The more efficiently you can turn the wheels of your vehicle, the better control you can have while driving. With little effort, you may easily spin the wheels of your automobile thanks to the hydraulic power steering system.
But the power steering system becomes useless without the fluid.
Therefore, you must be careful about the type and weight of fluid you use in the power steering system. We will guide you here.
How Does Power Steering Fluid Work?
The power steering fluid plays a key role in the power steering system, allowing hydraulic power to transmit from the fuel pump to the steering gears.
As you know, the core responsibility of the power steering system is to help drivers turn the wheels efficiently.
Your car’s power steering system has a pump that generates hydraulic pressure to make turning the wheel easier for you.
Without the power steering system and, indeed, the components involved in this system, it wouldn’t be easier to get complete control of your car.
Beyond that, the power steering fluid, made of base oil and additives, ensures the proper care of the parts in the power steering system.
If there is no hydraulic pressure, you will find it hard to move the steering wheels, ultimately, your car’s wheels.
The scenario would be even more extreme when you drive your car slowly and have to turn the wheels by a large margin. Credit goes to power steering fluid stored in a power steering fluid reservoir.
Depending on the type of vehicle (make and model), the power steering fluid used might vary. You’ll find a bunch of power steering fluids available in the market.
For example, ATF+4, Mercon, and Dexon, etc, are compatible with vehicles with automatic transmissions.
Here you’ll find this video helpful regarding how the power steering system fluid works.
What Is Power Steering Fluid Weight?
The power steering fluid with inappropriate weight won’t contribute much to the power steering system in your car.
But what does power steering fluid weight mean? At the same time, what is the correct power steering fluid weight?
Well, the power steering fluid weight refers to the fluid’s viscosity. In most cases, you can’t measure the weight of the power steering fluid in a traditional method.
Besides, the weight of the power steering fluid also depends on how thick or thin the fluid is. The SAE power steering fluid is 0w30 synthetic oil, the most common weight for hydraulic power steering fluid.
Using numerical values, we can refer to the power steering fluid weight as the viscosity rating.
And it won’t matter whether we are discussing the transmission fluid or the power steering fluid; the weight of the fluid impacts both transmission and power steering systems in vehicles.
Usually, the power steering fluid weighs in different viscosity grades. For example, it can be 10,15,20,25. And in most cases, the letter ‘W’ is also written to describe the viscosity grade, which means winter or low temperature.
Let’s say 10W50, which refers to the viscosity grades of fluid, is 10 in the cold and 50 in warm weather. The lower the viscosity grade, the thinner the power steering fluid is at the low temperature.
You need to ensure that the power steering fluid is never too thicker and thinner. And that’s why knowing the correct weight of the power steering fluid makes a lot of sense.
The power steering fluid needs to flow to the power steering system, and it can only do that if it comes with the right weight.
Why Should You Choose the Right Weight for Power Steering Fluid?
The power steering fluid greatly contributes to your vehicle’s power steering system. But this doesn’t mean you should put the random weight power steering fluid.
And as you know, both too thick and too thin power steering fluid can positively impact the power steering system of your vehicle.
So when choosing the power steering fluid for the power steering system, you need to make sure the power steering fluid comes with the correct viscosity grade.
Now let’s know more precisely why you should choose the right weight of the power steering fluid.
Ensuring Proper Lubrication
There are too many components in the power steering system. And these components: the power steering pump, and power steering gears, have to work together to ensure you move your car’s wheels easily.
The components, at the same time, need proper lubrication. And in such a case, nothing can be handier than the power steering fluid.
To ensure the proper lubrication, the power steering fluid has to come with the right viscosity grade, meaning the right weight.
If the power steering fluid you use comes with a lower viscosity level, in such a case, the fluid tends to be thinner and is suitable for warmer conditions. On the other hand, the thick oil is ideal for winter to ensure proper lubrication.
Generating Improved Hydrologic Pressure
The power steering system in your vehicle becomes meaningful with appropriate hydrologic power.
The power steering fluid flows from the power steering pump to the steering gear; thus, hydrologic power is generated to turn the vehicle’s wheels.
Besides, the power steering fluid should come in for corrector weight so that there is enough hydrologic pressure to turn the steering wheels easily to turn the vehicle’s wheels.
With the right viscosity grade of the power steering fluid, the steering gears connected to the wheels find proper power, which is important in the power steering system.
Allowing Compatibility With the Power Steering System
As mentioned above, the type of power steering system installed in your vehicle is based on your vehicle, even though most vehicles come with a hydraulic power steering system. And that’s the reason why discussing power steering fluid.
And, according to the vehicle, the viscosity or the weight of the power steering fluid can vary.
For this, it is important to choose the correct weight of the power steering fluid. The more compatible the weight of the power steering fluid with the power steering system of your car, the better it is for your vehicle.
Reducing Extreme Heat
It will not be surprising to experience heating issues with the power steering system in your vehicle. The power steering system usually generates a bit of heat.
And that’s another purpose of using the power steering fluid, which comes with the right weight.
If you choose a power steering fluid that is not so thick, meaning the viscosity grade is comparatively low, it can’t lubricate the parts of the power steering system properly.
But on the other hand, if the weight of the power steering fluid is right enough, it can reduce the heat generated in the hydrologic power steering system.
And thus, ultimately, improve the performance of steering gears. To be more precise, it enhances the steering performance. Impressive, right?
What Should You Consider When Choosing the Right Power Steering Fluid Weight?
Yes, this is important. As you know the value of choosing the proper weight power steering fluid, it makes too much sense to see what you should consider.
Go to the market and buy a gallon of random power steering fluid. No! So what?
Follow the Manufacturer’s Recommendation
Well, this is the first and most crucial step when choosing the power steering fluid of the right weight, compatible with the power steering system of your car.
Who knows better what power steering fluid suits your car than the manufacturer?
Sometimes, information about the power steering fluid is written on the Owner’s manual of your car.
Besides, if you need help, we recommend contacting your vehicle’s manufacturer about what power steering fluid weight you should use.
The type of power steering fluid you need for your car is often written on the power steering fluid reservoir cap. So, never mind checking it also.
If you don’t do so, put any fluid on the power steering system; the fluid won’t provide any value for the power steering system. This is because not all the power steering fluid is made for your vehicle.
For example, if you own a Ford, using the MERCON® V fluid system built between 1998 and 2012.
Make Sure the Fluid Suits With the Power Steering System
Depending on the power steering fluid installed on your vehicle, the weight of the power steering fluid varies. Some power steering systems only need a specific weight of power steering fluid.
Indeed, it is important to determine the characteristics of the power steering fluid on your vehicle and then choose the right weight fluid.
The fluid manufacturers usually mention what type of flue your vehicle needs. So follow their recommendations as well. Be a smart cookie!
Choose Synthetic and Mineral-Based Power Steering Fluid
No matter what type of vehicle you own; you should choose synthetic or mineral-based power steering fluid.
This fluid type comes with proper weight, meaning enough viscosity to lubricate the parts of the power steering system like gears, bearing, seals, etc.
The mineral-based power steering fluid comes with high-quality addictive packages, which are bare enough to reduce heat and enhance the performance of the power steering fluid. On the other hand, synthetic fluid is also efficient, offering high fluid stability.
Choose More Fuel Efficient One
The power steering fluid’s weight also impacts your vehicle’s fuel economy. Surprised? The fact is, the lower the viscosity, meaning the weight of the fluid, the more fuel-efficient the fluid is.
This happens because low-viscosity oil in certain temperatures tends to be thinner.
And when the fluid is comparatively thinner in a low temperature, it works fine to lubricate power steering components as it can flow more easily.
High and Low Temperature
Depending on the temperature, the power steering fluid’s weight or viscosity can vary. Using more thinner oil with low viscosity in the winter is recommended.
On the other hand, in summer or warmer conditions, it will be better to use the high viscosity of the power steering fluid.
For example, you can use the power steering fluid viscosity of 5W-30 or 0-W30 in the winter season.
So, no matter what brand of power steering fluid you tend to buy, make sure the fluid comes with the same viscosity or something like that.
In a nutshell, if you have to drive your car in a cold area, you need to go with the low-viscosity fluid. The opposite you should in a place with an extremely hot temperature.
What Happens if You Use the Wrong Weight of the Power Steering Fluid?
If you choose the wrong weight of the power steering fluid, it won’t meet its purpose in the power steering system on your vehicle. And in this way, the performance of the power steering system will be dramatically reduced.
This means you can’t control the steering wheel with a lot of ease as you are supposed to do so with the right weight of the power steering fluid.
Additionally, due to the wrong weight power steering fluid, there might be overheating because of insufficient lubrication and increased friction.
Therefore, you shouldn’t allow the power steering system to burn by not selecting the correct viscosity grade of it. And who knows, it can also damage the entire power steering system.
While driving, if the power steering system can’t function properly, you can realize what can happen due to a lack of control over your vehicle.
How Do You Change the Power Steering Fluid?
You can perform the task with minimal effort if you know the right technique for changing the power steering fluid.
And also, you must have the tools required to make things happen quite easily. You might never want the power steering fluid to be contaminated.
Step 1: Open the Hood of Your Car and Locate the Power Steering Fluid Reservoir
Depending on the vehicle you have, the location of the power steering fluid reservoir can vary. But in most cases, you’ll find the fluid reservoir on or very near to the engine of your vehicle (engine compartment).
And the reservoir is supposed to be covered by a cap. You can also check your car’s owner’s manual to determine the fluid reservoir’s location.
Step 2: Place a Rag Around the Fluid Reservoir and Open the Cap of It
Let’s say you have located the power steering fluid reservoir. Now, place a rag around the fluid reservoir, so it is not spread away when you drain and refill it with fluid.
You can use a shop tower instead. Next, carefully remove the cap of the reservoir using your hand.
Step 3: Insert the Hose of the Vacuum Pump Into the Fluid Reservoir
Here, you need to have a vacuum pump by which you can suck out the existing fluid from the power steering fluid reservoir. Insert the vacuum pump hose into the fluid reservoir and pump the pump using your other hand to drain the fluid.
Step 4: Remove the Return Line of the Fluid Reservoir
Here, the return line denotes the upper hose of the power steering fluid reservoir through which the fluid flows back to the reservoir. Now remove the return line clamp and the hose using your hands.
Next, you should plug off the port using a short hose. To be more precise, you can use a scrap piece of tubing.
Lastly, you need to seal the other end of the tube. In such a case, you can use a pen cap or other rubbery stuff so the fluid can’t flow away.
Step 5: Refill the Power Steering Fluid Reservoir
Now, gently pour clean power steering fluid into the reservoir. At the same time, be careful you don’t overfill the fluid reservoir.
Step 6: Re-install the Return Hose
Before that, you need to pump the vacuum pump a few times, connecting its hose to the return line. By doing so, you can be more sure that there is no old fluid in the return line.
Then, simply connect the return line to the return port connected to the fluid reservoir.
Besides, make sure you put the clamp back on it. After refilling the fluid reservoir, put the cap onto it.
After performing the process above, make sure you keep your car idle just for a few minutes.
And then, you can start your car and rotate the steering wheel to see whether everything is fine.
You can also check this video to learn how to refill the power steering fluid.
Read Also: Power Steering Fluid Foaming Systems
Frequently Asked Questions
There are many queries on the internet regarding the weight of the power steering fluid. We’ve picked a few and plan to answer them here.
How Long Does Power Steering Fluid Last?
According to automobile experts and car manufacturers, the power steering fluid can last approximately 2-3 years (40,000-80,000 miles). However, external conditions can impact the lifespan of the fluid.
Can You Change the Power Steering Fluid on Your Own?
If you have the required tools and expertise, you can undoubtedly change the power steering fluid on your car. However, it is always better to go with a professional mechanic in such a case.
Can I Use Any ATF for Power Steering?
Yes, no worries. You can use any high-quality ATF for the power steering system in your vehicle. But only some of the ATF is recommended in the power steering system as they can lead to potential power steering failure.
How Much Does It Cost to Refill the Power Steering Fluid?
Depending on the type of power steering fluid, it can cost you anything between $20-$130, including fluid and labor. The price range can also vary based on the power steering fluid manufacturer.
When Should You Change the Power Steering Fluid?
You should replace the fluid according to its conditions in addition to changing it every two to four years. For example, if the power steering fluid becomes contaminated, you should replace it immediately.
Choosing the wrong weight power steering fluid can cause a major inability to turn the wheels. Ensure refilling the power steering system with the right fluid is always on your priority list. In this way, you can drive your vehicle without any major hustle.