Does Power Steering Fluid Go Bad Quickly?

Does Power Steering Fluid Go Bad Quickly?

Note: As an amazon associate I may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases if you click to amazon from my site and choose to make a purchase.You can read my complete affiliate disclosure for more details

Does Power Steering Fluid Go Bad Quickly?

Power steering boasts a fluid used in vehicles to help drivers steer the car. It’s contained in the power steering reservoir, which sits on top of the engine.

The job of the power steering fluid is to reduce the effort a driver needs to push and pull on their steering wheel.

No! It can last up to 2 years. Power steering fluid doesn’t “go bad,” but it can become contaminated with water, dirt, and other contaminants that can cause the fluid to leak out of the system.

Leaking power steering fluid will eventually lead to loss of power steering assist, which is a major problem for drivers.

So, if you have unusually low power steering fluid levels or notice any leaks in the system, get your car into a shop immediately.

The oil-based power steering fluid in vehicles these days is known as “synthetic” fluid. It contains special chemicals that help to prevent rust and corrosion.

These chemicals form a thin barrier between the fluid and the engine, keeping it from leaking out.

Drivers will benefit from using synthetic power steering fluid for one or two years, but you’ll probably want to change the fluid and switch to a new kind of oil.

Synthetic fluid is more expensive than conventional power steering fluid, and it can be not easy to find at some auto parts stores.

Just because a car has synthetic power steering fluid doesn’t mean the vehicle is immune to leaks.

You can still see some minor leaks even on newer cars, usually caused by a failure of the system’s seals and hoses. The fluid will seep right out onto the ground in most cases.

When inspecting your vehicle’s power steering system, pay particular attention to the power steering pump near the engine’s front.

You’ll usually spot leaks around this part. Using synthetic power steering fluid is generally good to check out at every oil change.

How Long Can You Keep The Power Steering Fluid?

It depends on whether or not the container has been opened and whether or not it’s been exposed to heat.

Unopened power steering fluid will last up to five years before it begins to degrade, but utterly unused power steering fluid sitting in an opened container for six months will degrade.

If you use a power steering fluid, it will degrade immediately. The fluid must be flushed from the power steering system every 30,000 miles. 

Since power steering fluid is a type of oil, it sticks to everything and picks up dirt just like any other kind of oil. This is true if you’ve left it sitting in an opened container for too long.

The longer it sits outside and is exposed to heat, light and air (oxygen), the more it degrades. Remember, the power steering fluid is no different from any other kind of oil.

Unlike a transmission or hydraulic fluid, power steering fluid does not attract moisture because it’s formulated to stay in a liquid state for as long as possible.

If you keep the reservoir full and use new fluid every 30,000 miles (or sooner, depending on how you drive), there’s no need to worry about moisture.

If your power steering system leaks and the reservoir goes empty, you’ll have to refill it with fresh fluid before you can start the car again.

Does Power Steering Fluid Go Bad Quickly?

Your power steering system will stop working correctly. Confirm if the fluid level is correct. If it’s low and the fluid is dark, this could indicate metal shavings dissolving into the fluid.

If you check the fluid level and it’s still low even after you’ve added new fluid, make an appointment at your local auto parts store to have them check out your power steering system.

Can Power Steering Fluid Get Old?

Yes! Power steering fluid does get old. This is often a problem for those people who change their cars every two years or less.

The fluid won’t last that long, but it can still be a problem if you aren’t careful.

Below are tips to help you avoid power steering fluid getting old and leaving you with a car that no longer has power steering:

  1. Only change the fluid when your power steering warning light comes on
  2. Be aware of auto part replacement times. Manufacturers rate their cars on how often they should last before changing parts such as the power steering pump.

Check your owner’s manual for proper operating temperature. Different manufacturers have different suggestions.

  1. If you have a lot of miles on the car, consider using synthetic fluid. This will stay in good shape for a longer time and provide more lubrication for your power steering system
  2. Make sure that you use the type of fluid recommended by the manufacturer.

There are many synthetic fluids on the market, but auto manufacturers approve only a few for use in their vehicles.

Avoid using power steering fluid from foreign countries. Auto manufacturers may not approve them

  1. Always use a power steering hose because synthetic hoses can absorb moisture and cause rust. If you have to use synthetic fluid, ensure that you don’t get any on your leather seats.

Synthetic fluids do not allow enough oil to remain on the leather, and they can quickly dry out.

You will notice that the leather will get sticky and hard in areas with frequent exposure to synthetic power steering fluid.

  1. Be sure to check the power steering system of your car regularly. You will be able to determine how well your power steering fluid is doing by looking at the fluid in your reservoir.
  2. If it has a milky appearance, you are using too much, and the fluid is getting old.

If it has a dark or almost black appearance, the chances are that you aren’t using enough. Always watch your oil and power steering fluid levels.

Does The Power Steering Fluid Need To Change?

Yes! The power steering fluid needs changing, which should happen every 2-3 years or 24,000 miles.

The fluid lubricates the hydraulic pumps in your power steering unit and helps make it easier to turn the wheel.

You might notice a change when driving because your car starts to pull or feels heavy on one side.

If you don’t have power steering, your car won’t pull on one side or feel heavy.

If a vehicle is equipped with anti-lock brakes, the fluid that keeps the brakes from locking up should be checked and changed every 2–3 years or 24,000 miles.

One of the primary causes of power steering failure is a worn-out or contaminated fluid.

How To Change Power Steering Fluid:

You can buy your power steering fluid at your local auto parts store for about $5 for a 1-quart bottle.

Ask your owner’s manual how much to add, and then pour it into the reservoir until the fluid reaches the MAX mark on the side of the reservoir.

Do not overfill your power steering fluid because the pump may burn out. It’s best to add power steering fluid after the car is running and not while it’s sitting.

If you overfill it, the extra pressure may cause an oil leak at the gasket.

The power steering pump can damage itself if you turn the wheels too far in either direction when there is no power steering fluid in your system.

This is especially dangerous on cars with anti-lock brakes.

If your power steering fluid leaks and then leaks into the braking system, your anti-lock brakes may not be able to detect when you’re going too far in either direction.

Anti-lock brakes can only work properly with enough fluid to keep them functioning correctly and efficiently.

Does Power Steering Fluid Go Bad Quickly?

After changing the power steering fluid, remember to write down the date, so you don’t forget to change it again.

Can Power Steering Fluid Get Low Without A Leak?

Yes! Power steering fluid will get low without a leak. Power steering systems use two different fluids; the power steering fluid is pumped into the reservoir, and the power steering oil circulates between the pump and motor.

Continued use of your car will eventually make these fluids wear down, without a visible leak, until they need to be replaced.

If you boast a low power steering fluid, it doesn’t mean you have a leak:

  • There will be zero resistance at all for your steering wheel when turning.
  • Your steering wheel will feel light.
  • When you turn your wheel, there will be a squeaking noise from the pump or the motor.
  • Do not hesitate to contact your mechanic for a power steering system inspection and diagnosis if you have any of these problems.

Can I Add Power Steering Fluid?

No! Power steering fluid is not the solution to your car’s power steering woes. The truth is that power steering fluid and power steering liquid are two different things.

Power steering fluid, or PSF as it’s also sometimes known, is a petroleum-based product that lubricates and cools the system, while power steering liquid (PSL) is an oil-based hydraulic fluid.

Power steering fluid improves performance for the most part but does not address the root of the problem. The solution to your car’s power steering woes is overhauling the hydraulic system.

To overhaul your hydraulic system, you need to remove the power steering fluid reservoir (if fitted). Then, you can replace the entire hydraulic system with a new one.

But, before you begin this project, make sure it’s necessary. Some cars require replacing a few hoses and fittings rather than a complete rebuild.

If you are certain that your car requires a full overhaul, which is the best option – you’ll need:

  • A new power steering fluid reservoir.
  • A new power steering pressure (PS) line.
  • A new power steering pump.
  • A new power steering master cylinder.
  • A torque wrench for the job. Depending on your vehicle’s size and weight, I recommend a torque wrench with at least 15Nm (11 ft-lb) holding capabilities.
  • New power steering hoses and tubes.
  • A new power steering pump belt.
  • A power steering pump pulley tool.
  • A new power steering fluid reservoir cap and seal (if necessary).
  • Power steering fluid (PSF).

The main function of PSF is to lubricate the power steering system. It assists the power steering pump to maintain pressure and distribute heat away from the system.

It also prevents corrosion and keeps it clean.

It is important to note that when you replace the power steering pump, you must buy a new reservoir cap fitted with a new seal, which means you’ll be breaking into your new reservoir.

Will The Check Engine Light Come On If The Power Steering Fluid Is Low?

Yes! It’s always possible for a check engine light to come on due to a low power steering fluid level.

An alert can also be given if the power steering pump has failed, if the vehicle speed sensor is not working, or if a vacuum leak.

Many reasons could cause an issue with the power steering fluid, and you must be able to address car problems quickly and efficiently to minimize any further damage.

Another quick and important distinction is that the check engine light may come on when the fluid is too low, but it can also be triggered if there is a leak.

In case of a leak, it’s important that you locate it as soon as possible and then fix the issue.

Signs of a power steering fluid leak include a squealing or grinding sound when turning and vibrations in the steering wheel.

If there is a power steering fluid leak and you notice indicators like these, it’s recommended that you get your car to a mechanic as soon as possible.

If you leak, the vehicle’s high-pressure system could be compromised and rendered inoperable. The power steering pump could fail due to a leak or another issue.

This can lead to an accident if you’re not careful, so you must take care of the issue right away.

An issue with the power steering fluid can cause issues like a vehicle jerking or spinning out of control, so you must have the right repair parts and tools.

This makes sure that you can resolve all problems with your car as soon as possible.

Also, having the right repair parts and tools can help ensure that you don’t do further damage to the vehicle is trying to fix it on your own.

Why Would A Car Lose Power Steering Fluid?

Improper fluid levels in your car could be making it harder to turn your wheel or affecting its ability to steer.

Due to their design, older cars with power steering systems may need fluid changes more frequently than newer cars.

Car owners should check their oil and fluid levels in the power steering reservoir, sometimes called the rack.

If necessary, you can top off these fluids at an automotive shop or by using a container of old engine oil with a funnel inserted into the reservoir under a sink faucet.

If you use an old oil bottle, check the expiration date because old oil can damage a car’s power steering system. The oil should be 27-38 degrees Fahrenheit or above.

You should also ensure that any hoses or cables connected to the power steering rack or pump are securely fastened.

They could become loose with age, causing a loss of fluid and fluid pressure, affecting your steering ability.

In most cases, lower engine oil levels or a leaky seal in the power steering system can cause pressure loss or an improper operating condition.

The particles or liquid in the gasket can also migrate to your power steering pump and cause it to fail due to internal mechanical damage.

Pressure on the rack can be created by a worn seal that allows fluid from the reservoir to leak into the steering system at any time, resulting in a complete loss of fluid.

Other possible causes of engine oil loss include a worn oil pump, failing engine seals, and leaks or air leaks in the hoses or lines.

In most cases, changing the gasket and refilling the reservoir with new fluid is necessary.

If your car is experiencing power steering issues, you must contact an automotive professional such as a local mechanic, to inspect your system for possible leaks.

Can No Power Steering Fluid Cause The Car Not To Start?

Yes! It’s an issue on many car models; it occurs when the fluid gets too low. Other factors can contribute to this problem as well.

If you’re a first-time car buyer or don’t know much about your vehicle, check your owner’s manual for information on oil changes, fluids, and important maintenance procedures.

Oil changes and power steering fluid changes should be done every 10,000 miles.

It’s common knowledge that fluid leaks don’t work the same way they used to, but you might need to do something about this before you get an air leak that causes a lack of power steering.

This can be caused by a simple crack or puncture in the hose to regular wear and tear on the equipment messing up its operation.

A bit of time spent before your next venture can help you know exactly what problem(s) you’re dealing with. 

Whatever the cause, the solution will vary from model to model. Start by looking at the specific car’s write-up in the manual.

Next, check for leaks or other potential problems with your power steering. Look for signs like bubbling, stains, or thick air within the system you feel is not serving its purpose.

Why Is My Power Steering Fluid, Brown?

Your power steering fluid is brown because of old age, but there is a way to keep your power steering system from worsening.

The faster you change your power steering fluid, the less likely you will need a new power steering system.

While the brown colour of your power steering fluid might disgust you, it’s worth knowing that this is a sign that your system is ageing too quickly and needs immediate attention.

You can think about changing them every year or two to avoid major issues down the road.

There are ways to tell if your power steering fluid needs replacement. Your power steering fluid should smell “salty” or like a small amount of water but nothing overpowering.

If you smell burning oil and the fluid is brown, there is cause for concern. 

Another way to tell that your vehicle’s power steering system has an issue is to look at the condition of your hoses. Sagging, weak hoses can be a sign that you need new hoses.

Be sure to check the condition of your power steering fluid by feeling it with your finger. It should be warm. If it’s “too hot”, you need to get your vehicle in for service immediately.

Does Power Steering Fluid Colour Matter?

Yes! The colour of your power steering fluid is something you should know about. You see, not just the green stuff that comes out of your car when you turn the wheel a little too hard.

There exist two types of power steering fluid: One that is watery and one that is thicker and more orange or brown.

If you have an older model car, there’s a good chance it has the watery type, it’s cheaper to produce and doesn’t need any heaters to keep it from freezing during cold weather.

But today’s modern cars have thicker fluid because that type is easier to clean and doesn’t clog as easily.

It’s more expensive to produce, but it requires less maintenance. If your steering wheel has been spraying out a brownish, orangey-yellowish fluid for the past few weeks.

You can safely assume that your power steering pump is failing and will likely need replacement soon.

There is no way to tell this without taking your car to a mechanic, but you can ensure that fluid colour matters.

So, knowing all this, how exactly do you check fluid colour?

You can take your power steering hose and dip it into the fluid pouring out of your car’s power steering pump.

The easiest way to check the colour without ruining the hose is to pour it into a glass jar. After that, add a few drops of water mixed in.

If you have fresh fluid, turn on your car and apply pressure to the wheel for about 3- 5 seconds.

If the watery type comes out, you’ll be completely surprised by how fast it shoots out.

Thicker fluid is not as harsh when it sprays out, so you should never try to clean your windshield with power steering fluid. It could get in your eyes and blind you.

If a thick, 4dark-coloured fluid is sprayed out, you need a new power steering pump.

If you have clogged and dirty power steering fluid, it can severely damage your car’s power steering system.

When this happens, you’ll be able to feel the pressure in your hands when you turn the wheel, especially at low speeds.

This fluid is bad because it collects dirt and debris over time, leading to many problems, including leaks and even a complete power failure that could result in an accident.

Does Cold Weather Affect Power Steering Fluid?

Yes! Winter weather conditions can negatively impact the power steering fluid in the car.

This is because the freezing liquid expands and contracts with temperature changes, damaging seals of other fluids or moving components out of position.

The effects of cold weather on power steering fluid are more dramatic in the dry climates of the United States.

The fluid expands on warming but may also partially harden if the car is kept out of extreme temperatures.

When winter months bring freezing temperatures or heavy snowfall in these areas, drivers will find that the tiller or steering wheel gets harder to turn or that it becomes harder to turn at low speeds, even with effort.

The most useful thing drivers can do is check the power steering fluid before and after cold weather conditions.

If the steering wheel gets harder to turn or feels sticky and stiff, it is time to refill the power steering fluid before any damage occurs.

This fluid is not expensive, and checking regularly will reduce the risk of damage to other parts of the vehicle.


Power steering is a basic fluid used in several important places in your vehicle. It runs the steering wheel and makes it possible for you to turn it while driving. 

Recent Posts