You turn the steering wheel and your vehicle goes in the direction you want. It’s so simple, right? Not necessarily. Power steering is a complicated modern technology that requires the orchestration of multiple precise components in order to work smoothly. At the very least, a power steering system as a whole consists of a fluid reservoir, a steering fluid pump, and a rack and pinion assembly. Each of these critical components must operate in unison in order to function well, which demonstrates the importance of the regular flushing and replacement of the hydraulic fluid that runs through this system.

Having your power steering fluid flushed is a fairly quick and straightforward procedure. However, specialized tools are necessary to ensure that the process is performed correctly. Thompson Automotive has the expert staff and requisite tools to ensure that your power steering fluid flush is performed according to the specifications of your vehicle manufacturer, every time. If it’s time to flush your steering system, we’d be happy to help — simply give us a call to schedule a steering fluid flush at our Englewood auto shop. We specialize in service for import autos, including Acura, Honda, Lexus, Mitsubishi, Subaru, and Toyota models. You can also continue reading to learn more about the importance of steering fluid flushes!

How Your Steering System Works

Most modern vehicles are outfitted with power-assisted steering, a system that relies on hydraulics to assist the turning of the mechanical linkage that controls the orientation of your wheels. Power-assisted steering systems contain hydraulic pumps that create added force when the wheel is turned one direction or another. That extra force makes wheel turning far smoother and easier than it would be if you had to turn the mechanical linkage with the force of the steering wheel alone. That’s why, when you lose power to the power-assisting hydraulics of your system, you can still turn your wheels, but it will take far more effort. You may also have a leak of hydraulic fluid that will bring a halt to the power-assisting capabilities of your steering column. If you’ve lost power to your power-assisted steering system, it may be incredibly difficult to steer at low speeds or at a standstill.

Recommended Steering Fluid Flush Intervals

Most vehicle manufacturers recommend a power steering fluid flush every 60,000 miles or so. You can consult your owner’s manual for specific recommendations for your make and model. Your mechanic may also check your steering fluid to see if it is still up to snuff. Your steering fluid may be too low, or it may be contaminated with debris that can build up or time. Your mechanic will check the level of your fluid, and check the fluid itself to see if it is dark brown or black — both of which are an indication that you require new fluid.

If your power steering fluid becomes too contaminated or if the steering fluid level drops too low, you will start to notice some deficiencies in your steering. There may be squealing or grinding noises, or your steering may feel ‘dampened’ or sluggish. To determine the root cause of these issues, an evaluation by a knowledgeable technician is recommended. It won’t take long to uncover the culprit of the issue, whether it’s a low fluid level, dirty fluid, or something more serious. Keep an eye out for the following signs that your steering fluid could use a flush or at least a top-off:

  • Noises while turning: Your vehicle should turn without difficulty, and with little to no sound. If you hear noises coming from your vehicle when you turn, then your power steering system may be to blame. You may have a lack of power to the system, the hydraulic fluid may be low, the pump may be inoperable, or you may have contaminated fluid. Listen for screeching, which is a common signal that the power steering system requires attention.
  • Jerky steering: If the wheel jerks left and right as you drive, then your steering system may be to blame. Jerking is an indicator that your power-steering system is about to fail altogether. It’s likely that jerky movement will be more noticeable at slow speeds, such as driving in a parking lot, or turning at a stoplight. Take note, you could also have an issue with your vehicle alignment — bring your car into an auto shop for an assessment from a mechanic.
  • Difficulty turning the steering wheel: When your power steering system fails, it will feel more difficult to turn the wheel. Instead of relying on the powered hydraulics of your system to turn the steering pinion and move the steering rack (which in turn moves your wheels), you’ll have to crank your steering wheel to turn the pinion.
  • Leaks: Leaks can lead to any of the aforementioned problems. Look for red fluid leaking near the steering system of your car. A fix may have to be performed before filling the reservoir in your vehicle.

As we mentioned, it’s generally recommended to have your power steering fluid flushed at a set mileage interval, so that you can avoid a problem before it crops up. For most modern vehicles, this should be every 60,000 miles. The manufacturer sets the recommendation, and Thompson Automotive can do the research for you to determine what that interval is for the car, truck, van or SUV you drive.

If you notice a sharp change in the performance of your power steering, then it’s highly recommended to have your vehicle evaluated as soon as possible. This is because power steering problems can pose a significant safety risk, and it’s best to correct the problem before it grows into something far costlier down the line. If you’re not sure what the current condition of your power steering fluid is, don’t worry! A power steering system inspection only takes a few minutes, and repairs or servicing can be scheduled for a time that works best for you.

Call to Schedule an Appointment

Don’t let low or contaminated power steering fluid compromise the safety of the vehicle you rely on every day. Get the peace of mind you deserve by having your power steering system flushed and serviced by the ASE-Certified professionals at Thompson Automotive. We never recommend repairs that aren’t needed, and all of our work is backed by a 3-year/36,000-mile warranty covering all parts and labor. Reach out to us to schedule service for your steering system at our Englewood auto shop, today! Again, we specialize in providing service for Acura, Honda, Lexus, Mitsubishi, Subaru, and Toyota vehicles.