Power steering fluid
(Check your owner’s manual or ask your mechanic what type your vehicle needs-they there are many different varieties)
Difficulty Level: Easy
Check your owner’s manual to find whether your vehicle is recommended to be checked while warm or cold. Most manufacturers’ recommend checking the power steering fluid while the engine is warm. If your car has not been running, let it idle for around five minutes or drive it around the block to warm the fluids. If the weather is especially cold, please allow appropriate warm up time to ensure an accurate reading.
Open your hood and locate the tank for the power steering fluid. First locate your power steering pump. This is a belt driven pump towards the front of your engine bay. The tank may either be attached to the pump or close by, and it may be clear plastic or metal. The cap may be labeled “Power Steering Fluid”.
Open the tank by either unscrewing the cap or popping it off. Be sure not to lose this cap; place is somewhere safe nearby while you finish the service. If it has an attached dipstick, you will need it to determine your fluid level.
Check the fluid level. If your tank is plastic, there may be full and low indicator levels written on the outside; usually these types of tanks are clear plastic so that you can clearly see the level of liquid inside and determine what level is present. If your tank is opaque plastic or metal, there may be a dipstick attached to the cap or the tank. If you have a dipstick, wipe the dipstick off on the rag and reinsert it into the tank. Pull the dipstick out again; the fluid will cover the dipstick up to the fill level present in your tank.
If needed, add power steering fluid, using the funnel so as not to spill. Be sure only to fill to the “full” indicator line, DO NOT OVERFILL. If you have a dipstick, add a small amount and replace dipstick to re-measure level. Continue to add fluid and reinsert dipstick until “full” level is reached.
Replace the tank cap; make sure it is secure either by tightly screwing or firmly pushing back on.
Be aware of how low the level of this fluid is and how frequently you have to refill or notice symptoms of low fluid. As your vehicle does not “use up” power steering fluid as it does gasoline, low levels indicate a hose leak or leaks around seals.
If a leak is suspected, visit your auto mechanic or technician immediately.