Power steering is one of the most important components in any modern vehicle because it allows you to easily control the heavy wheels of your car. The steering system relies on many components, including the steering fluid, to work. You may be asking yourself, do you need to flush this fluid regularly?
You need a power steering flush if your vehicle feels harder to maneuver. Accompanying squeaking or growling sounds while steering also points to low or dirty steering fluid. The frequency of preventive power-steering flush is dependent on the vehicle’s age and the intensity of daily usage.
The rest of the article will cover all you need to know about getting a power steering flush.
What Is a Power Steering Flush?
Power steering flush is the clearing and replacement of contaminated, ineffective, or dirty power steering fluid. It’s a maintenance job carried out by qualified mechanics.
The power steering fluid is a hydraulic solution that keeps your steering system mobile. The powering system comprises the following:
- Power steering fluid
- Power steering pump (which is responsible for delivering hydraulic pressure)
- Power steering rack (which is responsible for delivering power to the steering mechanisms)
The steering fluid’s lubrication makes it easier for you to control your vehicle—no matter how heavy—with minimal effort. After a while, the fluid becomes contaminated or ineffective, requiring a flush.
When Do You Need a Power Steering Flush?
You need a power steering flush when you notice growling or squeaking sounds coming from your vehicle as you steer. If the steering feels tougher than usual, it’s also a sign that you need a power steering flush.
You may also need a power steering flush if you notice a leak on the floor around the underside of your car’s hood. The power steering systems are sealed and shouldn’t lose fluid over time. A leak lowers the system’s efficacy, so it must be topped off as quickly as possible. The technician will also look for the source of the leak to plug it immediately.
Why Car Owners Ignore Power Steering Flushes
Many vehicle owners don’t count a power steering flush as an important part of vehicle maintenance because the steering rarely gives cause for concern. However, anyone who has witnessed how sludge and grit can accumulate quickly in old power steering fluid will take this bit of vehicle maintenance a bit more seriously.
Car manufacturers don’t include power steering flushes in their user manuals, so it’s no surprise that many people ignore them. In fact, some mechanics insist that you don’t need to get a power flush because modern cars come with “lifetime” fluids. However, any mechanics that have been around long enough will know that the meaning of “lifetime” can change quickly.
You can avoid a power steering flush if you intend to change your car after 3-5 years of use. However, if you intend to use the car for a decade or more, you’re at risk of experiencing steering problems if you don’t get periodic power steering flushes.
Car manufacturers don’t include power steering flushes in their maintenance recommendations because they want to keep projected maintenance costs down. It’s a marketing gimmick that savvy car owners shouldn’t fall for.
The Risks of Not Getting Power Steering Flushes
Failing to get preventive power steering flushes increases the risks of grit entering the pinion and rack seals and destroying them. Also, as components wear out, the steering fluid will become contaminated with metal and rubber particles. Continued circulation of the contaminants will wear down your vehicle’s steering pump and gear.
The pump can fail prematurely if you don’t treat your power steering flushes like any other fluid change.
What Is the Cost of a Power Steering Flush?
The cost of a power steering flush is between $100 and $300. The exact cost comes down to your vehicle type and age. Extra service will also attract extra costs.
The cost for power steering flush on a Subaru will be somewhere in the middle of the price range, while the cost for BMWs will be closer to the top end.
The cost of preventive power steering flushes pales in comparison to the expenses you’ll incur if you need to replace your entire rack and pinion. Such replacements can cost you thousands of dollars. With preventive maintenance, you can prevent costly repairs and prolong the lifespan of your vehicle’s components.
How Often Should You Get a Power Steering Flush?
You should get a power steering flush every 50,000 to 100,000 miles (~80,470 to 161,000 km). The frequency should increase as your vehicle ages or as your commute intensity grows over time.
Your vehicle’s current performance will also influence the frequency of your power steering flush sessions. Overall, it’s best to talk to a professional to get a bespoke recommendation for your specific vehicle. Two owners with similar cars can have different recommendations due to their driving habits and varying maintenance histories.
Do All Cars Need a Power Steering Flush?
All cars don’t need a power steering flush. Newer model vehicles built from 2015 and beyond often come with an electronic power steering system. The system features an electric motor, so they don’t need power steering fluid to function. Such vehicles don’t need a power steering flush.
Similarly, some vehicles have a hybrid arrangement featuring an electric and hydraulic system. The power steering fluids in such vehicles are bound to last a lot longer than plain hydraulic options. Talk to a qualified mechanic to get the low down on whether your vehicle needs a power steering flush or not.
If you’re worried about whether or not you need a power steering flush, you should seek guidance from a qualified mechanic as quickly as possible. This is especially true if you own a vehicle manufactured earlier than 2015.
If your car qualifies for a power steering flush, be sure to get a professional flush. Qualified experts know it’s important to only use the factory-recommended fluid. While most vehicles take power steering fluid, a good number also use automatic transmission fluid or a wide range of other fluids you can’t mix.
Give us a call at SL Autoworks if you are in the North Little Rock area! (501) 214-1091