What is power steering fluid?
Power steering fluid is a hydraulic liquid that is used as medium through which power is transmitted in the steering system of a vehicle. Its main aim is to convey power when put under pressure. The vehicle is thus made easier to control.
The fluid does more than transferring power to the system though. It also provides protection to the machinery by acting as lubricant and sealant thereby preventing corrosion and leaks.
What are power steering fluids made of?
Some are water-based while others are mineral-based; most power steering fluids are made from mineral oil because of the greater advantages provided by the latter. For instance, mineral oil confers on the fluid the ability to cater for better lubrication and to tolerate higher temperatures characterised by the hot engines in operating vehicles.
Rapeseed, canola and silicone oils are also used as raw materials to produce hydraulic fluids.
The positive effects of power steering fluids
The usefulness of the hydraulic fluids are, perhaps, mostly felt when the steering system runs out of it. If the system is low on the fluid, the wheel will be harder to steer. The friction that would result because of the lack of lubricant will cause unpleasant noises to be emitted. These can possibly be signs of leaks as well; leaks can be spotted by traces of the fluid under the vehicle. These problems can be countered by adding new fluid to make steering more of a smooth process without creating the groaning noise.
Defects in the system
The level of the power steering fluid should be regularly verified; it is recommended to do so at every oil change. Furthermore, it is advised to suck out all the fluid after the vehicle has covered a distance of 96 560 km to add new fluid in the reservoir. Moreover, old fluid should not be used again, and must rather be properly disposed of.
In case the groaning sounds do not stop even after adding new fluid, this might be the indication of a greater problem with the system that needs to be fixed. Some components might be in need of being replaced: for instance, the power steering pump or valve might have to be changed. Additionally, hoses can crack, thereby causing leaks. That is why persistent noise should be attended to.