Best Power Steering Fluids: Great Choices for Operation and Protection
A good power steering fluid can keep your car driving smoothly
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One of the best technologies added to vehicles over the years is hydraulic power steering. In order to maintain an easy and painless driving experience, this system needs regular care and upkeep. Otherwise, it could either be awkward or hard to turn the wheel. Power steering fluid is a formulated hydraulic fluid that keeps your steering working and can even protect your car.
Hydraulic power steering has largely given way to electric power steering, so it's rarely used in new cars. But there are still plenty of cars on the road that utilize it. Here are our top picks for the best power steering fluid you can buy.
Lucas Oil 10442 Power Steering Fluid
Prestone AS261 Power Steering Fluid
Royal Purple ROY01326 MAX EZ Power Steering Fluid
Best Power Steering Fluids: Reviews & Recommendations
For drivers looking for a universal power steering fluid, Lucas Oil makes one of the best steering wheel liquids you can buy. Lucas Oil’s power steering fluid can be used with a wide range of vehicle manufacturers. This comprehensive formula not only keeps your hydraulic system running but also actually protects against wear and tear.Specs:
- Manufacturer: Lucas Oil
- Part Number: 10442
- Quantity: 16 ounces
Great protection against foaming/oxidization
Contains seal-replenishing ingredients
Not compatible with all manufacturers
Shorter service life than other fluids
When it comes to price per ounce, no power steering fluid beats Prestone. One 32-ounce container is available for a lower price than most 8-ounce containers. This is also a third-party fluid, which means it can be used with several vehicle manufacturers, and it is made to mix with factory fluids. Aside from maintaining proper steering operation, this fluid also has added protective qualities.Specs:
- Manufacturer: Fram Prestone
- Part Number: AS261
- Quantity: 12-32 ounces
Contains conditioners to revitalize seals
Great corrosion inhibitors
Users report that it took longer for system noises to cease
Incompatible with most Asian automakers, double-check compatibility before purchasing
Royal Purple MAX Power Steering Fluid is specially designed to maximize the performance of your vehicle's steering. While not every customer will be able to use this product, it offers a uniquely powerful protective additive that makes it a great choice for vehicles for which it is applicable.Specs:
- Manufacturer: Royal Purple
- Part Number: ROY01326
- Quantity: 12 ounces
Proprietary additives improve fluid robustness
Inexpensive compared to other high-performance fluids
Great quantity for topping off
Users report arriving in leaky containers
Does not work with all power steering systems
If you have a European car, you really can't go wrong if you replace or top off the power steering fluid with a genuine product from a quality European manufacturer. This Liqui Moly power steering fluid is a quality formula that comes in a 1-quart bottle, or approximately 0.95 liters. If you notice noise in your power steering, this product can help get rid of it. Some consumers have reported that it immediately stopped the whining in their vehicles, and that it's easy to fill any reservoir.Specs:
- Manufacturer: Liqui Moly
- Part Number: 20038
- Quantity: One liter
Exceeds many OEM standards
Inexpensive compared to OEM formulas
Easy pour bottle
One liter is good for a mild system flush on most vehicles
Much pricier than other non-OEM fluids
Red Line Power Steering Fluid is compatible with petroleum power steering fluids as well as automatic transmission fluids. It provides better operating viscosity and wear protection and functions much better at low temperatures than many of its rivals.Specs:
- Manufacturer: Red Line
- Part Number: 30404
- Quantity: One quart
Excellent oxidization resistance
Great for high-performance applications
Eliminates system noises and groaning
Asphalt-like smell may be off-putting
Our Verdict on the Best Power Steering Fluids
For a great universal power steering fluid, go for the Lucas Oil 10442 Power Steering Fluid for its protective features and car compatibility.
For a better price-per-ounce value, Prestone’s AS261 Power Steering Fluid offers a great solution at a fraction of the price.
Q: Does power steering fluid go bad?
A: The answer is yes, eventually. While everything has a shelf life, power steering fluid can last a very long time if kept sealed and clear of contaminants. You can see a change in color when the solution has spoiled or degraded.
Q: What should I consider when buying and using power steering fluid?
A: Compatibility: If you opt for a third-party fluid, it's essential to know which vehicles the fluid was created for. Every bottle will tell you what manufacturers the fluid can be used with. It's important not to ignore these directions because each car has its own unique power steering needs.
Longevity: One factor in deciding which power steering fluid is best for you is how long the steering oil will last. Some products are made to protect the steering system while keeping it properly lubricated. These oils may have shorter life spans compared to fluids that don't have protective agents.
Transmission Fluid: Be aware of any power steering fluids that claim to also work with transmissions and brakes. While transmission fluid and brake fluid have similar qualities to power steering fluid, each product is specially designed for its respective system. Using automatic transmission fluid instead of power steering fluid can damage certain components.
Q: What are some tips for buying and using power steering fluid?
A: A general rule of thumb for replacing your power steering fluid is to do it every 50,000 miles. If your vehicle has a recommended mileage in the owner's manual, it's best to follow those instructions.
You can also check the level of your power steering fluid every time you change the oil. If it's low, a simple top-off is good enough.
In order to pour in power steering fluid, you have to find the reservoir in the engine bay. The cap will signify that it is for power steering, but checking your owner’s manual will help if you’re unsure.
You should clean around the opening of the power steering reservoir before removing the cap in order to help prevent any contaminants from falling inside.
Some key signs that you need power steering fluid include noisy steering, jumps, jerking, or if it is just difficult to turn the wheel in general.
If your vehicle is leaking power steering fluid, you can try steering oil that includes stop leak to try and fix the issue.
Q: What should I expect to pay for power steering fluid?
A: Less than $15: Containers of 8- and 12-ounce power steering fluid are typically sold for under $15. OEM fluids are going to be at the higher end of the range, while third-party fluids will be closer to $5 (depending on size). These smaller containers are good for topping off your power steering fluid.
More than $15: The higher price range of power steering fluid will typically be for full-gallon containers and packs of 12-ounce containers. While steering wheel fluid cost will depend on brand and quantity, you'll save money on overall dollars-per-ounce when buying in bulk. Also, if you're flushing the entire system, you'll need a higher quantity of fluid to refill it.
Q: What does flushing the power steering mean?
A: The term “flush” means removing all the fluid that is currently in the system and then replacing it with new power steering fluid.
Q: Can I just top off my power steering fluid?
A: Generally speaking, yes. Keep in mind, though, that you shouldn’t be losing power steering fluid too quickly. If you need to top off your system often, there may be a leak. Also, overfilling the system can cause leaks.
Q: Do I have to use a factory power steering fluid?
A: No, you can choose to use a third-party power steering fluid. Just make sure whatever brand you pick is compatible with your vehicle.
Q: How do I check my power steering fluid?
A: Some power steering fluid reservoirs are clear, so you can visually check the power steering fluid level. Others come with a dipstick to check the levels.
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Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.Learn more