LAST UPDATED: June 11, 2019
Best Power Steering Fluids: Great Choices for Operation and Protection
A good power steering fluid can keep your car driving smoothly
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON June 11, 2019
One of the best technologies added to vehicles over the years is power steering. In order to keep enhancing your driving experience, the system needs regular care and upkeep. Power steering fluid is a formulated hydraulic fluid that keeps your steering working and can even protect your car. Here are our top picks for power steering fluid.
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Benefits of Power Steering Fluid
- Ease of use. Power steering is a hydraulic power system made to help you turn your car with little effort. If you have a vehicle without power steering or your system brakes, it's a much more difficult process to drive around.
- Corrosion protection. Some power steering fluids have the added benefit of protecting the metal components in your steering system. This is great to help reduce the future costs of degraded materials.
- Stop leak capabilities. A power steering fluid that uses stop leak protection is also an excellent investment. These formulas use plasticizers to revitalize the rubber seals throughout your steering system.
Types of Power Steering Fluid
OEM Power Steering Fluids
The term OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) is often used when talking about vehicle parts, but it is used with fluids as well. OEM-certified fluids are made by the same manufacturer as your car. This has several benefits compared to other power steering fluids. First off, you know the products will be compatible because they're made specifically for your make and model. Plus, if you're just topping off your power steering fluid, you know you're using the same fluids that are already in the vehicle's system.
Third-Party Power Steering Fluids
The other type of power steering fluid you can get is a third-party fluid. While some third-party power steering fluids may claim to work for all vehicles, most have specific brands they are compatible with. With these products, you run the risk of not protecting your vehicle with individualized coverage. In return, these fluids tend to be less expensive.
The automotive giant has been producing motorcycles since 1948. Since then, it has grown and branched out into several segments, including automotive, motorsports, power equipment, and marine products. While selling all these popular products, it offers an assortment of additives to be used with its products, including the very popular Honda Power Steering Fluid.
For over 30 years, Lucas Oil Products, Inc. has been producing high-quality lubricants and additives. It got its start in a historic citrus processing plant in Corona, Calif. Over the years, it has grown and established itself as a top-selling additive line, which includes its successful Lucas Oil Power Steering Fluid.
Mitsubishi OEM Power Steering Fluid is a popular option among motorists. The company was officially established in 1970. Its origins, however, started 100 years earlier in Tokyo. Over the decades, the company grew and separated into different parts. Mitsubishi Motors developed from a ship manufacturing group of the original company, which made its first car in 1917.
Power Steering Fluid Pricing
- Less than $15: Containers of 8- and 12-ounce power steering fluid are typically sold for under $15. The 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.
While you need power steering fluid to keep the hydraulic power system working, some fluids add to their formula by including stop leak protection. This additive is made to rejuvenate the steering system's rubber seals while keeping the system working. These all-in-one solutions are great for performance and protection.
- 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 their respective systems. Using automatic transmission fluid instead of power steering fluid can damage certain components.
Best Power Steering Fluid Reviews & Recommendations 2020
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.
This rejuvenating formula can extend the life of your O-rings, seals, cylinders, pumps, and valves. It helps the overall health of your system by reducing the stiffness of rubber parts and reducing the friction in your power steering. This creates a noticeably improved driving experience. Lucas’ power steering fluid also stops fading and foaming, which can occur during high-performance situations.
Despite being the best synthetic power steering fluid, Lucas Oil’s fluid has some shortcomings. Because of the added protective qualities, this power steering oil does not last as long as some other universal fluids. As with most third-party steering fluids, Lucas Oil's product cannot be used with every vehicle manufacturer.
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.
Prestone’s power steering fluid is made with stop leak capability. The high-quality steering oil uses fortified additives to revitalize dried seals to keep your power steering system performing at optimal levels. The formula has corrosion inhibitors that protect the metal components while also using anti-wear agents to preserve pieces of the power steering pump. Prestone is also great at clearing blockages and debris that can build up over time.
While a great value, this power steering fluid is not perfect for every situation. It does not work with every vehicle; specifically, it's incompatible with most Asian manufacturers. Because of the added protective features, Prestone takes a while to start working compared to other fluids.
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.
This unique formula uses Synerlec, which is a proprietary additive that strengthens the oil film to help prolong the life of the steering system. The fluid protects the power steering system and transmits pressure to the appropriate components. It is also specially made to be mixed with factory fluids without causing any damage.
Despite all the positive attributes of this power steering wheel fluid, it is not the best option for every buyer. Specifically, Royal Purple does not work as well with synthetic oil pumps. Some users also have had issues where the containers leak, which can make it difficult to store the product.
If you have a Mercedes, you really can't go wrong if you replace or top off the power steering fluid with a genuine product from the manufacturer. This Mercedes power steering fluid is a standard, non-synthetic 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. There may be some other brands that work just as well, but this is a good solution, particularly if you simply want to top off the fluid instead of completely replacing it. It's perfect if you just need an ounce or two of OEM fluid to bring levels into the proper range.
There really aren't many downsides to this product. The biggest drawback is that it's designed for Mercedes vehicles and is not universal, so if you drive another type of vehicle, you should look elsewhere.
If you drive a Volkswagen, Audi, BMW, or another type of European vehicle, consider using this premium full-synthetic formula from Prestone. It works in extreme high and low temperature conditions and provides optimal performance by protecting against issues such as wear, corrosion, and foaming. It also features oxidative stability for a longer fluid lifespan.
Many consumers use this product to top off the steering fluid in their BMWs, Volvos, Mercedes, and Mini Coopers. It does its job at a reasonable price and comes with enough fluid to do the job. It's easy to use, and overall it works as advertised. It's a great alternative to buying a product in a larger quantity that you may not need.
However, there have been some complaints that it's a little pricey in relation to its quantity. Also, it's intended for European vehicles that require a synthetic formula, so it's not recommended for all vehicles.
If you drive a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, or Ram, this genuine Mopar fluid is the best option for your vehicle. It comes in an easy-to-pour, pint-sized bottle and is designed for all power steering systems that are model year 1998 and newer that need MS-9602 fluid. The product is compatible with ATF+4.
This power steering fluid is ideal if you want to have OEM fluid on hand. It does its job as advertised, and it’s usually a good idea to go with what the manufacturer recommends.
One drawback is that it's designed for Fiat Chrysler automobiles and is not a universal power steering fluid. Also, some consumers get confused because Mopar also has an ATF+4 automatic transmission fluid. This product is compatible with that but is not the same type of fluid.
Lubegard's power steering fluid can be used on power and power-assisted steering systems. It is designed to operate efficiently in both hot and cold conditions. It provides rust and corrosion protection, is safe for seals and hoses, and prolongs the life of your vehicle's steering system.
This product gets rid of noises in your power steering and brings it back to normal operating condition. It removes the stiffness associated with the steering's rack and pinion and cleans turbines and pumps. When it's cold outside, your vehicle will steer a lot smoother. There's no foaming, and it cuts down on friction, heat, and wear.
However, this product is not compatible with all vehicles, so make sure to check before making a purchase. While it was previously called "Universal Power Steering Fluid," it is now dubbed "Complete Power Steering Fluid." If you use it in the wrong vehicle, it could leak all over your steering system.
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. It's a great option for high-performance racing and auto crossing.
This fluid makes your power steering work very smoothly. It eliminates whining and annoying squeals, and your steering will improve greatly, turn easily, and have little to no groaning sounds. It boosts the flexibility of steering in low temperatures and has excellent thermal and oxidation resistance. Overall, the fluid works well, is compatible with most vehicles systems, and is reliable.
The biggest complaint about this fluid is that it tends to be a little more expensive compared to some of its competitors. It also has what some have described as an asphalt-like smell, which may be off-putting.
- 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, its 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: 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 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 factory power steering fluid?
A: No, you can choose to use 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 check the power steering fluid level visually. Others come with a dipstick to check the levels.
For a great universal power steering fluid, go for the Lucas Oil 10442 Power Steering Fluid for its protective features 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.