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 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.

  • Best Overall
    Lucas Oil 10442 Power Steering Fluid
    Summary
    Summary
    A comprehensive, universal power steering fluid that keeps your system running smoothly while protecting against wear and tear.
    Pros
    Pros
    This steering oil is universal, it extends the life of your steering system, and it stops fading and foaming to increase overall performance.
    Cons
    Cons
    Does not last as long as some other fluids and doesn't work with every manufacturer.
  • Best Value
    Prestone AS261 Power Steering Fluid
    Summary
    Summary
    Prestone combines hydraulic fluid with stop leak additive to create a high-performing steering wheel liquid solution.
    Pros
    Pros
    Prestone's Power steering stop leak solution is made to mix with factory fluids, revitalizes dried O-rings, and uses anti-wear agents to preserve the steering system.
    Cons
    Cons
    This fluid does not work well with cars made in Asia, and it takes longer to see results compared to other oils.
  • Honorable Mention
    Royal Purple ROY01326 MAX EZ Power Steering Fluid
    Summary
    Summary
    This uniquely formulated power steering fluid is great for use across a wide range of vehicles and engine types.
    Pros
    Pros
    Royal Purple maximizes performance, extends the lifespan of your vehicle, uses Proprietary Synerlec technology, and can be mixed with conventional power steering fluids.
    Cons
    Cons
    This power steering fluid does not work with all manufacturers and isn’t optimal for synthetic pumps.

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. 

Top Brands

Honda

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.

Lucas Oil

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

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. 

Key Features

Stop Leak

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.

Other Considerations

  • 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 2019

Best Power Steering Fluid Overall: Lucas Oil 10442 Power Steering Fluid 

Lucas Oil 10442 Power Steering Fluid
Amazon

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. 

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Best Power Steering Fluid Value: Prestone AS261 Power Steering Fluid

Amazon

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. 

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Best Power Steering Fluid Honorable Mention: Royal Purple ROY01326 MAX EZ Power Steering Fluid

Royal Purple ROY01326 MAX EZ Power Steering Fluid
Amazon

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.

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Tips

  • 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.

FAQs

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.

Final Thoughts

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. 

Let us know what your go-to power steering fluid is in the comments below!