Checking Your Power Steering Fluid Level

power steering fluid reservoir
The power steering fluid reservoir should be clearly labeled to check the level. Serge Phatanapherom/Flickr

Power steering may seem like a luxury you could live without (as if) but if it fails you could be putting yourself in danger, and a power steering fluid leak can be the cause. A car designed to have power steering can be very hard to steer without it. If it goes suddenly, you could lose control of the vehicle and end up in a very bad place. Pay attention to symptoms of power steering problems to avoid serious problems.

Lucky for you, it takes less than five minutes to check, and even fill, your power steering fluid.

Checking your power steering fluid level:

It's best to check your power steering fluid when the engine is cold, but some cars have markings for checking it hot or cold.

The reservoir that holds your power steering fluid can be found under the hood, usually on the passenger's side of the vehicle, but sometimes on the driver's side. It's usually on the side that has the belts in a smaller (transverse mount engine) car. It will say "steering" on the top some kinda way in any case. Most cars these days have an opaque reservoir that allows you to check the level of the fluid without opening the container. Wipe it off for a clear view of the markings, then check the level.

If your vehicle doesn't have a clear reservoir, you'll need to remove the cap to check the level. Before you open it, take a rag and clean the cap and the area around it.

Dirt can really irritate the system. The cap will have a dipstick built into it. Wipe the stick off, screw the cap on, then remove it again and check the level.

If you're low, let's add some power steering fluid.

If you've checked the level of your power steering fluid and found it to be low, it's time to add a little. You should also take a look around the reservoir and pump to be sure you don't have a power steering fluid leak. Safety should be a priority, and steering your car is on the short list of safety items, for sure. It takes just a few minutes to check and fill your power steering fluid, so go ahead and do it today.

Before you remove the cap on the power steering fluid reservoir, take a rag and clean the cap and the area around it well. Even a small amount of debris can really foul up your power steering system (this goes for any hydraulic system, like a clutch or your brakes).

With the cap off, slowly begin to fill the reservoir. It will rise quickly since the system holds very little fluid. Fill it to the MAX or FULL mark that corresponds to the engine temp (hot or cold).

Be sure to replace the cap and tighten it up before you hit the road. Well done!