A power steering system that is functioning properly can be the difference between having an accident or avoiding one. The power steering gives you an edge when it comes to making quick steering moves, because the hydraulic pressure in these systems makes it almost effortless to control the vehicle. However, when air enters the power steering line, it can make steering become a fight. A growling or whining noise usually means the system has air in it and it needs bleeding.
Things You'll Need
- Car jack
- Jack stands
- Vinyl tubing
- Hydraulic fluid
- Adjustable wrench
Remove the cap from the power steering reservoir and check the fluid level to see whether it is low on fluid. Perform this same step when the fluid is cold (vehicle has sat overnight) as well as when the fluid is hot (vehicle has just been used) so you can note if there’s a difference. Leave the reservoir cap off and ask your helper to crank the vehicle and turn the wheel sharply as far as it will go to the right and then to the left.
Check the reservoir as this is happening to see whether the fluid appears to be foaming, which indicates air is getting into the power steering system. Shut down the engine. Add power steering fluid to the reservoir if it is below the cold indicator line. Locate the bleeder valve and spray on some liquid wrench or WD-40.
Raise the vehicle off the ground with a car jack and place jack stands underneath to make steering easier. Lock all the equipment in place using the safety latches. Put a piece of vinyl tubing on the bleeder valve. Restart the engine. Place a plastic container underneath the bleeder valve and vinyl tubing.
Slowly open the valve with an adjustable wrench so you can bleed the power steering system of air and fluid, but be careful not to bleed the system completely dry. Turn the steering wheel sharply to the left and then to the right a few times. Shut off the bleeder valve and add new power steering fluid. Continue to do this repeatedly until the bubbles no longer appear in the fluid.
Tips & Warnings
- Running a return line to the reservoir will keep the system from running dry.
- Read the manual that came with your vehicle so you can purchase the power steering fluid recommended by the manufacturer. Failing to use the recommended power steering fluid can void your vehicle warranty.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
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