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Power steering fluid color is one of the indicators of a perfect or faulty power steering system. However, not all colors indicate a defective system because some are just the fluid’s standard hues.
In this complete guide, we will look at the different colors of the power steering fluid and explain what they mean. Also, we will discuss the basics of power steering fluids and the various types available on the market.
JUMP TO TOPIC
- 1 What Does Power Steering Fluid Color Indicate?
- 2 How Do You Replace Discolored Power Steering Fluid?
- 3 What Are the Various Power Steering Fluid Types?
- 4 What Does the Color of Power Steering Fluid indicate?
- 5 Conclusion
What Does Power Steering Fluid Color Indicate?
Power steering fluid color can indicate if the power steering system is working optimally or has developed a fault. The color can alert the driver to change the fluid to save the system from breaking down completely. However, other colors, though they may look suspicious, are fine for the system.
A power steering fluid is a hydraulic liquid that enhances steering by forming a hydraulic connection between the vehicle’s steering and front wheels. What the fluid does is transfer the force from the steering wheel, with the help of the steering pump, to the front wheels.
As the vehicle moves, the fluid helps to increase the hydraulic force through the power steering pump, making it easier and smoother to turn the steering. Without a power steering liquid, turning the wheel will be difficult and can generate a variety of unsettling noises. The liquid is in a small container under the steering wheel and it is marked “power steering.”
Should you be concerned about the color of your power steering fluid? Yes, you should be concerned because the color can tell you whether the steering system is faulty or is in good condition.
– Red/Pink Color
Whenever the vehicle leaks a pink or red color, know that it is just a standard color for a power steering fluid so there’s no cause for alarm. Most popular car brands like Toyota power steering fluid are red.
However, take note that the transmission system also uses the same color as the red power steering liquid, therefore, do proper checks before concluding which of the systems is broken. One way to do this is to check the spot from where the fluid leaks.
If the leak is coming from the car’s front towards the driver’s seat, then chances are that it is the power steering fluid. You can feel the texture of the liquid though you won’t get much information from it. However, the liquid should feel slippery since it is meant to reduce friction. If it doesn’t, then it is time to change the liquid. Also, remember to find out the cause of the leakage and repair it because ignoring it could cause the system to malfunction.
– Yellow Color
What does power steering fluid color yellow indicate? A light yellow power steering fluid could mean that it is mixed up with another substance, possibly the engine’s coolant. If it is the coolant, then your power steering system might not be in harm’s way but you still need to get it checked.
However, your radiator could be broken and this could lead to an overheating engine. The mixing of the fluid and the coolant can damage the rubber hoses and the seals. As for the power steering fluid, just have it replaced to avoid damaging the integrity of the system.
Take note that some companies dye their power steering liquids yellow, therefore, not all yellow hues are indicative of contaminated fluid. However, be sure to check the color of the fluid before purchasing and if you’re unsure, cross-check with the manufacturer before drawing any conclusions.
– Green Color
What does power steering fluid color green mean? Some modern power steering liquids come in green hues, thus there’s no cause for alarm if you notice green liquid leaking from the system.
For example, the Prestone power steering fluid color is green. Green fluids have a lower viscosity and are better suited for colder climates. It is dangerous to mix a green power steering fluid and a red/pink one because each has different chemical properties that may affect your steering. Always remember to check which power steering fluid is appropriate for your car and the climate.
– Black/Brown Color
What does power steering fluid color black or brown mean? A dark brown or light brown fluid power steering fluid should raise alarms as such fluids do not come in brown or black colors. This could either be a case of the fluid getting mixed up with other transmission fluids/motor oil or it is dirty and needs replacement.
Usually, the steering fluid starts as red or pink or even green and as it runs through the steering system, it collects dust and debris. These impurities darken the color of the fluid and make it lose its slippery nature, hence the need to change the fluid.
A power steering fluid color brown can lose its slipperiness and cause the moving parts of the wheel to rub against each other, which can lead to its malfunction. Dirty power steering fluid symptoms include stiff steering and odd noises from the steering system. Therefore, a brown power steering fluid should be replaced as soon as it is detected to keep the vehicle and driver safe.
– Clear/Colorless Power Steering Fluid
A colorless steering fluid shouldn’t give you sleepless nights because it is not unusual. This is because most power steering liquids are dyed red or pink at the latter stages of the production process. The reason is to distinguish it from other fluids like brake fluids and transmission fluids, thus even without looking at the packaging, one can tell them apart by their colors. However, some manufacturers prefer not to dye their steering liquids but instead leave them colorless.
According to them, dying their power steering liquids could tamper with the fluids’ chemical components. Therefore, when you see a colorless or clear brake fluid, don’t be alarmed. It is just a standard power steering liquid without the dye.
If you are wondering which one between red or clear power steering fluid is better, both of them are efficient and durable. It all depends on which one is designed for your car. Therefore, purchase fluids that are specifically produced for your vehicle’s system.
– Milky Power Steering Fluid Color
A milky power steering liquid is a sure sign of a bad power steering liquid, which shows that the liquid might have come in contact with moisture. When this happens, the liquid loses its slippery nature and instead becomes slimy.
Leaving a milky power steering liquid unchecked could affect the wheel, generating some noises or leading to rough handling. The best method to solve this problem is to drain the old and milky power steering fluid and replace it with a new one.
How often you should change your fluid depends largely on your vehicle and the type of fluid it uses. However, it is recommended that you replace it every 40,000 to 60,000 miles.
How Do You Replace Discolored Power Steering Fluid?
To replace discolored power steering fluid, first find the appropriate steering liquid for your vehicle, then use a car jack to lift the front part of the car and place a drain pan under the fluid reservoir. Drain out the liquid and refill it with new fluid.
When the fluid in the steering system is black or you detect a leaking power steering fluid, then it’s time for a change to protect the integrity of the system. Fortunately, replacing the fluid is not a task that the average Joe cannot pull off. Here is how you can do it:
- First, find the appropriate steering liquid for your vehicle. This can be found in the vehicle’s manual. However, if you’ve misplaced the manual or simply can’t find the type of fluid to use, then you can resort to the internet for help. Once you determine the type of fluid to use, then move on to the next step.
- The next is to use a car jack to lift the front part of the car so you can get underneath to change the fluid. Place the car firmly on jack stands and then locate the fluid’s reservoir, which is under the hood close to the driver’s side.
- Place a drain pan under the reservoir and remove the hose to drain out all the fluid. To ensure all the fluid runs out, turn the steering wheel to the left or right.
- Once you’ve successfully drained out the old fluid, close the system and then refill it with the new fluid using a funnel.
- Lower the vehicle and drive it around for a few minutes to determine how the steering wheel responds.
You can also turn the wheel all the way to the right and then left when the vehicle is stationary to have a feel of the power steering.
What Are the Various Power Steering Fluid Types?
The various power steering fluid types include full synthetic steering liquid, mineral steering liquid, semi-synthetic steering liquid, or universal fluids. These variants are used based on the type of vehicle you drive. Most producers also indicate the kind of vehicles their products should be used in.
For example, a Honda power steering system would require a Honda-branded power steering fluid.
– Full Synthetic Steering Liquid
This is the power steering liquid that contains additives and other chemicals specifically designed for modern vehicles. It is the most common type of power steering liquid due to its many qualities which include protecting against wear, foaming and oxidation.
Oxidation in power steering is when the fluid comes into contact with oxygen, which makes the liquid resistant to flow, thus it’s unable to protect the system. This can compromise the rubber in the system and cause it to wear.
The full artificial power steering fluid has a low viscosity, which makes it useful even in low temperatures. It guarantees an excellent performance, is super durable and works well even in extreme weather conditions. It is preferred to the other types of power steering liquids because it is designed to get the best out of a car’s power steering system. An example is the Amsoil multi-vehicle synthetic power steering fluid psfcn-ea.
– Mineral Steering Liquids
Mineral power steering fluids contain some petroleum chemicals and additives that protect the moving parts against wear. They are similar to synthetic fluids but are suitable for high temperatures and can do a great job in lower temperatures as well.
The mineral-based power steering liquids enhance the performance of the steering wheel and are the cheapest of the lot. However, their downside is that they require regular intermittent changing because they lose their slippery quality quite faster than the rest.
Thus, though individually they are cheap, you’ll need more of them to keep the steering system running smoothly. Another downside is that it foams more quickly when it comes into contact with air than the other types. Foaming is when you observe foams or bubbles on the surface of the lubricant when it leaks.
– Semi-Synthetic Steering Liquids
Semi-Synthetic power steering liquid is a mix of mineral and synthetic steering liquids. It is the best of both worlds as this type has the quality to lubricate the metal parts of the system while protecting the rubber parts. It works well in both high and low temperatures and is durable.
However, there are a few reports of it destroying the rubber parts, therefore, you should be on the lookout. The best is to use the power steering fluid recommended by your car’s manufacturer.
– Universal Fluids
The universal power steering fluid contains additives that are compatible with all kinds of steering systems. This means that it is not made for a specific type of power steering system. Its properties help it to protect the steering system from wear while adequately lubricating its moving parts to ensure efficiency. It doesn’t foam easily and is quite durable as well.
However, exercise caution when purchasing the universal steering fluid because it may not be compatible with your vehicle. Most cars that can use the universal are indicated in their manuals, therefore make sure you cross-check before using it.
What Does the Color of Power Steering Fluid indicate?
We’ve discussed the different colors of power steering fluids and what they indicate. Here is a summary of all that this article has covered:
- The colors of power steering fluids can indicate the type of fluid or whether there’s a problem with the steering system or not.
- The typical colors for the system are red, pink, green and colorless; any other color could be indicative of a problem.
- When the fluid moves throughout the system, it gathers debris and dirt, which causes it to lose its slipperiness, therefore it’ll require replacement.
Replacing steering fluid is not difficult and should be done regularly to maintain the integrity of the vehicle system.
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