If you are old enough you may remember what it was like to drive a car without power steering. When the car was moving slowly or was parked it literally took two hands and great force to turn the wheel. This is the same thing that can result if you use inferior quality power steering fluid in your car. Believe us when we say it’s not a situation you want to find yourself in. That’s why you should put nothing but the absolute best power steering fluid into your vehicle.
In this article, we will tell you how to select the top power steering fluid for your needs. We will talk about many characteristics of power steering fluid that you were probably not aware of. There will also be a series of power steering fluid reviews that will show you some of the best choices in power steering fluid in the auto marketplace.
Best Power Steering Fluid Reviews
1. Genuine GM Fluid 89021182 Power Steering Fluid
If you have a GM manufactured car and want to meet all of their warranty conditions for power steering fluid this GM produced power steering fluid will meet those guidelines. It’s a power steering fluid you would want to buy even if you didn’t have to meet warranty conditions. This power fluid has been proven to work in millions of cars all across the world.
There is a lot to like about this GM manufactured fluid. It’s made with keeping the foam down and reducing power steering noise in mind. Since it is made using high mineral oil content it’s also anti-corrosive unlike other brands of steering fluid. Its year-round use and proprietary additives make is a very good power steering fluid choice.
- Meets all GM car warranty specifications
- Anti-corrosive and non-foaming
- Formulated to reduce power steering system noise
- Contains proprietary additives
- Suitable for year-round use
- Amber, light-bodied mineral oil
- Cannot be used in some other manufacturers vehicles
- Best used only on automobiles
2. CRP Automotive Pentosin Hydraulic Fluid
Here is a brand of power steering that is not made by one of the big auto manufacturers, but it’s a very good power steering fluid in its own right. This is a very high-tech type of steering fluid. It contains Pentosin which makes it a lifetime rated synthetic power steering fluid.
This formula is specially designed with clutches, power steering, and other vehicle electro-hydraulic systems in mind. It even works great for convertible top hydraulic systems. It’s guaranteed to work in a wide temperature range from -40 to 266 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Specially designed for clutches and power steering hydraulics
- Pentosin lifetime rated synthetic formula
- Guarantees performance from -40 to 266 degrees Fahrenheit
- All-weather use
- Works great for powering convertible top hydraulics
- Highly corrosive
- May not meet all manufacturer’s warranty specs
3. Ravenol J1B1001 Power Steering Fluid
Here is a very popular and well-made German brand of power steering fluid. It was made for higher-end luxury cars such as BMW, Audi, and Porsche but there is no reason this superior steering fluid cannot be used in any car whose specs it meets. It’s a synthetic and mineral oil-based fluid that has only slightly corrosive properties.
Ravenol is a proven auto fluids manufacturer that has been around since 1946. This power steering fluid from them exhibits superior performance in both high and low-temperature conditions. It’s specially designed container has a low pour point and this steering fluid is made using a non-foaming formula too.
- Designed with European luxury cars in mind
- Low pour point and non-foaming
- Synthetic/mineral fluid – won’t break down seals
- High-temp stability
- Proven lubrication manufacturer – established 1946
- Works great on most high tolerance hydraulic systems
- Cannot be used in all vehicles
- Not approved for use in GM products
4. Lubegard 23232 Complete Synthetic Power Steering Fluid
Here is a nice aftermarket brand of power steering. There is a lot to like about its special proprietary formula. It even contains two patented additives to ensure superior performance – SynergolTMS and LXE. This power steering fluid can be used in a wide variety of vehicles too.
It’s a synthetic style steering fluid that offers great power steering system protection and lubrication. This is a high viscosity formula which does not break down under extreme heat conditions which enhances its anti-wear capabilities.
- Contains patented proprietary additives SynergolTMS and LXE
- Protects seals and hoses
- Synthetic type steering fluid
- Anti-wear protection
- Wide working temperature range
- Slightly corrosive if spilled
- Not approved for use in Honda vehicles
5. Lucas Oil 10442 Power Steering Fluid
This auto fluids manufacturer always uses simple packaging but there is nothing simple about the way their fluids work. Such is the case with this power steering fluid from them. It’s a very good product that is highly rated by those that have tried it. Many of their products such as this one are tested under high heat extreme racing conditions too.
Lucas Oil’s power steering fluid not only helps your car turn easier and smoother it also conditions your power steering system as it works. Its special base oils and additives condition seals, O-rings, and hoses for longer life and better performance. This steering hydraulic fluid will also help quiet a noisy power steering pump.
- Contains special base oils and additives
- Conditions seals and O-rings
- Compatible with synthetic and mineral-based fluids
- Extends the life of the power steering system
- Oxidation and foam inhibitors in the formula
- Stops pump squealing
- Should not be used in Honda vehicles
- Not economically packaged
6. SWEPCO 715 Power Steering/Hydraulic Oil
SWEPCO has delivered a very good power steering product here. It’s a largely proprietary formula that had been proven to hold up under a wide range of extreme working temperature conditions. This power steering gets an advantage from the fact that it’s blended from High VI paraffinic base stock.
Not only does it work well under extreme hot and conditions but it also conditions your power steering system’s seals, O-rings, and hoses. SWEPCO’S LUBIUM additive will keep your power steering system’s parts corrosion-free and it helps extend their working life too.
- Contains LUBIUM proprietary additive
- Conditions seals and O-rings
- Blended from High VI paraffinic base stock
- Wide temperature working range
- Anti-foam, anti-squeak formula
- Stops pump squealing
- Not suggested for use in Honda vehicles
- Is not compatible with some other types of power steering fluid
What Is A Power Steering Fluid?
There are many processes on your car that use hydraulics to make that process work better and smoother. Such is the case with brakes and power steering. Power steering makes your car easier to turn even when you are going very slowly. Power steering fluid is the specially made fluid that is pumped through the hydraulic lines to make your power steering work. Without this special fluid in the lines, your car steering wheel would take a considerable amount of effort to make it turn.
What Is Power Steering Fluid Made Of?
We explain this a little further on in the types of power steering fluid there are. But it basically comes down to three basic types that have similar characteristics but different chemical makeups. The most popular of which are synthetic blends which feature a high amount of silicone and other proprietary additives in them. Natural mineral oil also works very well but is not as popular as synthetic blend power steering fluid. All power steering fluid systems many years ago used to use transmission fluid; it too is a synthetic blend fluid but it does not have a high amount of silicone in it.
What Color Should Power Steering Fluid Be?
When transmission fluid was used exclusively in vehicles as power steering fluid it always had a red tint to it. Synthetic blend power steering is mostly amber in color but some blends run to the clear side too. Mineral oil is yellowish or light amber in color but it’s also not uncommon for some manufacturers to put dye in it.
Power Steering Fluid or Automatic Transmission Fluid?
The choice nowadays is dedicated power steering fluid. That’s because it does a better job of protecting O-rings, hoses, and seals in your car’s power steering system. Vehicle’s that used transmission fluid in their power steering systems originally are usually switched over to regular power steering fluid if their systems are ever flushed.
How Does The Power Steering Fluid Work?
Power steering fluid is just a form of hydraulic fluid that is specially made for your power steering system on your car. Like all hydraulic fluids, it needs to be pumped to make it work. The power steering pump is connected to a belt coming off a pulley on the engine. As this belt moves, it then spins the power steering pump and causes it to continuously pump the power steering fluid through the system.
Power Steering Fluid Buying Guide
Here are some things that you need to consider when buying power steering fluid.
It’s hard to believe in this day and age that power steering fluid has not been made so it a has universal fit like motor oil. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. You have to be very careful that the steering fluid you buy matches what your vehicle specs require. If not it can lead to performance issues or premature seal and parts breakdown. It should say on your vehicles power steering reservoir cap what type of fluid your particular vehicle uses. If not, check your owner’s manual or call your car’s manufacturer.
There are three main types of power steering fluid that are found in the auto marketplace. They are:
Mineral Oil Based
This one can be a little confusing and it’s also getting harder to find mineral oil-based power steering fluids. But some auto manufacturers say they are very suitable to use. Mineral oil-based power steering fluids were the first fluid alternatives to transmission fluid in American made cars. If your car uses mineral oil-based power steering fluid, it will usually have a green-colored cap on the reservoir tank.
They call most power steering fluids that are made today synthetic blends. Of course, that does describe how they are made but it does not differentiate them much from older transmission fluids that were once used as power steering fluid. These modern synthetic blend power steering fluids have a high amount of super-lubricating silicone in them.
OEM transmission fluid
This is what used to be used in all cars as power steering fluid many years ago. It is a synthetic blend transmission that lacked the high silicone content that today’s synthetic blend dedicated power steering fluids have. It’s ok to use in older cars that already use it as power steering fluid. Be sure to never mix it with newer types of transmission fluid.
Be aware that these are not all made using the same type of formula. Many times which one you buy will come down to warranty conditions and personal preference. We will go into more in-depth detail about the different types of power steering fluid after the buying guide.
Viscosity/Working temperature range
All power steering fluids will usually list their working temperature change range. This is especially important to consider if you live in places that get extremely cold or experience extremely hot temperatures. That’s because under certain high heat conditions or extremely low temperatures certain types of power steering fluids do not perform properly.
Viscosity plays a role in this too. A power steering fluid that has a high viscosity tends not to break down under higher heat conditions. So once again consider the viscosity of the power steering fluid you are thinking about buying if you live in an area with warmer temperatures.
Just like you may have seen in our garage floor paint reviews, most power steering fluids have the same base ingredients in them. Many times a power steering fluid maker will have their own proprietary blend of additives that they put in their particular steering flood. These additives can take a decent power steering fluid and turn it into a very good one. Some of these additives are well-made and do a better job of protecting the inside of your power steering system than other brands will. So be sure to note what special additives any power steering fluid you are thinking about buying has.
If you are not careful, buying some types of power steering fluid can be expensive. Especially if buying it in smaller containers. So check the cost per ounce of the particular power steering fluid you are thinking about buying. There may be a similar style of fluid that is much cheaper.
Not all power steering fluid products come with a warranty but some do. These are manufacturers that have a ton of confidence in their products ability to do its job. This is something worth considering when shopping for the best power steering fluid.
What Are The Different Types Of Power Steering Fluids?
Not all chemical formula’s for similar type fluids are the same. So too is the case with power steering fluids. You will find different types of blends used to manufacture them. The most common ones are:
Most Common Types Of Power Steering Fluids
Mineral Oil Based
This type of power steering fluid was developed to be an all-natural alternative to manufacturer-recommended power steering. They also do not have a lot of other additives in them as synthetic type power steering has. Mineral oil-based power steering does not need them because of how well mineral oil acts as a natural lubricant and performs well even under higher heat conditions.
Synthetic Oil Based
This is by far the most popular type of power steering fluid. It’s used on just about every single production car that is produced these days. It can even be used in older cars if the entire power steering system is flushed and replaced with synthetic fluid. It contains a high amount of silicone and other protectants and lubricants.
OEM power steering fluid
While newer cars and vehicles or those that have had their transmission fluid replaced use the two types of power steering fluid mentioned above, older autos often have dual-purpose transmission fluid inside of them. This used to be standard procedure in the auto industry to use transmission fluid as power steering fluid too.
The big automakers often used their own formulas for their brand transmission fluid. They would require their particular brand to be used in order to stay in compliance with warranty conditions. These OEM brand transmission fluids had names like Mercon, Dexron, Type F, and ATF +4. They are still ok to use, but synthetic based and mineral-based power steering fluids are thought to work much better.
Benefits of Using Power Steering Fluid
Power steering fluid is considered a vital fluid in your car for a reason. Here are some of the benefits of using it.
- It lubricates and protects your entire power steering system. This helps seals, O-rings, and other power steering system parts last longer.
- Power steering fluid helps stop the squeaking noises that were once commonplace in most power steering systems.
- It makes your car much easier and faster to steer. It takes a lot of effort to do this if your power steering fluid is lost or is very low.
- Power steering fluid is designed to promote even pressure and even flow through your entire power steering system.
How to Check Power Steering Fluid
Like any other important fluid in your car, the level that is in your car has to be checked periodically. This is to ensure that you do not experience a power steering loss while you are driving because your fluid level is too low.
Here is how you check your power steering fluid:
- Step 1: Pop open your hood.
- Step 2: Locate your power steering reservoir.
- Step 3: You will see a line near the top of the power steering reservoir that says ‘fill to here’ or ‘proper level’ or something else along those lines. See where the actual fluid level is compared to where the indicator line is.
- Step 4: Add power steering fluid into the reservoir if the actual fluid level is under the proper fill line.
How Often To Change Power Steering Fluid
To be honest, power steering fluid is not an auto fluid that needs to be changed regularly. That’s because it flows through a relatively clean power steering system that does not build up dirt or grime. But there are times it does indeed need to be changed.
As with any system in an automobile that has a liquid flowing through it, there does tend to be some parts breakdown over time. There can be trace amounts of rubber from seals, hoses and even some small metal fragments. While many manufacturers do not give a timeline for changing power steering fluid, we think that changing it every 5 years or 50,000 miles or so could be beneficial.
Also, power steering fluid is normally amber-colored in nature. If you check your power steering fluid and it’s extremely dark, that means it needs to be changed as soon as possible.
Power Steering Fluid FAQ’s
Here are some of the frequently asked questions we get regarding power steering fluid.
- Question: How can I tell if I need to add more power steering fluid to my car?
Answer: There are several telltale signs that your vehicle may be low on power steering fluid. Of course, the most obvious is your steering wheel starts to take more effort to turn. Your vehicle may also make a loud squealing noise as you turn your steering wheel. You should also check the fluid level in the power steering reservoir every time your owner’s manual says you should check your oil.
- Question: I know they used to use transmission fluid in the power steering system in all makes and models of cars years ago. Is it still ok to put in my newer car too?
Answer: The answer here is no. There is a reason that newer cars do not use transmission fluid anymore in their power steering systems. That reason is there are better alternatives now. Transmission fluid is synthetic based and it’s widely thought now that mineral-based and silicone-based transmission fluids provide more protection for your power steering system.
- Question: How do I know what type of power steering fluid to put into my car?
Answer: The answer here is to check the cap that covers your power steering reservoir. If it is the original cap, then it should tell you exactly what type or types of power steering fluid should be used in your vehicle. It should also be clearly stated in your car’s owner’s manual.
- Which are the right lubricants for your car?
People do not talk about power steering fluid like they talk about changing the oil on a car but don’t mistake that for meaning it’s not a vital fluid. Your car would be very hard to turn at slower speeds without it. So it’s definitely a vital fluid that is worth spending a little extra money to get the best power steering fluid possible.
Use the information in this buying guide to help you the next time you go to purchase power steering fluid. There is much good advice in here from our team of experts. If you don’t want to put a lot of effort into searching for new power steering fluid, you can buy one of the trusted brands we did power steering fluid reviews on. Either way, you should be able to get a high-quality power steering fluid for your car.