Does your power steering system moan and groan when you are trying to pull into a parking space? Does your driveway have the tell-tale dark spots of a power steering leak? Or are you just wanting to head off these problems before they take hold in your car? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you need to keep reading.
Just about every modern vehicle on the road has power steering. This is not just a “creature comfort”, power assisted steering is a safety and drivability function of your vehicle. Without it, the steering effort becomes much more difficult, to the point that it is almost impossible to steer the vehicle without out. The reason for this is that the system is designed for power assist, it is heavy without it. A vehicle without power assist has different ratios inside the steering box or rack and pinion to compensate.
Maintaining the function of your power steering system is critical for daily use. Over time, contaminants and wear will reduce the efficiency of your power steering pump. Eventually, this will cause lower internal hydraulic pressure and leaks. Symptoms of these issues include harder steering, pump groan, and in really bad cases, a steering wheel that turns itself due to a plugged or stuck valve.
You can often alleviate these issues with a power steering flush. Using some chemicals from Trans-X, your old power steering pump can be refreshed. This particular product is called Slip-Stop, and is designed for transmissions. Because the power steering pump is hydraulic in nature, this will work for it as well. Slip-Stop will freshen up the seals and bearings inside the pump and steering valve, while removing gunk build up. This is a flush treatment, so there will be a mess.
With the engine running, remove the cap from the power steering reservoir and pour in about half of the bottle of Slip-Stop. Replace the cap.
Get into the driver’s seat and turn the wheel to the full turn lock side to side about 10 times. While you are doing this, rev the engine slowly from idle to about 2500 rpm several times. This helps get the fluid moving. Now drive the vehicle for 10-15 minutes and return to your work area and shut off the engine. Let the engine cool.
Once the engine is cool, remove the return hose from the reservoir and drain all of the fluid into a drain pan. Turn the steering wheel 10 times lock to lock to help purge the fluid from the steering box. Once the fluid has stopped draining, reinstall the hose.
Pour the remaining Slip-Stop into the reservoir and top off with NAPA Power Steering Fluid. With the engine off, turn the wheel lock to lock 10-15 times to purge any air from the steering box.
Start the engine. The reservoir will be low on fluid at this point, so top it off with more NAPA Power Steering Fluid.
Now your power steering system should be clean and ready for daily use. Over time, the Slip-Stop will continue to remove sludge build-up from your system. After 6 months, do another power steering flush to finish the job.
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A life-long gearhead, Jefferson Bryant spends more time in the shop than anywhere else. His career began in the car audio industry as a shop manager, eventually working his way into a position at Rockford Fosgate as a product designer. In 2003, he began writing tech articles for magazines, and has been working as an automotive journalist ever since. His work has been featured in Car Craft, Hot Rod, Rod & Custom, Truckin’, Mopar Muscle, and many more. Jefferson has also written 4 books and produced countless videos. Jefferson operates Red Dirt Rodz, his personal garage studio, where all of his magazine articles and tech videos are produced.