Modern technology has enabled man to perform tasks that were once considered impossible.
Hydraulics, for example, has made life easier by giving man the power to generate immense power from a light nudge. This technology has proved useful in the automotive world, where it is used for car brakes and even steering wheel systems.
Since hydraulics work with the help of a lubricant or fluid, it is important to keep the fluid level under control. But there are a lot of things to consider before you can decide on the best fluid for your steering system. It all depends on the type of power steering in your car and the model and make of your car.
In this article, we will talk about power steering in general and power steering fluids in particular.
Power Steering Fluid Basics
Before we talk about the different power steering fluids available on the market, let’s shed some light on power steering fluids in general. Power steering fluid ensures that your car’s power steering functions smoothly. The fluid keeps the entire steering system responsive.
The fluid generally consists of silicone or mineral based oils, but synthetic oil is also used. The synthetic oil is usually similar to the automatic transmission oil used in most vehicles. Different types of fluids are suitable for different types of power steering systems. So if you use the wrong type of fluid for the wrong steering system, you could seriously damage it.
A power steering system works by activating hydraulic actuators that transmit precise force to the wheels and assist in turning the vehicle. This way, you don’t have to expend immense force to turn your vehicle. In other words, you can apply a tiny amount of force, and the hydraulic system will increase that force tenfold and cause you no trouble.
The steering wheel is connected to the hydraulic actuators, which in turn are connected to the axle, so that the steering can function even if the hydraulic system fails. Therefore, it is not an immediate problem if the hydraulic system fails, but you must remember that replacement and repairs can cost a lot of money.
Power Steering Problems
If you fill the wrong fluid into the power steering system, the whole system can be destroyed if you are unlucky. Therefore it is important that you fill in the correct fluid. In addition, the power steering system can deteriorate over time and cause problems if you do not pay attention to the lubricant level.
Fortunately, a failing power steering system gives telltale signs that may indicate an impending failure.
Power steering fluid can also leak. There may be a hole in your reservoir or in the lines connecting the reservoir to the chamber. To remedy this, you can fill a leak sealant and then add the power steering fluid.
Types of Power Steering Fluids
A power steering fluid is usually marketed as a single fluid, but some steering systems may use different fluids. The other most commonly used power steering fluid is an automatic transmission fluid. This lubricant is less dense and tolerates hot temperatures quite well, making it an excellent alternative to conventional power steering fluids.
But on the other hand, there is not a single transmission fluid on the market. There are different types of automatic transmission fluids, and the right one must be chosen.
When choosing a power steering fluid, it is best to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation. Refer to your manufacturer’s owner’s manual and read the section on fluids. There you will find the recommended amount of fluid and the correct fluid to enter the system.
Sometimes the type of power steering fluid is printed on the cover of the power steering fluid reservoir. If you cannot find it anywhere, you can contact your nearest mechanic for professional advice. These consultations do not cost a lot of money, but even if they do cost a lot, they will save you from future problems.
Hydraulics vs EPS
There are mainly two types of power steering systems: one works according to the conventional principles of physics, while the other uses the concepts of electricity to activate actuators. Most modern cars have abandoned the use of hydraulic power steering because of the need to check regularly for power steering fluid.
The fluid can leak or become contaminated, which can lead to power steering failure. Such problems will not occur if you have EPS (electronic power steering). Electronic power steering uses electrical pulses to activate actuators, which in turn send a force to the steering rack.
As long as the electronic system sends signals to the wheels, the steering wheel works effectively. If it fails, the steering becomes sluggish. Fortunately, it is not necessary to check fluids in a hydraulic system, which is why EPS is quite famous among all cars today.
There are a number of things to consider when changing the power steering fluid. In all considerations, it should be noted that hydraulic systems are quite difficult to maintain. This is especially true for those who are not so good with cars.
Such people are at the behest of technicians and mechanics who can say and do anything to settle a hefty bill. It is therefore the responsibility of all car owners to find out about all basic maintenance work on a car so that you cannot be fooled by a mechanic.
Always check the fluid your power steering system needs, in terms of its quantity and quality. It is also a good idea to choose an EPS system if you don’t have one yet. However, hydraulic power steering systems have their advantages over EPS systems, which are often too good to ignore.