Whether you’re in your car or you’re working on it, power steering fluid – or PS fluid, as it’s commonly known – is an essential item that you’ll be using on the regular.
But one question remains: can you overfill power steering fluid? And if so, how much overfilling is too much?
Is it ok to Overfill Power Steering Fluid?
Power steering fluid lubricates and cools your vehicle’s power-steering pump. For that reason, if you use too much it can cause an error message or even a breakdown.
In most cases, though, overfilling isn’t possible because power-steering systems have a maximum limit for how much fluid they can hold. If yours does have a specific fill level, follow it closely to avoid problems.
Is it Bad to Overfill Power Steering Fluid?
Maybe, but it depends. If your power steering fluid is overfilled, you’re likely to notice some problems right away. Your car may stop responding to your power steering commands and the power steering pump may start making noise.
It’s also possible that your car’s engine will perform poorly. However, these symptoms don’t necessarily mean that you’ve caused permanent damage to your car—they just indicate that the fluid level needs to be reduced. If you drain the extra fluid and return the level to normal, you shouldn’t have any further problems.
To guard against overfilling your power steering fluid in the future, be sure to only add small amounts of fluid at a time when refilling—and then check the level again before adding more. Also, make sure you’re using the correct type of power steering fluid for your vehicle as specified by the manufacturer.
Why is Power Steering Fluid Overfilling Bad?
Power steering fluid lubricates your power steering system, and having too much of it in your car can cause serious damage.
When is it time to get some PSF added to your car, and how do you make sure that you’re getting what’s right for your vehicle? Here’s how to avoid damaging your car or truck by making sure there’s enough PSF in your reservoir.
Can You Overfill Power Steering Fluid?
Yes, it’s possible to fill your car’s power steering system with too much fluid. In fact, if there isn’t enough pressure on your system, you might not be able to start your engine, and even worse –– damage can occur. But how do you know when to stop adding more? And what will happen if there is too much of it in there?
Will Power Steering Fluid Overfilling Damage My Car?
Overfilling your car’s power steering fluid can have serious consequences—in some cases, even destroying your car’s engine. Here’s why.
When you turn your wheel to drive right or left, it turns a special gearbox and fluid-filled hose called a rack (or sometimes a pinion) that goes from your wheels to a special small motor in your vehicle.
What Should I Do If My PSF is Overfilled?
When it comes to PSF, less is more. If your car has a proper amount of PSF, you should be able to turn your wheel without any resistance or effort.
Overfilling can cause leaks and other issues in your steering system that are dangerous, so always check your PSF before filling up—and if it’s too high, drain some out.
What Happens if You Overfill the Power Steering Fluid?
If you overfill your power steering fluid, the excess will spill out of the reservoir and onto your engine. This can cause a number of problems, including:
- Causing the pump to run dry.
- Damage to belts and hoses.
- The collection of dirt and debris in the reservoir.
How Much Power Steering Fluid Should I Use?
It’s important to use the right amount of power steering fluid, or else you may damage your car. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to figure out how much.
In general, the average power steering fluid reservoir holds about 18 ounces of fluid. When the reservoir is empty, it should hold all 18 ounces.
If you’re checking your power steering fluid level and see that the reservoir is half full, then you’ll need to add 9 ounces of new power steering fluid to fill it up.
If your car is older and has a lot of miles on it, you may also want to check for leaks in the system before refilling it with power steering fluid. If there are any leaks in the system, adding more fluid will be a waste because it will just leak out again. You should use 1 to 1.5 quarts, or 0.9 to 1.4 liters, of power steering fluid.
Is Overfilling Power Steering Fluid a Problem?
You may not know it, but a lot of cars have a low-level indicator that warns you when to add fluid. If yours doesn’t, check your owner’s manual or consult your mechanic to learn if there are any limits on how much fluid should be in your system.
You don’t want to overfill it, which can cause leaks and make it difficult for your steering wheel to return back to the center after turning.
How Do You Fix Overfill Power Steering Fluid?
You can’t fix an overfilled power steering fluid, but there are steps to take that might alleviate a few of its effects. Try bleeding the air out of your system first by turning off your engine and popping open your hood.
While you’re under there, check for any leaks. If none are found, pop off your reservoir cap and leave it off while driving.
Is Power Steering Fluid Flammable?
The short answer is “yes!” Power steering fluid is technically flammable, but the risk of fire is pretty minimal, and it’s only flammable at all when heated to a certain point.
But if you’re curious about all the details, keep reading:
Power steering fluid is made of mostly mineral oil—which has a flashpoint of 255 degrees F, making it flammable. If heated to that temperature or higher, it can spontaneously combust.
But other common automotive fluids have similar flashpoints—coolant has a flashpoint of 392 degrees F, and diesel fuel doesn’t ignite until its flashpoint of 536 degrees F.
On top of that, most power steering systems are filled with less than 32 ounces of fluid at a time, making it difficult for the fluid to catch fire even if it were exposed to an open flame or high heat.
And because the fluid typically travels through plastic or rubber hoses rather than metal ones (unlike brake or transmission fluids), it’s even harder for it to reach its flashpoint.
Can Power Steering Fluid Damage Car Paint?
Can power steering fluid damage car paint? Unfortunately, it can.
Power steering fluid is a hydraulic fluid that helps the engine steer your car. Most power steering fluids are non-petroleum-based. However, some are petroleum-based and can cause problems if they come into contact with your car’s paint.
The best way to keep your car’s paint safe is to prevent the power steering fluid from ever touching it.
You can do this by taking your car to a mechanic for regular maintenance and keeping an eye out for any leaks in the hose that carries the fluid from the pump to the rack or box where it does its work. If you see any leaks, be sure to have them fixed as soon as possible.
However, accidents happen and sometimes power steering fluid does get on your car’s paint. If you know that it has happened, wash off the affected area and remove any dried residue with water as soon as possible, then park the vehicle under shade until it dries completely.
How Do You Remove Excess Power Steering Fluid?
When the power steering fluid gets low, drivers sometimes add more to bring it back up to level. Unfortunately, drivers should be careful with how much they add: overfilling a vehicle’s system can lead to costly repairs down the road.
Read on for some tips about how to get rid of too much fluid, along with other helpful facts about fluids like brake and oil.
Overfilling Power Steering Fluid can cause premature wear of a number of components: rack and pinion gears, seals, pumps, and hoses. Most vehicles’ owner manuals specifically state not to overfill.
If you find a tire store or any other place that offers to overfill your power steering fluid, tell them no! This could cost you more money down the road when these components are worn out prematurely.