Do I need a power steering flush?

You took your car to the shop to have your brake pads replaced and your mechanic recommends a power steering flush. You know there’s a lot of systems in your car to make it work, and you’ve heard of power steering before, but you’re at a loss as to whether its urgent, how much it costs, and you don’t know enough to form a good judgement about it. Woof, that sounds like a lot of information you’re going to need to catch up on right? Hopefully this will provide a quick overview of what power steering is, its flushing process, and give you some ideas of possible costs.

What is power steering?

Power steering is an aid to help you steer your car. Most steering is controlled through a rack and pinion system. This makes the wheels turn at the correct angles so that your car will move smoothly in any direction you turn (fun fact for the non-physicists in the room, car wheels don’t turn at the same angle when you steer your car, they actually turn around a center point that is along the radius of your back wheels). The rack and pinion system is composed of your steering wheel attached to a steering shaft. The shaft connects to a pinion, which is connected perpendicularly to a rack that connects through several more pieces to each front tire. While early cars required you to really put your back into steering to get the wheels to turn, power steering was invented as a way to take out that extra effort. Originally operating through hydraulics, this power steering system was found to be very energy inefficient and put a drag on the engine. The other type of power steering system is hybrid, which is an electric powered hydraulic system. The newest renovation on power steering is to have a completely electric system. While there are positives and negatives to each system, if you have a hybrid or completely hydraulic system, you will likely need a fluid flush at some point.

What is a power steering flush?

Hydraulic or hybrid power steering systems operate through a hydraulic pump. This pump “pulls” the fluid into the housing to send it to the steering gearbox. The gearbox employs the pressure of the fluid to help turn the wheels. The fluid then exits back to the fluid reservoir. This is actually a fairly clean process for the fluid and so there is no filter in it. Eventually, your car will wear and tear and pieces of plastic or dirt may make its way into the power steering fluid. If you don’t get a flush, the dirt and grime can damage your rack and pinion system. A flush can be done 2 ways. The first way is to drain the previous fluid and add new. This can be done by simply disconnecting a line and letting the fluid run out. This can be an option but it is very messy and oftentimes won’t collect all of the contaminants suspended in the fluid. The second way is more complicated, and is probably one you shouldn’t try at home if you don’t know what you’re doing. It involves running the car and using a power steering flush machine to collect dirty contaminants while adding new fluid to the system.

What does it normally cost?

Power steering flushes usually cost somewhere in the $100-$300 range depending on the car. If you’re not sure, you can either read your owner’s manual for your car, or give us a call and one of our technicians will be happy to answer any questions! You can also schedule an appointment at Skyline Automotive here: