Power steering: How to flush the system yourself and when to take it to a pro

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Knowing how to flush your power steering system yourself is a great way to keep your car steering smoothly....

Knowing how to flush your power steering system yourself is a great way to keep your car steering smoothly. But you also need to know when to take it to a professional. Here are a few tips on maintaining your system and troubleshooting problems that may need professional help.

Power steering maintenance

A malfunction with power steering and the rack and pinion unit is often due to hose debris in the system. Hoses deteriorate and leave debris within the rack and pinion unit, which can block valves. In that case, you need to flush your system. You can also visually inspect the fluid. It usually starts out red, pink or orange. Old fluid is usually black, brown or opaque.

To flush your system and gradually replace the fluid, disconnect the rack and pinion hose. Place the steering pump hose into a disposal container to drain. Fill the pump reservoir with new steering fluid and turn the engine on. Continue to do this until the fluid runs out clean into the container. Then you'll need to reconnect your hoses and fill your fluid reservoir. If there's any air in the system, it should correct itself with a few turns of the wheel while driving.

You can determine the flushing frequency and fluid type of your car by referring to your operating manual.

When to have your system checked

If you hear whining or groaning noises when you turn, you may want to consult an Atlanta automotive professional to check your system. These sounds may indicate failure of your power steering pump.

If you notice a leak, you should continually top off the steering fluid, since running your pump dry can also cause failure. Check your hoses and system for leaks, or take your car to a professional for repair.

If you want to replace your steering fluid totally, instead of gradually, you'll want to take your car to a mechanic. In order to do this type of replacement, you need heavy equipment like a hydraulic car lift to drain the fluid properly.

Keeping up with proper car maintenance, including maintaining and regularly inspecting your power steering system can help save you money and extend the life of your car.

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