Tips in Selecting a New Power Steering Reservoir
To make steering your vehicle easier, most cars today are equipped with a hydraulic power-steering assembly that uses a special fluid stored in the power steering reservoir. With this special fluid, turning your ride’s steering wheel won’t require too much effort. However, the fluid’s reservoir can leak. Over time, its gaskets can crack or fail, or the fluid tank can get punctured. Once the reservoir is damaged beyond repair, you’ll have to find a reliable replacement as soon as possible. Here are some tips:
Stick to blow-molded plastics.
A power steering reservoir should be highly resistant to extreme heat to prevent it from cracking. So if you’re looking for a replacement, a blow-molded reservoir is an ideal choice. The construction behind this type of tank ensures a high crack resistance even when exposed to extreme heat. Metal reservoirs are also available, but high-quality plastic tanks are more affordable and practical. With a clear, plastic tank, it’s easier to check the fluid level without using a dipstick or a fluid level sensor.
Double-check if the reservoir comes with an o-ring.
If the leak is caused by a reservoir that is near the end of its lifespan, it’s best to get a new tank and o-ring as well. Keep in mind that the gasket will wear out over time, making it harder for the tank to hold the power steering fluid in. The gasket can be bought separately, but you’ll get a good deal if you find a high-quality yet affordable reservoir that already comes with a top-grade o-ring.
Go for a tank with a gradated cap dipstick.
Checking your car’s power steering fluid levels on a regular basis helps detect leaks and other problems as early as possible. To make this maintenance task easier, choose a reservoir with a gradated cap dipstick. With this type of cap dipstick, you’ll easily figure out if the amount of remaining fluid is still within the acceptable level. However, make sure that this type of tank and cap is suited to your vehicle’s specs. Depending on your car’s make and model, the gradations can either be labeled as “hot” and “cold” or “min” and “max.”
Replace a Power Steering Reservoir in 5 Steps
A busted power steering reservoir can lead to various steering problems. The worst-case scenario is for you to lose control of your vehicle when performing an evasive maneuver. So before a busted fluid tank causes more trouble, replace it ASAP. Fortunately, this installation process is easy. Here’s how:
Difficulty level: Easy
- Line wrench
- Jack and jack stands
- Socket wrench
- Drain pan
- Open wrench
- Clean rag
- Power steering fluid (for refilling)
Step 1: Disconnect the belt from the power steering pump. Locate your alternator or serpentine belt’s tensioning nut. Release tension by using a ratchet wrench. Once tension is removed, pull off the belt from the pulleys to relieve pump pressure.
Step 2: Disconnect the pump lines. With a line wrench, loosen the metal fluid line’s coupling. Then move the metal tube away from the pump and out of the way, but make sure that there’s a drain pan underneath to catch excess fluid that spills down. Using a screwdriver, loosen the pump’s rubber hose screws.
Step 3: Remove the pump. Locate the bolts that attach the pump onto the block, which are usually in the pulley or outside the pump housing. Check your vehicle manual since the exact location will depend on your car make and model. Remove these bolts with a socket wrench and pull out the pump from the assembly.
Step 4: Disconnect the power steering reservoir from the pump. The reservoir is attached to the body of the pump and is usually held in place by a couple of metal tabs. Use a screwdriver to pry these tabs off so you could remove the reservoir from the body of the pump. When removing the fluid tank, make sure to not damage the o-ring if you’re not planning to replace this gasket.
Step 5: Attach the new reservoir. Using a rag, wipe the steering pump’s surface. Place the new reservoir in position, making sure it’s aligned with the pump. The metal nipple from the pump should fit right over the new tank’s mating surface. Lock the tank in place by reinstalling the metal tabs. Don’t forget to bolt the steering pump back in place, reconnect its rubber hose, the metal line, and other pump lines, reattach the belt into the pulley, and tighten the belt’s tension nut. Refill the tank with power steering fluid.