Power Steering Reservoir Buyer’s Guide
- One of the key components of a vehicle is its steering system. It is composed of mechanical parts that work together to allow the driver to turn the steering wheel and rotate the wheels of a car.
- The power steering reservoir is a container where the steering fluid from the power cylinder flows in and through, then back to the pump.
- Foaming in the power steering reservoir indicates that air is being sucked into the system, particularly in the front seal of the power steering pump.
- An OE replacement power steering reservoir can cost at around $9 to over $145.
One of the key components of a vehicle is its steering system. It is composed of mechanical parts that work together to allow the driver to turn the steering wheel and rotate the wheels of a car. There are two major types of steering systems: the standard steering system and the power-assisted steering system.
Power steering is the more advanced form of a car’s steering system. This system enables a driver to exert less effort in controlling the steering wheel with the assistance of an electric or hydraulic system.
Power steering is designed to make steering and parking your car more efficient and much easier. The power steering reservoir is an important part of the power steering system, and once it’s damaged, it must be replaced immediately.
What is a power steering reservoir?
The power steering reservoir or the power steering fluid reservoir is a vital part of the power steering system of a vehicle. It is a container where the steering fluid from the power cylinder flows in and through, then back to the pump. The incoming steering fluid is being filtered in the reservoir and is sent back to the pump through a steering fluid filter.
Where is the power steering reservoir located?
The power steering reservoir is found under the hood, usually tucked in the vehicle’s passenger’s side. It can also be located on the driver’s side in some cases. A lot of modern cars have a heavy-duty plastic reservoir, in which you can see the fluid level without opening the container.
Causes of a power steering reservoir leak
Excessive pressure within the pump can damage the reservoir and cause a leak. The power steering reservoir may also crack and leak due to age and high mileage. A leaky reservoir can be dangerous as it can keep you from turning the car with the right force. Hence, it is unsafe to drive a car with a leaking power steering reservoir.
What causes the power steering reservoir to fail?
Your power steering reservoir should be checked immediately once you experience stiff steering issues or leaks. Once it’s been damaged or broken, it has to be replaced as soon as possible.
Here are the possible causes of the damage in your power steering reservoir:
As a hydraulic system, the power steering system uses the power of a force pushing on a liquid to create motion. This type of system exerts extreme force with little energy. This can only work properly when the hydraulic system is clean.
Unclean fluid can wear down fittings and clog the steering system. This also creates an increase in friction and may damage the pump.
Lacking or too much fluid
A precise amount of fluid must run through your power steering system for it to work properly. If the fluid is too much, the valves and seals could collapse under the pressure. On the other hand, inadequate fluid causes difficulty in turning your car.
Replace your fluid regularly to prevent this problem from happening. Also make sure that there is no leakage in your reservoir to avoid the loss of fluid and, eventually, power steering system failure.
Damaged steering pump
Steering pumps are durable, but can eventually wear out over time. Since the power steering pump is one of the key components of your power steering system, it is important to keep it in check.
Too much strain on the pump can cause it to fail. It can malfunction once pushed to operational limits like when you regularly turn your wheel extremely to the left or right. Hearing unusual noises when turning the wheel is also a tell-tale sign that your pump is on the verge of failure.
Too much force applied
Power steering can withstand extreme road conditions. However, the system’s components can break if too much stress is applied to it rapidly. Experts recommend avoiding rough roads, unless your car is equipped with a steering pump designed to handle extreme obstacles. You are good to go with a 4x4 vehicle or an all-terrain SUV used for off-road driving.
Your power steering system functions because of an engine-powered pump. Your engine is connected to your power steering pump, which is why breakage, stretching, or corrosion can cause the system to malfunction. The powering steering belt may need to be replaced once it shows signs of wear, tear, and aging.
What does foaming in the power steering fluid reservoir indicate?
Foaming in the power steering reservoir indicates that air is being sucked into the system, particularly in the front seal of the power steering pump. Air is being whipped together in the system with the power steering fluid by the vanes of the impeller in the pump, causing the froth or foam. The steering becomes heavy because this frothy liquid cannot transmit any force.
A sign that air has been sucked into the system is if the fluid in the reservoir is foamy with thousands of tiny air bubbles, accompanied by noisy power steering pumps. The fluid can be forced out of the reservoir for extreme cases.
How much does a power steering reservoir replacement cost?
If you find out that your power steering reservoir needs a replacement after a maintenance check, you can visit CarParts.com and enter your car’s specifications for OE replacement parts. An OE replacement power steering reservoir can cost around $9 to over $145.
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.