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Power steering fluid exchange is essentially what it sounds like, that is, draining the old fluid and replacing it with new fluid. A little more than that happens with a visual inspection of the power steering system during the process. If the old fluid seems low there might be a leak, or if it seems especially dirty that could potentially signal a problem with a gasket or internal components. Another important aspect of the service is to understand how to properly dispose of the old fluid for health and safety reasons along with environmental concerns, as the fluid can’t just be dumped on the ground or placed in the landfill.
Generally speaking, other problems won’t be present if the fluid is exchanged according to schedule. The fluid lubricates the internal steering components and provides hydraulic pressure to assist the steering operation. Over time, it can burn a bit or gather debris and condensation, making it less efficient. It’s a natural aspect of the car’s design for this to happen and the solution is to schedule the fluid exchange according to what the manufacturer recommends for maintenance so the dirty power steering fluid can’t cause more expensive damage to the system which might require replacement parts.
The worst that can happen if the power steering fluid isn’t exchanged is the power steering stops working and the car functions as older cars did with manual steering. Should this happen, the car will become difficult to maneuver at low speeds and in tight spaces such as a driveway or parking lot, and it won’t corner as easily. Such a problem doesn’t necessarily render the car undrivable, although it might cause the car to fail an annual inspection. At that point, certain components in the system are going to be damaged and require replacement, which could include the power steering pump, gaskets, hoses, or potentially the entire system. With such a consideration, it simply makes more sense to exchange the fluid before problems occur.
Although a mechanically inclined owner can replace the fluid themselves, it generally makes more sense to hire a professional such as the technicians available at Bryden Motors in Beloit, WI and serving the surrounding areas of Janesville, Rockford, and Roscoe. They have the proper equipment to drain and dispose of the old fluid and know from experience how to conduct the process quickly and efficiently. They further know how to conduct a visual inspection while they are under the hood and notice if any other problems might need to be addressed.