The power steering system is, no doubt, one of the most important components of a car. The system, which utilizes hydraulic devices, is designed to reduce the driver’s effort necessary to steer the front wheels. In case you don’t know, both the power steering and the front wheels are connected through a hydraulic link, which is created by the power steering fluid.
Yes, the hydraulic fluid is what makes it possible for the power steering system to run smoothly. Without it, the system will become hard or stiff to turn the wheels. You need to understand that it’s also possible for you to have hydraulic fluid inside your tank and still experience the power steering stiffness.
Your power steering system can sometimes become stiff or hard to turn. This is true when you park your car outside for a long time, in cold weather. In this case, the hydraulic fluid will freeze and congeal, making it hard for the pump to circulate it through the system.
Is power steering fluid affected by temperature? Why would my power steering fluid freeze? At exactly what temperature does the power steering fluid freeze? What is the best way you unfreeze power steering fluid? These are the burning questions that I’ll be addressing in the rest of this article. So, without further delay, let’s get straight down to business.
Is Power Steering Fluid Affected By Temperature?
Power steering fluid can always be affected by changes in temperature. A good example is when the weather is cold and you park your vehicle outside. Over time, the fluid could freeze and congeal. Unfortunately, this is not a good thing for your power steering system.
Furthermore, in extremely hot weather, it’s not advisable to park your vehicle outside. There are a lot of reasons for this. One of them is because it could affect the performance of the hydraulic fluid on your power steering tank.
Here’s the thing; in extremely hot weather, the possibility of having your power steering fluid boil is high. Even if the fluid isn’t boiling, it could become so hot – to the extent of burning and eliminating its lubricating features. If this happens, it’ll become pretty hard for you to turn the wheels quickly and easily.
Most times, when your power steering fluid is boiling, it means air has gotten into the fluid. This is possible for a couple of reasons. For instance, a leak in the low-pressure line could make air go into your system, causing the fluid to boil unnecessarily and losing its lubricating quality.
Furthermore, a leak in the power steering pump suction is another factor that could make your vehicle’s hydraulic fluid boil. That’s not all; a crack in the fluid reservoir, especially during hot weather, could also affect the power steering fluid.
That said, the bottom line is that power steering fluid can always be affected by temperature. It can be affected by both cold weather and hot weather. Of course, this depends, to a large extent, on how high or low the temperature is.
Why Would My Power Steering Fluid Freeze?
The power steering hydraulic fluid is almost the same as the brake fluid. As such, the fluid shouldn’t normally freeze. In extremely cold weather, the worst thing that could happen is that the fluid will congeal, becoming harder for the pump to circulate across the power steering system.
What exactly will make your power steering fluid freeze during cold weather?
In case you just found out that your power steering fluid has frozen, you don’t need to worry too much about it. This is certainly possible, especially if the hydraulic fluid in the power steering tank is old and has taken on moisture.
According to experts, power steering fluids should be changed at least every two years or one hundred thousand miles. During this period, the fluid would have gotten contaminated with several elements, including moisture. During cold weather, the moisture, which has already been absorbed by the hydraulic fluid, could freeze and block the power steering lines.
So, the bottom line is that the power steering hydraulic fluid, on its own, can’t freeze. Before the fluid can freeze during cold weather, it must have already absorbed moisture from the air. It’s the presence of moisture and other contaminants that makes it possible for your power steering fluid to freeze.
What Temperature Does Power Steering Fluid Freeze?
As earlier mentioned, it’s the presence of moisture and a few other contaminants that make the power steering fluid freeze during cold weather.
The temperature at which your power steering fluid could freeze depends, to a large extent, on the type of fluid. For normal hydraulic fluid, you can always expect the fluid to freeze at 25 to 30 degrees. However, some synthetic power steering fluids could flow freely below -50 degrees.
How Do You Unfreeze Your Power Steering Fluid?
Now, you already know why your power steering fluid could freeze in cold weather. So, if you find yourself in this type of situation, you don’t need to worry too much. All you need to do is find a way to unfreeze the hydraulic fluid, making it useful for your power steering system.
That brings us to the question; what is the best way to unfreeze your power steering fluid?
The best way to unfreeze your power steering fluid is to warm up the power steering fluid. To do that, you need to start up your vehicle, keeping it idle. After that, engage the power steering device by turning the wheels from stop to stop. For the best results, I’ll advise you to repeat the process about two to three times.
After unfreezing the fluid, you need to suck it out of the tank, using a syringe. After that, refill the power steering tank with new fluid.