What Happens If You Overfilled The Power Steering Fluid?

Power steering fluid makes turning the steering wheel pretty easier, thereby allowing you to navigate effortlessly while operating on the principles of hydraulics. Once you have a low steering fluid, turning the steering wheel becomes difficult, accompanied by many adverse effects.

Now, what happens if you have overfilled power steering fluid? One question prompts the other – does power steering fluid expand when hot? Too much power steering fluid has adverse effects. However, it is not as severe as having low power steering fluid in the reservoir.

This article unveils the effects of overfilling power steering fluid and how to remove too much power steering fluid from the system.

What Happens if you Overfilled the Power Steering Fluid?

signs of too much power steering fluid

Overfilling power steering fluid has one direct effect – spillage, resulting in a messy engine compartment. Sometimes, you may notice foaming, which could lead to premature component wear.

Power steering fluid is a hydraulic fluid that converts into hydraulic force the moment you start your engine. It is that hydraulic force that enables you to turn the wheel effortlessly. The steering fluid also provides lubrication to system components. With foaming in the reservoir, there will be less lubrication, resulting in premature component wear and damage.

Long ago, automakers used metal in manufacturing power steering reservoirs, which makes overfilling common among drivers and car owners. Not long after they noticed these common issues, they switch to a translucent plastics reservoir.

The switch, however, reduces overfilling cases and makes filling and checking fluid levels easier. Many of the translucent plastic reservoirs have inscribed fluid level marks on them. With this in place, you can check your fluid level at a glance without using a dipstick.

If you pour too much power steering fluid, at first, you will not likely have many issues. The excess fluid will relax in the reservoir. Chances are, you may or may not have problems.

If you turn on your car and the engine gets hot, the fluid will also get hot and expand. And, as the fluid expands, you will have spilled power steering fluid on the engine. When this happens, you will have a messy engine compartment. The overfilled fluid on your engine bay can cause catastrophic issues.

If the fluid gets on your serpentine or drive belt, it causes the belt to slip, resulting in several other factors such as battery light on the instrument, and hard steering, it will also cause the air conditioner not to cool.

If the overfilled fluid spills on hot engine components such as the exhaust manifold, it will cause smoke from the engine compartment, and if not noticed and fixed on time, it can cause a fire in the engine bay.

How do you remove excess power steering fluid to curb unforeseen adverse effects? You will find out in the next following paragraphs.

How do you Fix overfilled power steering fluid?

You have seen the signs of too much power steering fluid and its consequences. Now, what? How do you fix it?

Some vehicles are designed with different reservoirs or designed so that you don’t power pour fluid directly into the reservoir. If this is the case with your car, you may not have to worry much.

The reservoir is fitted to take too much fluid and avoid spillage. A reservoir plays an essential role in holding the excess fluid and prevents spilling fluid on the engine bay until you remove the excess fluid.  Overfilling power steering fluid a little shouldn’t be of much concern.

In any case, ensure you clean spilled fluid in the engine bay before it gets hot. The best way of fixing overfilled power steering fluid is by extracting the excess fluid with a turkey baster or syringe. This is a tedious process, but it’s the best way if compared with alternatives.

When refilling or adding power steering fluid, always do it carefully and slowly to avoid overfilling or messing around the engine compartment. Or use a small funnel to do a straightforward, nice, and smooth job.

Why does my steering wheel feel heavy?

Several factors attribute to the heavy steering feel. Some of them are as follows;

Wheel alignment: If your front wheels are not properly aligned, it can lead to premature or uneven tire wear, causing the wheels to pull side by side. This could lead to heavy steering.

Tyre pressure: If you have deflated tires or one or more tires are not pumped up to the manufacturer’s recommendation, it will compromise the grip or traction before the tires and the road. This will make the steering wheel heavy to steer, which means it will require more effort to turn the wheels.

Lack Of Power Steering Fluid:  Fluid leaks and low fluid levels can cause stiff steering. Once a leak occurs or you have a low fluid level, it will reduce the hydraulic force needed to turn the wheels freely.

Thick steering Fluid: On the flip side, thick steering fluid has a peak contribution to hard or heavy steering. Over time, the steering can accumulate dirt and debris, making the fluid too thick to flow freely and lose its hydraulic properties to lubricate the system component. This can cause stiff or heavy steering at low maneuvers.

Lack Of Maintenance: Can you remember the last time you go for a system check-up? Without regular inspection and diagnosis, you may be unaware you have issues that can escalate to bigger ones. For instance, a regular inspection may detect a low fluid level that could cause hard steering.


Why is my power steering fluid foaming?

One primary reason you have a foamy power steering fluid is ‘air in the system.’ However, there are cases where you have a foamy power steering fluid due to overfilling it. You will notice bubbles and foams, and this usually happens when you change your power steering pump, rack, and pinion, or after flushing the system.

In cases like this, the foam isn’t there because you overfilled the reservoir, but because there’s trapped air in the system. It’s possible the air entered during the repair or the system flush.

Removing the air is pretty simple. It requires turning the steering wheel lock to lock. Although, some vehicles like the Mitsubishi Starion require bleeding the system to remove the air than the regular lock to lock.

How Full Should The power steering fluid Be?

The power steering fluid reservoir is either built with a meta or translucent plastic material. The opening or cap of the metal reservoir has a dipstick with a ‘FULL and LOW’ inscription to gauge the fluid level. The fluid should be on the ‘FULL’ mark or a bit below it.

In contrast, the translucent plastic reservoir has a ’LOW and FULL’ inscription on the body; this enables you to check the fluid level without opening it.  Ensure the fluid is always on the ‘FULL’ mark.

How Long Does It Take Power Steering Fluid To Work?

After replacing your power steering pump, or rack and pinion, before starting the engine, fill it with the recommended fluid. You may have to overfill it before starting, and once you start the car, the system will suck down the fluid in the reservoir.

Add more fluid to maintain the full mark.  Start the engine and idle it without turning the steering wheel. It will take about 4-5 minutes for the power steering fluid to work. After 5 minutes, turn the steering wheel lock to lock for the fluid to circulate fully

Will Too Much Power Steering Fluid Make It Turn?

As much as too much power steering fluid has its adverse effects, it will not make the steering hard. If you have hard steering consider diagnosing your system as one of the following can be the culprit.

Final word

While having overfilled power steering fluid will not cause heavy steering, it can mess up your engine compartment. If you are the person who treats his car like a baby, you won’t want to mess up your engine bay.

However, overfilling power steering fluid can cause catastrophic issues such as; battery not charging, drive belt slippage, smoke from the engine bay, and in rare cases, it can cause fire outbreaks. To prevent these issues, ensure your fluid is always on the right level.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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