Introduction: How to Bleed Your Vehicle's Power Steering System
Video tutorial on how to bleed the power steering system on your vehicle. If you have replaced any components in the power steering system which did involve removing the fluid such as a power steering pump, hydraulic lines, steering rack, etc, the system will need to be bleed of any air. Air trapped in the system can cause premature failure on the pump, hard steering, fluid cavitation, and a whining pump. DO NOT drive the vehicle without bleeding the system as you do risk damaging the pump. This particular tutorial was done on a 1997 BMW 540i.
- power steering fluid
- ramps or jack and jack/axle stands
- wood or plastic
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Locate your power steering fluid reservoir and pick the correct fluid for your vehicle. The fluid type and reservoir location should be outlined in your owner's manual. Incorrect fluids may not be compatible and can lead to a power steering system failure which maybe costly to fix. Refill the system with the new fluid with the engine off. You will notice bubbling in the reservoir which is perfectly normal when replenishing with new fluid.
With the engine off, turn the steering to full lock right and left which will push air from the system. The key does need to be in the ignition to disable the steering lock. You can have the front wheels elevated on the ground so it does put less strain on your steering components, place wood or plastic under the tires, or just leave the vehicle on the ground, it’s your preference. Keep an eye on the fluid and add when needed and continue this until the fluid level has stopped dropping.
DO NOT drive the vehicle without bleeding the system as you do risk damaging the pump. With the engine running, leave the cap on but loose just to prevent any fluid from bubbling out. Turn the steering from lock to lock right and left about four times each way or until all the air has been bleed out of the system. Some vehicles may require more than a few times. Keep an eye on the fluid and add when needed. You will notice the fluid cavitating which is perfectly normal. This will eventually disappear once the air is gone and may take a few minutes. When fluid is no longer dropping in level, the air will be bleed from the system. Turn the wheel, it should turn smoothly each way, and the pump should not whine if it’s still in good condition.