Power steering fluid replacement

I took my car to a local garage for a $19.99 oil change. During the time I was waiting for the work to be completed, the shop manager came to me and told me the power steering fluid needed to be replaced. He said it was dirty, probably due to the age and number of miles on the car. It’s a 2008 Chrysler Sebring, with about 65,000 miles. He already had the power steering fluid change printed on the invoice for the oil change, at a cost of $79.99! That’s in addition to the $19.99 oil change. I told him “not today, not ever on my car”. By the look on his face, I think he knew that I knew that he was trying to take advantage of me. Up until the time of my back injury I did most of the routine maintanence on my own vehicles. I never saw the need to replace the power steering fluid. Since I’m not certified (as a mechanic anyway),maybe I’m wrong not to have it done. What are your thoughts on this? This is a true story, I kept the invoice.

Mike in North Carolina

There’s a reason a place offers a $19.99 oil change - that’s not where they’ll make their money. Its just to get you in to sell you other stuff.

That said, its not a bad idea to refresh the power steering fluid. But I’ll bet that even with you back as it is you can still do it for about $5 within about 10 minutes. Just get a turkey baster or something like it. Suck out all of the fluid you can from the reservoir. Then replace with fresh. Close the hood and drive on.

If you look at the fluid and it does look dirty, just do it again next week and then maybe one more time if you want. Its as simple as that. It absolutely won’t hurt and may actually help keep the steering system healthy.

In the old days you could leave power steering fluid alone and never worry about it. But that was back when power steering pumps and steering gears were made from steel/cast iron.

UPDATE! Everything is made from cheap aluminum/magnesium castings with a dash of plastic. So power steering fluid should be replaced to prevent these cheaper components from failure. So, spend $80.00 now? Or wait until a cheap component fails from lack of maintenace and pay $550.00?


I agree, they make thier money on some things that most people can do for much less money and a little time.
Thanks for the response.

Does your car make a loud groaning noise when you make your first couple of turns after starting your car in cold weather? If no is the answer, then save your money.

If yes is the answer, then you might want to go to the dealer, and buy the right power steering fluid directly from them, and do it yourself when you have a chance to get under the car.

When you are changing the fluid, and drain out the reservoir, look inside to see if there is a mesh screen in the bottom. Look at it, and see if there is built up carbon on it. If yes, use something to scrub this carbon loose, and suck it out, otherwise your car will still make the noise when you first turn the wheel.


I have never changed the power steering fluid in any car I’ve ever owned and I’ve never had to replace a pump, ever. Last year my '91 Camry developed a leak in a PS hose and I had that replaced. Fluid leaked out so the pump was topped off. More than a year later and I’m just fine at 152,000. Sold the '91 pickup at 193,000 and it still had the original fluid in it. The '99 Sienna is all original and the '04 4Runner is just peachy.

I’ve had Olds, Pontiac, Plymouth, Dodge… bunches of cars. Never had the fluid replaced, just topped off.


I drain and refill the PS reservoir once a year on my 2006 Toyota, so the fluid doesn’t like new.
Recently went to the dealer for a recall and they wanted to flush the PS fluid, on a car with 23,000 miles!

Why would you wait until it starts groaning? That sounds kind of like waiting for your transmission to shift hard before you think about the fluid. Its such a simple thing to just drain & fill the reservoir once a year - why not?