Best Power Steering Fluid

In order to help you find the best power steering fluid for your car we’ve researched and compared the leading OEM power steering fluid and aftermarket brands, checking out reviews and ranking formulas to bring you the top choices for Toyota, Honda, GM, Nissan and others. We looked at temperature range, viscosity, additives and whether each fluid was based on synthetic or mineral oils, since some power steering racks specifically call for one or the other.

Our top pick, Honda’s OEM power steering fluid, is what Hondas came with from the factory and it’s specially formulated to provide superior wear protection and maintain that signature Honda steering feel.

Top 5 Best Power Steering Fluids

 #1  Genuine Honda Power Steering Fluid

Award: Top Pick

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Best Power Steering Fluid for Honda vehicles, this is genuine OEM fluid and helps maintain or restore the famous Honda steering precision.

Pros
  • Best for Honda
  • Fully synthetic
  • Formulated to reduce wear and withstand hard use
Cons
  • More expensive than substitute brands
  • May not be ideal for other makes

If your Honda needs a power steering flush– which should be done anywhere between every 30,000 and every 100,000 miles depending on your driving– this genuine Honda power steering fluid is the clear choice if you’re looking to maintain the original outstanding Honda steering feel. It also is formulated with anti-wear additives that help to keep your rack and pinion in tip top shape.

Those who race or autocross Hondas typically change power steering fluid at least once a season, and even if you don’t put your car to particularly grueling use, a power steering fluid change can be a great way to rejuvenate the feel of a high mileage vehicle. Hondas often rack up a lot of miles, and filling up with fresh, OEM quality power steering fluid helps extend the life of components like bushings, seals and gaskets.

 #2  Royal Purple MAX EZ Power Steering Fluid

Award: Honorable Mention

WHY WE LIKE IT: Our pick for best aftermarket synthetic power steering fluid, Royal Purple MAX EZ can be mixed with conventional fluids and offers improved wear and corrosion protection to extend the life of any hydraulic power steering set up.

Pros
  • High temperature capable
  • Extends life of gaskets and seals
  • Non-foaming
Cons
  • More expensive than conventional power steering fluid
  • Not ideal power steering fluid for BMW and some Ford models

This synthetic power steering fluid offers improved high temperature performance and great wear and corrosion protection for most hydraulic power steering systems. It can be used on its own or even mixed with conventional power steering fluid. While more expensive than conventional mineral oil based fluids, it promises a much longer life between fluid changes.

This Royal Purple power steering fluid is especially appealing for high performance applications with hydraulic power steering racks. This advanced product uses a blend of select synthetic base oils plus Royal Purple’s proprietary Synerlec additive technology for improved performance, even in high temperatures. It ranks among the best power steering fluid types for many GM, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan vehicles. That takes care of your steering, but you might like the best portable air compressor for your tires.

 #3  Prestone Power Steering Fluid with Stop Leak

Award: Best for Older Cars

WHY WE LIKE IT: This Prestone power steering fluid comes with a stop leak additive that revitalizes dried and old gaskets and seals, helping to extend the life of your steering rack.

Pros
  • Excels at stopping leaks
  • Mixes with original fluids
  • Comes with anti-wear agents
Cons
  • Doesn’t work as well with many Japanese cars
  • Not as high temperature resistant as the Royal Purple MAX

Designed to help revitalize old gaskets and rack seals, this power steering fluid with stop leak is a great choice for most older domestic vehicles. For the money, it may be the best power steering fluid for Chevy and Chrysler models, especially those with hydraulic power steering racks. It can be used as an additive in older ZF hydraulic racks as well. This means it’s a good power steering fluid for BMW models made before about 2012 as well.

It’s less expensive than Royal Purple, and this Prestone power steering fluid has only a few notable drawbacks. One is that it’s not recommended for Honda or Acura, and it may not be ideal in Nissan and Hyundai steering racks either. Another is that it can take a while to see results if you’re looking to stop up leaks with it. Speaking of leaks, the best tire pressure gauge will tell you if you have one in your tires. Also, when it comes to power steering fluid Lucas makes some great products, like the Oil Power Steering Fluid which adds good quality lubricity to improve performance. Note that this is solely labeled at a power steering fluid and is not intended to be used in place of an automatic transmission fluid.

 #4  Prestone AS261 32 oz Power Steering Fluid

Award: Best Budget

WHY WE LIKE IT: Suitable for most GM, Ford and Chrysler vehicles, this Prestone power steering fluid is fortified with anti wear compounds and corrosion inhibitors to extend the life of your power steering rack.

Pros
  • Great for GM, Chevy, Ford & Chrysler
  • Extends lifetime of steering rack seals
  • Includes anti foaming agents
Cons
  • Not ideal for Honda or Acura
  • Not for cars that use synthetic power steering fluid
  • Lacks the high temperature performance of Royal Purple

A solid choice for power steering fluid changes in most domestic cars with hydraulic power steering, this Prestone power steering fluid costs significantly less than full synthetic fluids and yet helps extend the life of power steering pumps, rack and pinion seals and hoses. It also helps get rid of power steering whine and squeaks that you may get from dirty, old fluid.

While it’s not specifically formulated for high temperature use, and it doesn’t come with OEM approval for Japanese vehicles, it may still be the best power steering fluid for GM, Chrysler and some Ford cars and trucks. This Prestone power steering fluid includes anti-foaming agents that help prevent loss of assist during demanding driving. Red Line Power Steering Fluid also serves as one of the best steering oils, since it performs well and has greater resistance against heat and thermal breakdown. Also, when checking your power steering fluid level for your steering wheel, check the smell and color of the fluid as well to see how the fluid condition is and if it may need replacing. Tires are just as important for steering, so we recommend the best all season tires.

 #5  Idemitsu PSF Universal Power Steering Fluid

Award: Best Universal

WHY WE LIKE IT: This high quality universal fluid helps reduce noise and is a top recommended power steering fluid for Toyota, Lexus, Nissan, Mazda and Hyundai vehicles with hydraulic power steering.

Pros
  • Excellent for Japanese vehicles
  • Low noise operation even when cold
  • Good for most OEM Toyota power steering units
Cons
  • Not for electronic power steering units
  • May not be suitable for European and domestic brands
  • Doesn’t include stop leak

A more affordable choice when doing a complete power steering fluid flush compared to Genuine Honda, this Idemitsu brand nonetheless provides nearly the same performance characteristics and is the recommended power steering fluid for Nissan Toyota, Lexus and many other Japanese and Korean brands.

Designed to reduce noise and ensure good lubrication even when cold, it can drastically cut down on squeaking and squawking from your rack and pinion, compared to old, dirty fluid. It also contains anti-wear chemicals to extend the life of the pump and gears. It promises excellent compatibility with seals and gaskets and offers anti-corrosive properties as well. If you want to use your vehicle for transport on your next ATV trip, you’ll want to take a look at the best ATV winch too. For more options, Ravenol makes great power steering fluid well-suited for hydraulic systems since its special formula is set to the highest hydraulic fluid standards. For example, the SSF Special Power Steering Fluid has excellent low viscosity flow characteristics to withstand low temperatures. Overall, without power steering fluid, the power steering pump may wear down or overheat without the lubricant and cause expensive damage to your car, so always make sure you and your vehicle are prepared.

How we decided

In order to highlight the best power steering fluid choices for a wide range of cars and trucks, we first limited our search to include only those with proven anti-wear properties, meaning they had to at least promise compatibility with seals and gaskets, since improperly blended and dirty fluids can actually speed up wear and lead to steering rack seals drying out prematurely and cracking. Anti-corrosive properties were also considered a plus.

Next, we emphasized power steering fluids recommended by OEM automakers and reputable aftermarket providers. Enthusiast favorites, like the Royal Purple MAX (our #2 pick) were considered as well. Added high performance capability was considered a bonus.

Finally, we only included power steering fluid flush options that had the ability to mix with OEM power steering fluid. This way, if you need to top off your power steering system, you can use any of these safely without having to make sure to flush out all the original fluid.

Power Steering Fluid Buying Guide

 

Features to Consider

  1. Synthetic vs Conventional
    When choosing power steering fluid, make sure to check manufacturer’s recommendations for synthetic or conventional oil-based. In addition, if your car originally came with conventional power steering fluid but you’re looking for something more suited to high performance or high temperature use, such as autocross or drifting, you may want to use a high temp synthetic fluid rather than the OEM replacement power steering fluid.
  2. Anti-cavitation
    This refers to the power steering fluid’s ability to resist foaming. It’s crucial that the fluid not get tiny air bubbles, otherwise it can increase wear, damage the power steering pump and in some cause cause loss of steering assist.
  3. Stop Leak
    The Prestone power steering fluid (AS262–our #3 pick) on our list, as well as many of the best power steering fluids, includes chemicals designed to reduce leaks and rejuvenate power steering system seals. This is especially worth considering if you have higher mileage on your power steering rack and/ or if you notice that the rack is leaking.
  4. Anti-corrosive agents/ Antioxidants
    When old power steering fluid breaks down, it can separate into chemicals that over time lead to corrosion on steering rack and pump components. The best power steering fluids contain additives with anti-corrosive properties and antioxidants, helping preserve metal parts like the rack and pinon.

Power Steering Fluid FAQs

Is synthetic power steering fluid better?

For most applications, it’s better to go with the type of fluid (synthetic or conventional) that the manufacturer recommends. However, some drivers do switch to synthetic power steering fluid as an upgrade.

Can you just add power steering fluid?

As long as the power steering fluid you add is compatible with the type that is already in the car, it’s fine to “top off.” Be careful not to overfill your power steering reservoir, however, as this puts a strain on the pump and can lead to premature failure.

How do you know if you need power steering fluid?

If your rack is low on fluid you’ll sometimes hear a tell-tale “squawk” when turning the wheel hard. This is especially apparent near full lock, when the wheels are turned all the way to one side or the other. Whether or not your rack is low on fluid, you should flush the power steering fluid on most cars every 60,000 to 100,000 miles, but some manufacturers recommend more frequent changes.

What is special about Honda power steering fluid?

Honda power steering fluid is specifically designed to work in Honda’s particularly demanding OEM power steering systems, and it helps them achieve the much-praised and sought after “Honda steering feel.” Through the 1990s Honda was known for quick ratio hydraulic power steering racks that offered superior precision and road feel. OEM Honda power steering fluid works as an upgrade for many Japanese vehicles as well.

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Ryan Mcbride

Ryan McBride is a writer based in Los Angeles. He has contributed work to magazines and sites including Gayot, Spy, Paper, Ladygunn, 3AM and the Crab Creek Review. He writes consumer reviews, essays, science and tech journalism as well as literary and art criticism.

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