7 Reasons Power Steering Fluid is Boiling: Causes and Solutions

Power steering is a critical component in modern vehicles, designed to assist drivers in maneuvering the vehicle with ease and precision. 

By reducing the effort needed to turn the steering wheel, power steering allows for smoother and more efficient handling, particularly at low speeds or during parking.

The power steering fluid is Central to the power steering system operation. This hydraulic fluid transmits the power from the steering wheel to the steering mechanism of the vehicle, facilitating the ease of steering. It also lubricates the system, absorbs heat, and protects its components from wear and tear.

Maintaining proper power steering fluid levels is vital to the effective functioning of the power steering system. 

If the fluid boils, it can lead to various issues, including erratic steering response, increased steering effort, and premature wear of the system’s components. 

Therefore, preventive measures should be taken to avoid such problems and ensure a safe and comfortable driving experience.

1. Excessive Heat Generation

One of the primary reasons for power steering fluid to boil is excessive heat generation. As the vehicle is operated, the engine and various components generate heat. 

The power steering system, in particular, generates a substantial amount of heat due to the friction of moving parts and the hydraulic action of the fluid. 

  • Prolonged Use or Driving Under Heavy Load Conditions

Under normal conditions, the heat generated is manageable and does not impact the power steering fluid or system operation. 

However, under heavy load conditions such as prolonged driving, towing, or racing, the heat generation significantly increases. 

This excessive heat buildup raises the temperature of the power steering fluid beyond its normal operating level.

  • High Temperatures on Power Steering Fluid Boiling

When the power steering fluid temperature rises excessively, it can reach its boiling point. The boiling of power steering fluid is detrimental as it introduces air into the system, disrupting fluid flow and causing erratic or stiff steering. 

Additionally, the high temperature degrades the fluid, reducing its lubricity and protective qualities, which can lead to premature wear and tear of power steering components. 

Hence, it is crucial to prevent excessive heat generation to ensure the longevity and optimal performance of the power steering system.

2. Low Fluid Level

Maintaining a low fluid level is another significant cause for boiling power steering fluid. The power steering system relies heavily on the fluid to perform its functions effectively and efficiently.

  • Maintaining the Correct Power Steering Fluid Level

The power steering fluid serves several critical roles, including lubricating the system, transmitting power, and absorbing heat. 

Maintaining the correct power steering fluid level ensures the system functions optimally, preventing unnecessary wear and tear and prolonging the lifespan of the power steering components.

  • Low Fluid Volume on Heat Absorption and Dissipation

The power steering fluid is also crucial in heat absorption and dissipation. When the fluid level is low, the capacity to absorb and disperse heat is significantly reduced. 

This situation can result in an increase in fluid temperature, which in turn can lead to the fluid reaching its boiling point.

  • How Low Fluid Levels Can Lead to Fluid Boiling

Low fluid levels reduce the system’s ability to regulate temperature effectively. The reduced fluid volume cannot absorb as much heat, which increases the fluid’s temperature. 

If the power steering fluid gets too hot, it can boil, causing the same problems associated with excessive heat generation: 

  • the introduction of air into the system, 
  • erratic or stiff steering, and accelerated wear and 
  • tear of power steering components. 

Therefore, it’s crucial to regularly check and maintain the correct power steering fluid level to prevent such issues.

3. Contaminated Fluid

Contaminants in power steering fluid, such as debris, water, and air, are another leading cause of fluid boiling. 

  • Sources of Contamination in Power Steering Fluid

There are several potential sources of contamination in the power steering fluid. Debris can enter the system during maintenance or repairs, especially if the work is not performed in a clean environment. 

Additionally, water can infiltrate the system due to condensation, leaks, or submersion, particularly in vehicles that are exposed to harsh weather conditions or driven in water-logged areas. 

On the other hand, air can get introduced into the system through leaks or during the filling process if not done carefully.

  • Contaminants on Fluid Properties and Boiling Point

These contaminants can significantly affect the properties of the power steering fluid. Debris can cause abrasion and wear in the system, while water can degrade the fluid’s lubricating properties. 

Both debris and water increase the fluid’s viscosity, making it thicker and less efficient at transmitting power. 

Air in the system can cause aeration, leading to erratic steering and noise. These contaminants also lower the fluid’s boiling point, making it more susceptible to overheating and boiling.

  • Regular Fluid Checks and Maintenance to Prevent Contamination

Given these potential issues, regularly checking and maintaining your power steering fluid is essential. Regular checks and timely maintenance can help identify contamination early and prevent its harmful effects. 

It’s also wise to ensure that any maintenance or repairs are performed in a clean environment to prevent the introduction of debris. 

Regular fluid changes can also help prevent contamination and ensure your power steering system continues to function optimally.

4. Faulty Power Steering Components

Faulty power steering components may also lead to power steering fluid overheating. 

Critical elements of the power steering system, like the power steering pump, fluid cooler, and hoses, significantly impact the fluid’s temperature and overall system performance. 

Any malfunction within these parts can increase pressure and heat, adversely affecting the power steering fluid.

  • Critical Power Steering Components 

The power steering pump is the heart of the system, responsible for producing the hydraulic pressure that enables effortless steering. 

A fluid cooler serves to reduce the temperature of the power steering fluid after it has passed through the pump, mitigating the risk of overheating. 

Other important components include the steering gear or rack and high-pressure hoses that transport the fluid throughout the system. 

  • How Malfunctions Can Cause Increased Pressure and Heat

Malfunctions in any of these components can lead to increased pressure within the system. For instance, a failing power steering pump could cause pressure to build up, increasing the temperature of the fluid. 

A defective fluid cooler might not effectively reduce heat levels, while blockages in the hoses can escalate internal pressure and heat. 

  • Increased Pressure on Power Steering Fluid Boiling

Increased pressure and heat can drastically impact the power steering fluid. The elevated temperature may lower the fluid’s boiling point, leading to its overheating and potential boiling. 

This situation can degrade the fluid’s lubricating properties, leading to erratic steering, noise, and potential damage to the power steering system. 

Regular checks and timely maintenance can help identify these issues early and prevent harmful effects.

5. Aggressive Driving Habits

Aggressive driving habits, such as hard cornering, sudden turns, and high-speed maneuvers, put significant strain on the power steering system. 

  • Explanation of Aggressive Driving Manoeuvres

Hard cornering refers to taking corners at excessive speed, pushing the vehicle’s limits. 

Sudden turns encompass unexpected or sharp changes in the vehicle’s direction, often executed without due caution. 

High-speed maneuvers involve rapidly accelerating or decelerating, which can include abrupt starts, stops, or changes in speed.

  • The strain on Power Steering System during Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving can impose a considerable strain on the power steering system. Hard cornering, sudden turns, and high-speed maneuvers require more force and, thus, more power steering fluid pressure to execute. 

This additional demand can wear down the system components faster and increase the risk of overheating.

  • How Excessive Heat Can Lead to Power Steering Fluid Boiling

As aggressive driving habits escalate pressure within the system, they correspondingly raise the temperature of the power steering fluid

If the power steering fluid heats excessively, it can lower its boiling point, potentially causing it to boil. 

Boiling power steering fluid can degrade its lubricating properties, leading to erratic steering, noise, and potential damage to the power steering system. Regular maintenance and adopting safer driving habits can mitigate these risks.

6. Inadequate Cooling System

The power steering cooling system plays a critical role in maintaining the optimal performance of a vehicle. 

It is essentially designed to regulate the temperature of the power steering fluid, ensuring it remains within safe limits, despite the heat generated by the vehicle’s operations or aggressive driving habits. 

By removing excess heat, the cooling system helps prevent the fluid from reaching its boiling point, thus preserving the integrity of the power steering system.

  • Clogged or Malfunctioning Cooler Can Affect Heat Dissipation

A clogged or malfunctioning cooler has direct implications on the heat dissipation process. 

When the cooler is clogged, it restricts the flow of the power steering fluid, hindering the heat transfer process. 

This can lead to a heat buildup in the steering system, causing the fluid to overheat and potentially boil. 

A malfunctioning cooler, on the other hand, may fail to effectively remove excess heat from the fluid, leading to similar outcomes.

  • Addressing Cooling System Issues to Prevent Fluid Boiling

Addressing issues with the cooling system is key to preventing power steering fluid from boiling and subsequent steering system damage. 

Regular inspections and maintenance can help identify and rectify any issues, such as clogs or malfunctions, early. 

This may involve cleaning the system to remove debris, replacing damaged parts, or installing a more efficient cooler. 

Taking these preemptive measures can greatly enhance the cooling system’s performance, ensuring it effectively regulates the power steering fluid’s temperature and keeps your vehicle running smoothly.

7. Incorrect Power Steering Fluid Type

The importance of using the recommended type of power steering fluid cannot be overstated. 

This fluid operates under high pressure and temperature, and each vehicle model requires a specific fluid type designed to meet its unique operational demands. 

The recommended fluid is formulated with specific additives and properties that ensure the optimum performance of the power steering system. 

Using the wrong fluid can result in less-than-ideal performance and potentially damage the system.

  • Wrong Fluid Can Affect its Boiling Point and Performance

Using the incorrect type of power steering fluid can have adverse effects on its boiling point and overall performance. 

Each type of fluid has a distinct boiling point determined by its unique composition. If a fluid not designed to withstand the high temperatures generated in your particular vehicle’s power steering system is used, it may boil and vaporize more easily. 

This can result in inadequate hydraulic pressure, leading to decreased steering assistance and potential damage to the power steering system components.

  • Choosing the Right Power Steering Fluid to Avoid Boiling Problems

Choosing the right power steering fluid is crucial to avoid problems such as a reduced boiling point and impaired performance. 

Always refer to the vehicle manufacturer’s guidelines or the vehicle owner’s manual for the correct power steering fluid type. If in doubt, seek advice from a qualified automotive technician. 

By sticking to the recommended fluid, you can ensure the accuracy of its boiling point and maintain the optimal performance of your power steering system, thus avoiding unnecessary damage or costly repairs.

Solutions and Prevention

  • Regular Maintenance and Fluid Checks

Regular maintenance and fluid checks are the first steps in ensuring your power steering system’s longevity and optimal performance. 

This involves regularly checking the condition and level of the power steering fluid and looking out for any signs of contamination, leakage, or significant fluid loss. As per the manufacturer’s guidelines, regular fluid changes are also essential.

  • Proper Cooling System Maintenance and Repairs

The power steering system’s cooling system plays a crucial role in regulating the temperature within the system. 

This includes components such as the power steering cooler and radiator. Regular inspections for any wear, damage, or leaks and appropriate repairs when necessary will help effectively manage the power steering fluid’s temperature.

  • Driving Habits and Techniques to Prevent Excessive Heat Generation

Adopting certain driving habits and techniques can help minimize excessive heat generation in the power steering system. 

This includes avoiding rapid steering wheel movements, reducing high-speed cornering, and preventing sustained periods of steering at the vehicle’s full lock position. 

These actions can help in reducing the workload on the power steering pump, thereby reducing heat generation.

  • Addressing Power Steering Component Issues Promptly

Any issues within the power steering components, such as a faulty power steering pump or a leak in the system, should be addressed promptly. 

Ignoring these issues could lead to further complications, including excessive heat generation, which can affect the power steering fluid’s boiling point and overall system performance.

  • Using the Correct Power Steering Fluid Type

Using the correct type of power steering fluid, as specified by the vehicle’s manufacturer, is crucial for the system’s performance and longevity. 

The right fluid ensures an accurate boiling point, reducing the risk of vaporization and subsequent loss of hydraulic pressure. 

It also provides the necessary lubrication and protection to the power steering components, contributing to their overall functionality and lifespan.


Power steering fluid, an integral part of your vehicle’s power steering system, can boil for many reasons. 

These include low fluid levels, a high system temperature, improper driving habits and techniques, and the use of incorrect fluid types. 

Any anomalies within the power steering components, such as a faulty power steering pump or a leak in the system, can also cause the fluid to boil. 

Proper maintenance and preventive measures play a pivotal role in enhancing the efficiency and lifespan of your vehicle’s power steering system. 

Regular inspections, avoiding rapid steering wheel movements, reducing high-speed cornering, promptly addressing component issues, and using the correct power steering fluid type are all vital to preventing the boiling of the power steering fluid. 

Finally, prioritizing the health of your power steering system is paramount for a safe and smooth driving experience. 

It is essential to remember that your vehicle’s performance is as much about its internal components as it is about your driving.

So, take the time to ensure your power steering system is in top shape and enjoy a seamless and stress-free ride.

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