Power Steering Fluid Color [What Color Is It?]

Several automotive fluids are flowing in your car. Each of them has a specific function to ensure that your vehicle is running in good condition. One such fluid is the power steering fluid. Are you familiar with the power steering fluid color? What color is it?

The color of the power steering fluid usually is red. This color distinguishes them from other automotive fluids in the vehicle. If the color of the power steering fluid is far from red or pink, visit a car care shop immediately.

Its color can change depending on certain circumstances, such as when it becomes contaminated. It could take on a similar color as other automotive fluids. If this happens, it can become a problem in the event your car suffers a leak.

You would have trouble figuring out which fluid is leaking. That’s why you need to discern power steering fluid color from that of other fluids.

Read on to learn more about power steering fluid color.

Power Steering Fluid Color [What Color Is It?]

Power Steering Fluid Color

The power steering fluid color is typically red. This color distinguishes them from other automotive fluids in the vehicle. If the power steering fluid’s color is far from red or pink, it is recommended that you visit a car care shop immediately.

Its color can change depending on certain circumstances. An example of this is when it becomes contaminated. It could take on a similar color as other automotive fluids. If this happens, it can become a problem in case your car suffers a leak.

You would not be able to figure out which fluid is leaking. That’s why it’s important to identify the power steering fluid color from that of other fluids.

What Is Power Steering Fluid?

Establishes Hydraulic Link Between the Steering and Front Wheels

Power steering fluid is used in the steering system. It establishes a hydraulic link between the steering wheel and the front wheels. This fluid helps in decreasing the amount of effort needed to turn the wheels. This then allows the driver to steer and turn the car with little to no effort.

Lubricates the Steering System’s Moving Parts

The fluid lubricates the moving parts of the steering system, including the following:

  • Pistons,
  • Valves,
  • Hoses, and
  • Power steering pump.

Automatic transmission fluid performs a similar function for older cars with hydraulic steering systems. At the same time, power steering fluid is used in newer cars with electric steering systems, especially in trucks and large diesel vehicles.

Components of Power Steering Fluid

Power steering fluid is usually made with mineral oil, silicone, or petroleum, including some additives. But some fluids are made using synthetic-based oil. The fluid’s ingredients may vary. It all depends on the manufacturer, resulting in a variety of power steering fluid types.

Kinds of Power Steering Fluid

The different types of power steering fluid available include the following:

  1. Mineral Power Steering Fluids
  2. Synthetic Power Steering Fluid
  3. Semi-Synthetic Power Steering Fluid
  4. Universal Power Steering Fluids

Let’s talk about these types, their properties, their benefits, and their disadvantages:

1. Mineral Power Steering Fluids

Mineral power steering fluids are made from refined petroleum fractions and additives. They help improve the oil’s performance properties.

Using mineral fluids in your steering system has several advantages. It doesn’t have any aggressive impact on the steering system’s rubber elements. This then increases longevity. Also, it is not as expensive as other power steering fluid types.

On the downside, it doesn’t last very long. It is prone to foaming regularly, requiring you to change the fluid more frequently.

2. Synthetic Power Steering Fluid

The synthetic power steering fluid is the ideal and most recommended type of power steering fluid. Synthetic fluids have a small number of the following:

  • Refined petroleum fractions,
  • Polyesters,
  • Polyhydric alcohols, and
  • Special additives that decrease the destructive impact on rubber elements.

This type of power steering fluid has many advantages. It flows smoothly under low temperatures. This fluid enables smooth steering system operations. It also has a long service life.

3. Semi-Synthetic Power Steering Fluid

The semi-synthetic power steering fluid is a combination of synthetic and mineral substances. It has good lubricity, a low level of viscosity, and is foam formation resistant. The disadvantage of using semi-synthetic fluid is that it has a destructive impact on the rubber parts of the steering system.

4. Universal Power Steering Fluids

Universal fluids are so named because they are compatible with a variety of power steering systems. They have special additives that reduce friction and stiffness. These additives improve the responsiveness and performance of the steering parts. They also prevent corrosion and seal small leaks. Also, they reduce wear and tear on steering components.

It’s alright if you have just decided to switch to a universal fluid. However, the new fluid’s properties should match those of the previous one used in the system. So, check the new fluid’s viscosity and chemical compatibility. Make sure that it matches up with the old one.

How to Choose the Right Power Steering Fluid

power steering fluid color brown

Consider Your Car’s Model and Make

Choosing the right power steering fluid for your car will depend on its model and make. Some cars tend to use auto transmission fluid for hydraulic steering systems. Newer models mostly use synthetic power steering fluids. These are much better as they flow better in low temperatures, as well as having other benefits. 

Refer to Your Manual

Many other cars run on universal power steering fluids. Some manufacturers will recommend particular power steering fluids which contain certain additives. To be sure, it is best to refer to your owner’s manual. That way, you will know which type of power steering fluid is suitable for your car.

Again, power steering fluid color – what color is it? The power steering fluid’s normal color is red. So, if you see a red or pink liquid leaking from your car, then you have a power steering fluid leak.

What Color Should Power Steering Fluid Be?

Normal Power Steering Fluid Color

The designated color for power steering fluid is usually red, pink, or clear. If your fluid appears in any of these colors, then it is in good condition. But there are other brands such as Prestone Power Steering Fluid that come in the color green.

Contaminated Power Steering Fluid Colors

There will be instances, though, that the power steering fluid changes colors due to contamination:

  • Yellow: Contaminated by engine coolant;
  • Milky or foamy: Contaminated by water; and
  • Brown or Black: It turns brown or black when it ages.

These color changes are an indication that the power steering fluid needs to be replaced before it damages the steering system. If you don’t know how to change the fluid, you can call a mechanic to do it for you.

Before putting the new power steering fluid into your car, make sure it is consistent with the previous one. As mentioned above, consult your owner’s manual to determine if the fluid you’re using is compatible with your car’s model.

Leaking Power Steering Fluid Color

Power steering fluid is normally colored red. It is the same as the automatic transmission fluid, which is also used as a steering fluid for hydraulic steering systems. But make no mistake, despite their similarities, these two types of fluid are not the same.

Under certain conditions, the color of the power steering fluid can change to other hues. These include dark brown or black. So, when your car gets a leak, pay attention to the color of the fluid. Either there is a problem with your power steering fluid, or something else is leaking out.

Red Power Steering Fluid

A Red Leak Might Be a Power Steering or a Transmission Fluid Leak

If you see red liquid leaking out of your car, you have either a power steering fluid leak or a transmission fluid leak. To determine which it is, trace the location of the leak. If the fluid is leaking from the front of the car, it is a power steering fluid. Remember that it can also be pink or clear.

Check the Leak’s Source

In case the leak is in the transmission from the car’s center, it is transmission fluid. It may also come in a light orange to reddish-brown color. Also, check if the red fluid is leaking from underneath the power steering reservoir or the radiator. And if it also has a slippery texture, then that is power steering fluid.

Clear Power Steering Fluid

When clear liquid leaks out of your car, it is either clear-colored power steering fluid or water. If it is the latter, then it is likely due to air conditioner malfunction. It results in excess condensation and causes moisture to escape.

Check for Odor and Consistency

To be certain, check if the fluid has an odor or a sticky consistency. In which case, it is clear that it is a power steering fluid.

Brown and Black Color of Power Steering Fluid

Check if the power steering fluid color turns dark brown or black. If it does, it means that it has reached the end of its life and is burning. In this case, you would need to bleed the steering system immediately. Then, replace the fluid.

Motor Oil Leak if the Leak Is from the Middle of the Car

However, if the leak is coming from the middle of the car, you are leaking motor oil. This is usually light brown to deep black. If the leak is coming from the rear axle, then you are leaking lube oil. It has a more light-brown color than black.

Yellow Color of Power Steering Fluid

If your car is leaking yellow fluid, the power steering fluid may be mixed with the engine coolant. This usually comes in yellow as well as other colors such as blue, green, or red. However, it is also possible that you are leaking brake fluid. This comes in yellow, amber or brown, and has a slick and oily texture.

Milky or Foamy Power Steering Fluid

Water or Air Trapped in the Fluid

When the color of the power steering fluid turns milky or foamy, it means that water or air has gotten trapped in the fluid. This is a major issue for cars in general, but especially for heavy vehicles such as pickup trucks.

Flush the Power Steering System

To solve the problem, you need to flush the power steering system. Then, change the fluid as soon as possible. If not, it will damage the steering pump and steering gearbox. It will cause the steering to make noise when it turns or to jam completely.

Other Automotive Fluids and Their Colors

power steering fluid leak

For the most part, each type of automotive fluid comes in a different color. This is to differentiate them from each other easily. That way, when your car gets a leak, you can easily identify what kind of fluid is flowing out.

Other automotive fluids include the following:

  1. Brake Fluid
  2. Engine Coolant
  3. Motor Oil
  4. Transmission Fluid
  5. Washer Fluid

Let’s briefly talk about these automotive fluids and their colors:

1. Brake Fluid

Brake fluid is a non-compressible substance moving within the brake lines. It helps provide the needed force to stop the vehicle when stepping on the brake pedal. Fresh brake fluid that is newly injected into the braking system is usually amber or light brown in color.

But some brake fluids are colored yellow. The fluid will eventually turn dark brown to black as it ages. It has a slick and oily consistency.

2. Engine Coolant

Air conditioning or engine coolant helps to regulate the temperature in your car’s engine. It comes in a variety of colors like yellow, green, blue, and red.

3. Motor Oil

Motor oil is used in lubricating the moving parts of the engine and other parts that are constantly in friction. This is used to prevent overheating. Similar to brake fluid, the new motor oil has a light brown hue. Then it turns dark brown to black when it gets old. But unlike brake fluid, motor oil is not as slick.

4. Transmission Fluid

Transmission fluid lubricates the moving parts of the transmission to make it run smoothly. It helps with the rotational speed and temperature range. Also, it prevents overheating.

It is easy to mistake it for the power steering fluid. This is because it is also colored red and has also been used as steering fluid. But whereas the power steering fluid is a deep red, the transmission fluid has a bright red color.

It turns brown to black when it ages. This means that the fluid needs to be changed. If it turns pink, it means it has mixed with the coolant, which is a serious automotive problem.

5. Washer Fluid

Washer fluid is a windshield wiper fluid sprayed on your windshield to keep it clean. It usually comes in the color blue.

Conclusion – Power Steering Fluid Color [What Is It?]

The power steering fluid color is typically red. This color distinguishes them from other automotive fluids in the vehicle. If the color of the power steering fluid is far from red or pink, it is recommended that you visit a car care shop immediately.

With the number of automotive fluids running in your car, it is important to be familiar with the characteristics of each. So that when your car starts leaking, you will know where the problem is coming from just by looking at their color. And concerning what color is power steering fluid is, take close notice of its changes, as it may indicate that it’s time to change it.