Ford F-150/F-250: How to Replace Power Steering Fluid

Brown power steering fluid and a squealing pump are signs that you need new power steering fluid. You don't need a mechanic to flush the fluid from your F-250 or the F-150 either. Keep reading to learn the trick to changing your power steering fluid yourself.

By Cynthia Griffith - November 17, 2014

F-150s and Super Duty trucks don't need to have their power steering fluid replaced often, but it's a good idea on an older truck. Power steering fluid replacement can cost upwards from approximately $70 in a service shop whereas a savvy shopper can obtain the necessary equipment to perform this task for fewer than five bucks.

Completely draining the power steering fluid from the entire system is difficult without shop tools. A full flush is unnecessary in most cases and simply changing the fluid should alleviate most problems. A turkey baster and new fluid is all that's really needed for a mostly complete power steering fluid swap.

This maintenance does not require a high level of skill and can often easily be performed by a novice.

Materials Needed

  • Mercon V ATF fluid
  • Turkey baster (or equivalent)

Step 1 - Locate the Reservoir

The power steering pump can be found under the hood on the driver’s side of the engine. The powersteering reservoir will be marked with a steering wheel. The cap should also tell you what kind of fluid is necessary. Mercon V is the recommended ATF fluid for the F-150 '04+ F-150s. For those with an older model F-150, the reservoir can be easily identified as it is a tube that protrudes outward about 3 inches and is connected to two hoses that go to and from the steering box. Older model F 150s respond better to PS Hydraulic Fluid unless a different type of fluid is specifically requested in your owner’s manual.

Figure 1. You can identify the power steering reservoir by the steering wheel icon on the cap.

Step 2 - Remove as Much Fluid as Possible with a Turkey Baster

Unscrew the cap on the reservoir and remove as much fluid as possible with a turkey baster. Alternatives to a turkey baster include a wet vac and a funnel, but the turkey baster is by far the most popular method of removal.

Figure 2. Use a turkey baster to remove fluid from the power steering reservoir.

Step 3 - Replace the Steering Fluid

Fill the reservoir with fresh fluid between the MIN and MAX lines indicated on the canister.

Figure 3. The canister will have a view port with slightly more transparent plastic so you can tell how much fluid there is.

Pro Tip

For a more thorough, shop inspired approach, there is an alternative process that requires a bit more time, experience, equipment and manpower. Using a bucket and an extra set of hands, you will disconnect the inlet hose from the bottom of the reservoir and plug up the hole with any available household materials. Afterwards, let the reservoir flow into the bucket via the hose but be careful not to let it go completely empty. Now, start the engine and turn your steering wheel while your helper keeps an eye on the reservoir. Repeat this process until fresh fluid is running into your bucket before topping off the fluid and reconnecting the lines.

Featured Video: How to Change Power Steering Fluid

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