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With the cooler being placed at the front of the vehicle it is not protected from the elements very well. Here is a list of things that can help you determine if your power steering cooler is bad. Often this can result in rust developing from exposure to the elements – early signs that point to a failing power steering cooler. Most power steering coolers are also painted steel which is much more prone to rusting than aluminum. You will often see a small amount of fluid either on the cooler where the hoses attach to it or you may also see signs of fluid dripping on the ground under your vehicle.


To check to see if you power steering is bad, we recommend to inspect for fluid leaks from your power steering cooler with the power steering fluid level full and the vehicle running. You may also have someone turn the wheel side to side while the vehicle is running to force fluid through the cooler. Often the first sign of any power steering failing or leaking will be a noise coming from under the hood. This indicates the power steering pump is developing cavitation, where air is trapped in a system that is designed to solely pump fluid. This could be a sign of that your power steering cooler is bad.


Another common failure point for a power steering cooler is blockage. A blockage in the power steering cooler will often develop after another component on the power steering system has failed internally. This type of failure often occurs from pieces of metal being forced through the cooler. The cooler is developed to slow the fluid down as it passes through in order to maximize cooling effectiveness, but this also creates the perfect spot for contaminants to gather. A clogged power steering cooler will often cause stiff steering. If your steering system is requiring more effort than required previously and the system is still full of fluid and no leaks are present, you probably have a clog in the system somewhere. Determining where the clog is can be difficult, but it is a good idea to check your power steering cooler first.


We hope that these tips help you to see if your power steering cooler is bad. Should it be time to ask about replacement parts or learn more on power steering, you can find more info in our Ask the Experts forum.

Power Steering Q & A > How To? > How Do You Know If Your Power Steering Cooler Is Bad?

How Do You Know If Your Power Steering Cooler Is Bad

You may be wondering how to know if your power steering cooler is bad. A failing power steering cooler can develop in several different ways. Traditionally power steering coolers are in the front of both the air conditioning condenser and the radiator. This placement is often referred to as “first air”. The reason for the placement is that the cooler is often much smaller than any other cooling elements. Therefore, it does not block a lot of air running through other components. This front placement - while beneficial to the cooling purpose - can be detrimental to the longevity of the cooler.

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