So, if you are asking yourself, “Is a power steering cooler necessary?”, if the vehicle came with one, then the answer is yes. Most of the vehicles equipped from the manufacturer with a power steering cooler are either heavy duty vehicles or vehicles with tow or performance packages. The reason for this is because these types of power steering systems are often run under extreme conditions and require thorough cooling capabilities to maintain power steering fluid operating temperature.
In addition to OEM issued power steering fluid coolers, there are aftermarket coolers that can be installed if a vehicle did not initially come with a tow package or the vehicle is having performance upgrades installed and will be utilized differently than what the OEM had intended. The necessity of a power steering cooler is solely based on the need to maintain proper fluid temp under the operating conditions of the vehicle.
Is a Power Steering Cooler Necessary
If a vehicle comes equipped from the manufacturer with a power steering cooler it is a necessary component. The cooler helps lower the temperature of the power steering fluid after it leaves the power steering gear box, or rack and pinion unit. The friction generated in the steering unit can generate enough heat to cause the steering fluid to rise above its operating temperature. This causes the fluid to become less viscous and diminish its ability to properly lubricate and cool the system. Power steering fluid that is above operating temperature can cause excess steering effort than the driver is used to, and become potentially dangerous. In addition to the fluid becoming too hot, the result can be the power steering pump and steering mechanism becoming overheated resulting in premature failure. Not all vehicles come from the manufacturer with a power steering cooler installed. The reason for this, is that during vehicle design testing it was determined a power steering cooler was not necessary. Only vehicles that run the risk of developing overheating power steering fluid come with a power steering fluid cooler from the manufacturer.