There are two ways power steering fluid can find its way on or into your engine. You could either spill some on the engine when replacing the fluid in the power fluid steering reservoir.
Or, if the hose transmitting the power fluid steering has a leakage, it may drench the engine with this fluid. Irrespective of how the power steering fluid gets into your engine, it is crucial that you clean it as soon as possible.
The engine is a very delicate car component and it wasn’t designed to accommodate oils or other fluids that don’t support its functions except for engine oils.
Therefore, leaving power steering fluid on your engine puts the mechanical processes of your car at risk. The engine, being as delicate as it is, you can’t just wash the power steering fluid with any cleaner or detergent.
You have to use cleaning products or ingredients that are safe on the engine and its parts.
Also, these cleaners need to be strong enough because stains from power steering fluids can be stubborn to clean especially if they have been there for a while.
In this article, I am going to share with you some of the products you can use to clean power steering fluid off the engine.
We are also going to look at how you should clean the engine properly to avoid damaging sensitive components and how you should handle power steering fluid leaks and refills.
Table of Contents
- What Can I Use to Clean Power Steering Fluid off the Engine?
- Tips to Follow When Cleaning Power Steering Fluid off the Engine
- Handling Your Car’s Power Steering Fluid
- How to Know If My Power Steering Fluid is Leaking?
- How Do I Stop a Leaking Power Steering Fluid?
- Will Overfilling the Power Steering Fluid Cause It to Leak?
What Can I Use to Clean Power Steering Fluid off the Engine?
Car Shampoo and Pressure Washer
Pressure washers have significantly simplified the car washing process. Water when sprayed at high pressure on car components, the force removes dirt and grime on contact. As great as pressure washing a car is, there have been some concerns regarding using it on the engine.
In the engine, several electrical components will stop functioning when they get into contact with high-pressure washers. So, you need to be very careful when using this method to clean power steering fluid off the engine.
I have listed this as the first option because it is the easiest and all the tools needed to perform this type of cleaning are widely available.
To clean power steering fluid off the engine with a pressure washer, apply some cleaner, preferably a car wash shampoo, on the engine. Let it settle for a few minutes then blast it with the pressure washer.
Make sure that you hold the wand a little bit far from the engine so that a lot of water doesn’t get inside.
If possible, lower the pressure and then spray your engine. Focus on the areas where there is a lot of power steering fluid residue. Once it’s clean, switch off the pressure washer and let it dry.
You can use a soft rag to wipe connectors. Don’t switch on the car right away, water droplets may have found their way into the car’s electrical system and this could cause short circuits.
The Good Old Fashioned Engine Degreaser
If your power steering fluid hose was leaking then you are better off cleaning the engine with a degreaser. An engine degreaser won’t just clean the power steering fluid but will remove oil build-up from your engine’s compartments.
There are several engine degreasers on the market, with examples including WD-40, Chemical Guys Signature Degreaser, and the Griot Garage Engine Cleaner.
The procedure of cleaning power steering fluid with an engine degreaser is a bit different than the one described above.
You will need to first remove debris or dirt build-up on the engine bay. You can use a soft brush to do this. Then, before applying the degreaser, cover all electrical components.
You can improvise and use a plastic bag to cover fuses and connectors. Don’t forget to also cover any loose wires lying around and spark plugs.
The last step before you get to the degreasing is running your engine for about five minutes. It’s easier to degrease your car when the engine is hot.
Take your degreaser and start spraying it on the engine when it is switched off. Make sure you are very careful about where you spray the liquid. Leave it on for a couple of minutes so that it can dissolve the power steering fluid.
Spray the engine with water from a hose and you will be surprised at how new your engine will look. Degreasers are one of the best ways of cleaning engines. Though this process takes time, it guarantees a thorough cleanse of your car’s engine.
When replacing power steering fluid, did you accidentally spill some on your car engine? Well, rubbing alcohol is a fast and efficient cleaner of fluids and can get rid of the most stubborn stains.
The reason why I have listed using rubbing alcohol as the last option is because there are some risks associated with using rubbing alcohol to clean power steering fluid off your engine.
First off, rubbing alcohol is highly flammable. Replacing it with a degreaser, car wash shampoo or water is very dangerous as it can easily burst into flames.
Secondly, even though rubbing doesn’t react with aluminum alloys (the metal used to make engines) at room temperature, it can eat through wires and other electrical components found in the engine.
Only use rubbing alcohol when there is no other method of cleaning power steering fluid off the engine. Also, when using this cleaning agent, restrict yourself to only using small amounts.
Make sure that you are only wiping the rubbing alcohol on power steering fluid stains. Don’t take a gallon of rubbing alcohol and pour it on the engine.
Instead, dab some on a piece of cloth and wipe your engine. Don’t forget to disconnect the battery and switch off your car before using this method.
For safety purposes, rubbing alcohol should be used by professional mechanics to clean power steering fluid off engines.
Car owners should stick to degreasers and pressure washers, not unless they are familiar with the different parts of the engine and how they would react when they make contact with 99% isopropyl alcohol.
Tips to Follow When Cleaning Power Steering Fluid off the Engine
- Before even cleaning the power steering fluid, find out where it is coming from. Is it a leak or did you accidentally spill some?
- Irrespective of which product you decide to use, ensure the car is switched off and the battery is disconnected during cleaning.
- Cover all electrical components and wires so that they don’t get into contact with cleaners.
- If you are clueless about your car’s engine, the parts that need to be avoided, and even why the steering fluid is on your engine, take your car to the professionals for expert help. This however doesn’t need to be the case. Using the above guide, you should be able to clean power steering fluid off your car, even if you have little know-how of your car’s engine.
Handling Your Car’s Power Steering Fluid
As much as you may want to get rid of power steering fluid stains off your engine. The question you should be asking yourself is – where is this liquid coming from?
The most common issue associated with power steering fluids finding their way into engines is because of leaks.
How to Know If My Power Steering Fluid is Leaking?
Noticing a leak in a car should be very easy for any careful motorist. Before you drive off your garage or parking, you should always inspect the condition of your car.
If you happen to notice drops in your parking area, then that should signal a leak. The problem with leaks usually arises when it’s time to determine what is actually leaking.
Not unless you know what your power steering fluid smells and looks like. You will have to go under the bonnet and try to see where the leakage is coming from.
The power steering pump is often located near the valve cover. There are also power steering lines that that is located near the motor. So, if leaks are coming from any of these areas then it is your power steering fluid.
The easiest to distinguish how power steering fluid is leaking is by checking its levels in your reservoir.
If you notice that you are refilling the reservoir more than often then you could have a leak somewhere in your systems. As you try to clean the stains on your engine, make sure that you deal with the leaks.
How Do I Stop a Leaking Power Steering Fluid?
The easiest fix is usually to use a power steering leak stop product. BlueDevil makes one of the most efficient power steering leak stop fluids in the market, which guarantees to stop the leakages faster and permanently.
Alternatively, you can have a mechanic identify where the leakage is coming from and replace any parts that may have been damaged.
Will Overfilling the Power Steering Fluid Cause It to Leak?
This will depend on the model of your car. There are some cars whose reservoir can’t accommodate excess power steering fluids, thus resulting in leakages. This occurs when the engine is turned on, and the fluid expands because of the heat.
It is wrong to overfill your power steering fluid reservoir as the leaks may cause a huge mess on the engine. Should the leakage get to the belts, they can slip and be damaged severely. Forcing you to part with hundreds of dollars in repairs.