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Power Steering Cooler Replacement Cost

Know what price you should pay to get your vehicle fixed.

The average cost for a Power Steering Cooler Replacement is between $164 and $402. Labor costs are estimated between $70 and $178 while parts are priced between $94 and $224. Estimate does not include taxes and fees.
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What is a Power Steering System Fluid Cooler?

The power steering system fluid cooler is a small device that looks much like a radiator, works much like a radiator, and is mounted near the radiator. Air passing over the power steering fluid cooler lowers the temperature of the power steering fluid and power steering system, and allows the power steering fluid to remain much more effective. This prevents the power steering fluid from becoming too thin for normal operation, and stops premature breakdown of power steering components.

How does the Power Steering System Fluid Cooler work?

An extension of the power steering system, the power steering cooler is constantly filled by a power steering fluid feed line, while a power steering fluid return line will constantly drain that fluid back into the power steering pump reservoir. While the fluid is being passed through the cooler, it is being cooled because of tiny metal fins that are attached to the cooler core are in constant contact with flowing air. Since the fins are so thin, they cool very quickly. This is a highly reliable and effective means of cooling power steering fluid which is hot from being pumped under high pressure through a series of gears and valves. Especially during extreme operating conditions, the power steering fluid cooler helps maintain the viscosity of power steering fluid, preventing breakdown and allowing the power steering system to remain protected in the harshest of conditions.

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What are the symptoms of a bad Power Steering System Fluid Cooler?

Power steering fluid coolers seldom fail except for two main reasons. Leaks are the leading cause since the cooler is always under pressure and hot. The feed and return lines, seals, and power steering fluid cooler core will eventually wear out, and small perforations or seal degradation will take hold. This necessitates replacement or resealing of the cooler or lines. This will be obvious as an oil leak will be coming from somewhere other than the engine, most likely somewhere around the front bumper cover. Also, if the cooler cannot pass fluid through the cooler core, the cooler will block power steering fluid from returning to the power steering reservoir. If this occurs, the driver will likely be alerted by groaning, squealing, or gurgling from the power steering pump and reservoir due to lack of fluid. Finally, power steering system temperature warning lamp, check engine light, or power system system warning lamp may illuminate if the power steering fluid cooler is blocked by debris from the front, or if the fins on the cooler have become bent over the course of time. This, however, does not often require replacement, as there are specialty combs made to straighten and clean the fins on the power steering cooler to restore functionality.

Can I drive with a bad Power Steering System Fluid Cooler?

Power steering cooler failure is dangerous for the power steering system. The power steering pump needs a constant supply of cool power steering fluid that is the correct viscosity, and maintains its protective abilities. Viscosity and protective ability are crucial to the continued operation of any machine, and are directly related to the temperature of the power steering fluid. If the cooler is blocked, clogged, or leaking, the system has been compromised, and the power steering system is at risk. Immediate attention is necessary to help prevent future failure.

How often do Power Steering System Fluid Coolers need replacement?

Power steering fluid coolers are most likely to be damaged in a collision involving the front of the vehicle. Due to their location, like the radiator and air conditioning condenser, the cooler is often one of the first components damaged when the bumper and bumper cover do not absorb all of the impact from a collision. Aside from collisions, a power steering fluid cooler should not require replacement for several years, and at least 100,000 miles. This will decrease with lack of maintenance and severe operating conditions. The return and feed lines for the power steering fluid cooler will likely require resealing long before the cooler has a chance to fail.

How are Power Steering System Fluid Cooler issues diagnosed?

When the power steering pump makes noises to the effect of those stated under syptoms, the first thing a technician will do is check the fluid level, and check for leaks. If the cooler and lines are leaking, they will be replaced. Secondly, a check engine light, power steering fluid temperature warning lamp, or power steering system warning lamp is displayed, reading the codes may help the technician narrow the issue to the power steering cooler, especially if the power steering pump is making noise. The power steering fluid cooler will be examined, and the fins may be cleaned and straightened as a diagnostic measure. Next, if low flow is detected, the technician may remove and backflush the cooler, pressure test the cooler, or check system pressures before and after the power steering fluid cooler. This will show where pressure is lost, and where restriction exists in the system.

How are Power Steering System Fluid Coolers replaced?

Replacing the power steering fluid cooler involves removing the mounting hardware or fasteners, disconnecting the two lines from the cooler, and installing the new cooler assembly in its place. Afterwards, the power steering system will be flushed, drained and refilled with clean power steering fluid. If the power steering fluid cooler is part of the vehicle's radiator, the engine cooling system would be drained, radiator removed, and the cooling system would be refilled and bled after the repair is complete. Lastly, the technician would bleed the power steering system, drive the vehicle, monitor power steering system pressure and temperature, and possibly manually clear the OBD trouble codes before confirming the repair.

RepairPal Recommendations for Power Steering System Fluid Cooler issues

Bypassing or removing the power steering fluid cooling system is not recommended, as this is more of a hindrance to proper operation than a repair. In an emergency, looping past the oil cooler, and back to the power steering reservoir is ok, but no strenuous driving should take place as this may cause additional damage.

What to look out for when dealing with Power Steering System Fluid Cooler issues

When the liftgate support struts are worn out, no one should not be allowed to stand between the liftgate and rear bumper, especially if the existing liftgate support struts can be made to stay in the opened position after a few tries. The slightest wind or jarring of the vehicle can cause the liftgate to swing down violently and crush anyone in its path. The use of a prop rod, like a strong piece of wood or a broom handle, is necessary if there will be loading or unloading done. Also, there should be someone there to hold the liftgate just in case. The weight of the liftgate is very much heavier than it seems with working support rods.

Can I replace the Power Steering System Fluid Cooler myself?

A blocked or leaking power steering fluid cooler can be diagnosed by anyone, and the radiator comb available to straighten fins and removed debris is consumer available at most parts stores. A leaking cooling unit can be replaced at home with a quality set of line wrenches or quick disconnect tools, depending on the make and model. The beginner DIYer could accomplish this task with a little assistance as long as removal of body panels is not required to access the power steering fluid cooler. In the event that there is blockage in the power steering system, consider consulting a professional before proceeding with the repair at home.

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