Accidentally put power steering fluid in the coolant reservoir

Accidentally Put Power Steering Fluid in the Coolant Reservoir

A car is the main vehicle used in the world as it provides comfort to travel and removes the distance from our relations. Improper maintenance or accidental mistakes can cause many issues that cause problems and discomfort at once.

One such error is mistakenly filling the coolant reservoir with the power steering fluid. Can it affect the functioning of your car? If yes, then how can you solve this problem? I am, as a technician expert on the car, available here to guide you in understanding the actual situation.

First, sterling fluid in the coolant cannot show diverse effects quickly, but you have to flush your coolant reservoir as soon as possible. On the other hand, if the steering fluid stays in the coolant for a long time, it can cause catastrophic leakage due to the malfunctioning of hoses, radiators, thermostats, and many more. Moreover, the steering system cannot cool down your engine, and the engine becomes hotter and hotter as long it runs. Let’s discuss them in detail:

Consequences of Putting Power Steering Fluid in the Coolant Reservoir:

Specific fluids are designed to perform particular functions in different car parts. Putting the wrong fluid in any part can affect the functionality of that part.

So, be conscious while changing the fluids. But if it accidentally happens that you put the power steering fluid in the coolant reservoir, then there are some possible diverse situations that you have to face.

1. Makes Your Engine Hotter and Hotter:

The coolant reservoir is designed to maintain the engine’s temperature while running. And it is only possible with the fluid, which we know as coolant or antifreeze.

It has the ability to absorb the heat from the engine’s surroundings and prevent the engine from overheating. However, the properties of the power steering fluid are not the same as a coolant.

The power steering fluid is designed to lubricate the steering system to turn the wheel easily. Hence the engine becomes hotter more quickly as the car runs long.

And your engine will stall down, and you cannot continue driving. That way, it is essential to avoid such types of mistakes.

2. Causes of Damage and Leakage:

The composition of the power steering fluid is designed as the lubricant. So it contains many chemicals and additives incompatible with the different parts of the coolant system. Mostly rubber parts such as hoses and seals are degraded by power steering fluid.

Moreover, the prolonged stay of power steering fluid in the coolant reservoir causes the corrosion of metal parts. These destructions result in the leakage of fluid from the coolant system, causing more severe issues.

damage coolant reservoir due to PSF mix
Source: Mechanic Base

3. Clogging of the Cooling System:

The chemistry of the power steering fluid and the coolant is different, so they can’t mix chemically with one another, as the coolant is a mixture of water with ethylene or propylene. On the other hand, the power steering fluid is a totally oily composition.

Hence when both fluids come in contact, the power steering fluid makes a separate layer over the coolant due to its oily composition. This layering results in the blockage of many small parts, such as the radiator or heater core.

When the entries and exits are blocked, there is no movement of coolant or no transfer of heat. Hence the coolant loses its function completely.

clogging in coolant due  to PSF mix
Source: Rx Mechanic

Does this Mistake Affect the Power Steering System Too?

Yes, of course. You are putting the steering fluid when you realize the low level of power steering fluid. And if you mistakenly put the power steering fluid in the coolant reservoir, your steering pump remains dry. And you feel difficulty in steering. The dry power steering pump also has a large number of consequences.

Steps to Rectify This Serious Situation:

To make the damage minimum, taking some steps at the right time is essential. I have faced this situation personally and resolved the problem myself.

So, I am here to guide you on what to do after this mistake. Follow the steps and get rid of this problem. Let’s solve the problem together.

1. Stop Driving Immediately :

As soon as you realize that after putting the power steering fluid in, your engine becomes hot, or you still feel difficulty steering, stop driving immediately. And check for your mistake. Examiner the level of fluid in both containers and understand the situation.

When you are sure that you have made the mistake of putting the steering fluid in the coolant reservoir, you unfollow the next step. Otherwise, contact the mechanic in a timely manner.

2. Drain the Contaminated Fluid and Flush the Coolant Reservoir:

After confirmation that you put the power steering fluid in the coolant reservoir, then drain the contaminated fluid(steering fluid mixed with coolant) from the reservoir.

Then to remove the remains of the steering fluid, flush the coolant system with clean water. Some coolant cleaners are also available in the market. You can also use them to clean the coolant system.

flush the coolant reservoir
Source: Car and Classic

3. Refill the Coolant Reservoir With Fresh Antifreeze (coolant):

After proper cleaning:

  1. Put the coolant in the reservoir.
  2. Be conscious about choosing the right coolant for your car.
  3. Check the proper function of the car. If there is any damage, kindly contact your mechanic because if there is another problem, it can only be inspected by the mechanic physically.

But if there is no issue behind this mistake, you can definitely solve your problem by my guidelines.

But not wind up here also check the level of the power steering fluid. If it is low, also fill the power steering fluid to avoid power steering malfunctioning. Now the whole situation is under control, go and enjoy your ride.

Preventive Measures :

By adding some preventive measures to your daily routine, you can get rid of such small mistakes. So take these preventive measures while changing the fluid.

  • Double-check the label of the fluid container before pouring the fluid.
  • Get familiarity with different colors and signs on each fluid container.
  • Use different funnels for each container to avoid contamination.
  • Regularly check the fluid levels to remember different containers to pour different fluids.


Putting the power steering fluid in the cooler reservoir affects the working of the coolant reservoir and damages the component as well. Make your engine hotter and make your driving difficult as well.

Remove the contaminated fluid from the reservoir. Flush it with simple water to refill it with fresh coolant. Moreover, take some preventive measures to avoid such mistakes.

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