It is not common knowledge that the power steering fluid should be changed with some regularity. Most cars never get the fluid changed, and those that live to high mileages tend to suffer leaky steering racks and pumps as a result. Modern mineral hydraulic fluid is synthetic, and is therefore longer lasting, but Karmakanix recommends long term fluid changes to save you from the long term expensive repairs. There is no set interval, since every driver and every car goes through a vastly different life. Lots of city driving involves lots of steering. Dusty roads get dirt in every fluid. Our technicians monitor your fluid level and quality, by looking at the fluid and smelling it. Old, nasty power steering fluid should be flushed completely. Expect power steering fluid changes every 60K in the worst cases, every 80K to 100K for most customers.
The Different Power Steering Fluids
You should not just go a parts store to buy power steering fluid unless you are positive it is correct. If you pour in the incorrect fluid, the odds are good that you will cause rack and/or pump leakage. At Karmakanix, we use Pentosin synthetic hydraulic fluid. Early Audi models except the Fox and 4000 also use the power steering fluid for hydraulic assist brakes. Here is a short list of the different models and the proper fluid for each.
Vanagons – all models: Automatic transmission fluid or ATF, Dexron II rating, red color. These models have a filter in the reservoir that should be changed.
Rabbits Pickups – Built in USA only, has rectangular headlights: power steering fluid, yellowish color. Older German Rabbits with round headlights use Dexron III ATF.
Golf, Jetta, Cabriolet and Passat – From 5/89 and later: Mineral Hydraulic oil, Part number G 004 000, greenish color, fondly called Goo Four Thousand. Earlier Golfs and Jettas (MARK II) use Dexron III ATF.
All Audis except early Fox and 4000 models: Mineral Hydraulic oil, Part number G 004 000, greenish color. Some earlier models have a filter screen that should be cleaned or changed. Earlier Fox and 4000s use Dexron III ATF.