What Happens If You Run Out Of Power Steering Fluid?

It is rare to end up with an empty power steering fluid, but many things could happen if you do. Thus, what happens if you run out of power steering fluid? First, driving with a low or no power steering fluid could damage parts of the steering system, like the pump. It could also cause turning the steering to be difficult as the wheel will become stiff. 

Once you have no steering fluid in the reservoir, know something is wrong. It is more likely that there is a leak in the system.

driving without power steering fluid

What Happens If You Run Out Of Power Steering Fluid?

Driving without power steering fluid could be dangerous and cause damage to the pump and other steering system parts. Many people think that the liquid only serves the purpose of lubricating the steering parts. It is not correct, and the power steering fluid serves a larger purpose in the hydraulic system.

The hydraulic fluid serves as a means to power the steering functions. When a steering command is given, the fluid is pressurized by a pump and driven from the engine to provide hydraulic pressure to the steering system. Whenever you turn the steering, the pressure is sent to the steering gear, which allows for the smooth movement of the wheel in response to the steering command.

When you have a power steering fluid empty, it becomes much more difficult for the steering system to perform. First of all, there will be no fluid for the pump to drive to the system, which causes the pump to get damaged. Also, other symptoms will begin to appear, which will be mentioned shortly. All these make driving difficult and sometimes impossible.

Why Is My Power Steering Fluid Empty?

A primary reason you have your power steering reservoir empty could be leaking power steering. Once you have a leak in power steering, it keeps becoming more extensive and leaks out all of the fluid until it is empty. It is why you must be observant of fluid leak on ground. Once you notice any fluid beneath your vehicle, try to find where the leak is coming from. It could be your power steering fluid.

There are some parts that it is common for a leak to happen with your steering. Some of these areas include the following.

1. Steering gear

2. Power steering pump

3. Seals and O-rings

4. Power steering lines

If you notice a low power steering fluid or an empty steering fluid reservoir, you need to check for leaks in these areas. Keep in mind, steering fluid does not evaporate, so there is a possibility of leaking. Once you can find the leaks in any of these areas, you need to get the part replaced immediately

What Does No Power Steering Feel Like?

When you have no power steering fluid in your vehicle, it comes with some symptoms that can be obvious, and you have to take it seriously. Some of these symptoms may include the following.

1. Whining noise when steering

One major function the power steering fluid does is lubricating the steering system parts. When the power steering fluid goes out or the steering wheel fluid leaks, the steering parts will not receive lubrication, and friction will increase in those parts. It will cause the parts to make loud whining sounds. The sound will be notified anytime you turn the steering. 

2. Difficulty in steering

One of the most apparent feelings you will get from driving a vehicle with no power steering fluid is difficulty moving the steering. The steering will become a lot stiffer because there is no fluid to help power it. Also, the steering parts will experience a lot more friction, contributing to the difficulty in steering.

3. Shrill steering sound

The shrill sound is one that no one wants to have because it could be alarming and can reduce the driving experience drastically. The noise might not come from the steering but from underneath the hood. Other leaking fluids could cause the problem to develop from the engine. However, if the sound happens when you move the steering, there is a problem.

Is It Safe To Drive Without Power Steering?

A large majority of driving safety depends on the steering condition of the vehicle. With this, your vehicle can have better handling, and you can steer out of danger at each point in time. With a steering wheel low on fluid, you will find it challenging to maneuver the vehicle during difficult situations.

low steering fluid issue YouTube

Also, when you drive without power steering fluid, your steering could become stiff, so you will need to exact a lot of strength to try and control your vehicle. Sometimes, you will not be able to turn the steering at all.

It would help if you had to fill your vehicle with the correct power steering fluid to avoid being in a difficult situation.

How Much Power Steering Fluid Do I Need?

Just like vehicles have different engine oil capacities, it is the same as the power steering fluid. The level of steering fluid your vehicle will require is determined by the vehicle you drive. You could consult your vehicle’s manual to get your vehicle’s specific fluid capacity.

Furthermore, there is another way you could get the specific level of power steering oil that you need to fill your vehicle with. Look at the steering fluid reservoir; there is a maximum and minimum filling level. You are required to fill the fluid in between both levels. It is enough for the proper functioning of the steering system. You can buy one liter of fluid for topping up but for changing, purchase two liters.

Ensure not to overfill the reservoir, as it could cause leaks and damage to the steering system.


You must ensure that you do not drive with a power steering leak on ground or an empty reservoir. It could be dangerous to damage vital parts of the steering system, which could cost a fortune to repair. Also, driving with an empty power steering fluid would be dangerous, as it would be difficult to control the vehicle, and you could lose control of the car.

Akindayini Temiloluwa

I am Akindayini Temiloluwa, an automotive expert writer and car enthusiast. I have over three years of experience in the automotive writing niche and have completed over 300 pieces of content from 50 projects. I have vast knowledge and skill in vehicle repairing, all mechanical work, car upgrades and maintenance. My goal as an automotive content writer is to simplify the most challenging concepts for my readers, help them self-diagnose what may be wrong with their vehicles and offer real value for their time.

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