What is this? Simply put, power-steering fluid is the hydraulic fluid that transmits the power in power steering. Servicing it involves draining or flushing out your car's old power-steering fluid and then adding fresh power steering fluid.
When is service recommended? Every 60,000 kms
How much is this service?: The fluid is the cheapest component of your power-steering system. Changing it can help to prolong the life of other, more expensive power-steering components such as the power-steering pump and the stratospherically expensive power-steering rack.
Why do I have to do this? Over time, the seals, O-rings and internal power-steering components will wear out. When they break apart, they contaminate the power-steering fluid, which forces the power-steering pump to work harder (having to pump little chunks instead of just fluid) and eventually break down.
What happens if I don't do this? You'll eventually chew up your power-steering pump. It'll have to be replaced at a cost of several hundred dollars, or you'll have no power steering — and you can't easily drive a car that's equipped with power steering when the power-steering system fails. You also may damage the rack, which will require you to take out a small home-equity loan to replace.
Car Care Tip: Check your power-steering fluid level and make sure you keep it topped up. Check for leaks and listen for whining or strange sounds when you are turning the steering wheel. This is signaling that your power steering system needs some attention.