You will need to replace the power steering fluid in your car or truck after every two years or 50,000 miles (whichever comes first).
In that case, you will need to properly dispose of the fluid. The fluid can be toxic to the environment, and can affect both plants and animals.
So you must follow specific steps when disposing of it or recycling it. This article covers those steps and offers other useful information on the subject.
Steps on How to Dispose of Power Steering Fluid
This guide provides steps on disposing of power steering fluid after you have already removed it from your vehicle. Therefore, it starts from the point where you must store it before disposal.
Step 1. Know the Effects the Power Steering Fluid Has on the Environment
Power steering fluid is a toxic substance. Therefore, you cannot empty it out in your household trash. You could put plant life, animals, and people at risk.
Thus, it’s crucial to know why you must take the right measures to dispose of power steering fluid. This way, you are more likely to follow every step and pose little to no risk to the environment.
Power Steering Fluid Can Harm Plants and Contaminate Waterways
Incorrect disposal of power steering fluid could harm plant life significantly. For example, hydraulic power steering fluid can kill turf grass.
Reseeded grass that grows in the spilled area may also die. That said, this may only occur if a lot of undiluted fluid is soaked into the soil.
Also, if the oil spills into water sources, aquatic life and animals that consume that water could get sick.
Power Steering Fluid is Flammable
One of the biggest concerns about power steering fluid is that it’s highly flammable. In addition to posing a risk of burning, it will release toxic gases if burned.
Therefore, this risk is greatest for sanitation workers.
Power Steering Fluid Can Be Toxic If Consumed
Animals that rummage through trash may get sick or worse if they consume any food items laced with this fluid. Pet owners will need to be extra careful with this fact.
Power Steering Fluid Can Potentially Harm Animals’ Skin
There’s a chance that power steering fluid can harm an animal’s skin after prolonged exposure.
Step 2. Acquire an Appropriate Storage Container
You must store the used power steering fluid as soon as you remove it from your vehicle. This way, you’ll ensure that you prevent the fluid from being exposed to the environment.
So, it’s best to buy the container before you remove the used fluid from your vehicle. Buy a sealable container. It can be metal or plastic.
Just make sure that it won’t leak if you move it around. You don’t want it to leak when transporting it.
In addition to that, it should have enough capacity to hold all of the used fluid. Most power steering systems have a capacity of 1 quart of fluid.
So, use that as a reference for how large your container should be.
Many recycling facilities won’t return the container when you hand over the used fluid. So, don’t spend too much money on buying a high-quality container. It should only have the necessary characteristics.
If you’re replacing the power steering fluid in your car with new fluid, you can use the new container. Just make sure that the container is resealable once opened.
You may have to determine this before you flush the fluid from your vehicle.
Step 3. Wear the Appropriate Safety Gear
Make sure that you wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) whenever handling vehicle fluids. Here’s what you will need.
Wear a Pair of Gloves
A pair of latex gloves is the best for handling power steering fluid. Using them will prevent any of it from getting directly onto your skin.
Working without gloves can harm your skin. It can also get under your fingernails. So, you could ingest some of it accidentally if you don’t wash your hands thoroughly.
Make sure that your gloves are tight against your skin. They will offer better mobility in that case than thicker, clunkier ones.
Wear a Pair of Safety Goggles
Wear a pair of safety goggles whenever you’re handing fluids in your car. The goggles should cover the top, bottom, and sides of your eyes.
This fluid can cause severe irritation if it gets into your eyes.
Goggles will also make sure you’re protected if you accidentally attempt to rub your eyes while working. If some of it still gets in your eyes, continue to splash clean water in your eyes for 15 minutes.
However, make sure to clean your hands before doing that.
Step 4. Transfer the Fluid into the Sealed Container
You can flush out the power steering fluid directly from your vehicle into the container. However, if that’s not possible, you can do it into a pan and transfer it into the container later.
You will need a small funnel to transfer the fluid. The funnel will ensure that you don’t spill any fluid. You can also place the container within a large pan if you’re concerned about spills.
Make sure that the container is completely clean. Any contaminants will prevent the fluid from being recycled. After that, pour the fluid gently into the container using the funnel.
The oil is viscous. So, it won’t flow into the container as easily as water would. After all of the fluid is in the container, seal it.
Step 5. Get in Touch with a Recycling Facility
Call up your nearest auto stores and ask the representative if they accept used power steering fluid. Auto Zone and other such stores accept these fluids.
If they do, ask them when they are available for delivery (or pick up in some cases). This way, you won’t have to make a trip there to find the store closed.
After that, ready the container for delivery. Stick a piece of paper onto the side of the container. Write in large lettering “used power steering fluid.”
Use a permanent marker so that the label doesn’t fade away. Labeling the container will prevent any mix-ups with storing and recycling. You can also use a strip of masking tape instead of using paper.
Make sure to label all used automotive fluids during disposal. It makes the process of recycling easier for the concerned facilities.
It’s usually a good idea to drop off the waste fluid as soon as you package it. However, if you cannot do that the same day, store it in an appropriate area.
Make sure that the container is in a space with no exposure to sunlight. It should also be kept away from any areas where a naked flame is used (the kitchen, for example).
The best options are your garage or shed. This way, pets and children also won’t be able to access the container.
Power Steering Disposal Methods You Must Avoid
As indicated above, recycling is the only effective disposal method for power steering fluid. So, here are some common disposal methods you should avoid.
Burning the Power Steering Fluid
Some people also recommend burning the used power steering fluid. However, that can be extremely dangerous.
As a flammable substance, its fire may become uncontrollable.
Therefore, you could pose a great risk to yourself and others around you. In addition to that, burning this fluid releases toxic gases. Therefore, you will harm the environment in the process.
Dumping It onto Asphalt
Throwing used power steering fluid on the asphalt can make that section of the road slippery. Therefore, vehicles or bikes could lose traction, and an accident could occur.
If it’s a part of the pavement, then a person could slip and fall. In addition to that, the oil could go into the sewers via the storm drains.
This contamination may have a negative effect on the environment.
Other Disposal Methods to Avoid
Here are a few incorrect disposal methods that should be noted.
- Throwing it in the household trash
- Burying it on your lawn or other pieces of land you own
- Dumping it in a waterway
- Draining it into your bathroom sink
An Important Safety Tip to Keep in Mind When Removing Used Power Steering Fluid from Your Vehicle
If you are removing the power steering fluid yourself, make sure to remove all jewelry from your hands and neck.
Bracelets, rings, necklaces, and large earrings can get caught in the machinery.
In some cases, the pieces of jewelry could get a part of your body stuck in the machinery. You could easily injure yourself or even lose a finger if you’re not careful.
Therefore, it’s paramount that you dress appropriately when working on your car or truck. You can also keep in mind to wear clothing that doesn’t hang loose or have loose buttons or tassels.
Last Few Words
Whenever you’re done handling power steering liquid, wash yourself thoroughly.
It’s possible that some of it may have gotten onto your body. So, washing it off with soap and water can prevent skin injury.
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