Quick Tech: Is A Power-Steering Cooler Necessary

One of the things I like to do is help our readers answer some tough questions. Every day, I get several inquiries that cover a myriad of options. The other day, I got one from a gentleman named John. He had what I thought was a simple question about the need for power-steering coolers. His very succinct question was, “should I be using one”?

Unfortunately, that question alone didn’t give many parameters that would need to be considered to make an informed decision. John did tell me, “my Camaro is mostly a street driver, but I have been known to enjoy some occasional “spirited” driving on twisty roads.” I was certain a definitive answer should not be hard to give, but I decided to reach out to the folks at Borgeson to get some answers. The reason I chose to speak someone at Borgeson for my research? Easy, this company has been building power-steering-system components for decades.

The benefits of a power-steering cooler on a race car are easily realized. But, did you know your street cruiser can also see the benefits of installing a cooler?

I directed the question to Jeff Grantmeyer, sales manager at Borgeson, and to my surprise, there really is no simple answer. “We typically see a big benefit when a power-steering cooler is used in conjunction with the conversion boxes we offer. This is because there is usually no space/airflow around the power steering hoses and box, and the fluid circuit is typically very short. We have had customers tell us they have seen fluid temperatures reduced by as much as 75 to 80 degrees by adding a power-steering cooler.”

power steering cooler

Mounting the cooler inappropriately can severely hinder its performance. Always make sure the cooler is not touching anything, as vibration can wear a hole in the cooler. Also, better airflow can occur if there is space between the cooler and the radiator.

The main benefit every enthusiast can take from that is, while a cooler might not be necessary for the typical Saturday-evening cruiser, the lowering of the fluid temps in the system a cooler can deliver, will inevitably reduce wear and tear on the pump and gearbox. it will also reduce the maintenance intervals of the system, as the pump, seals, and fluid will not be degraded as quickly from heat.

“A power-steering cooler is always beneficial, as it eliminates heat. This is the main contributor to power-steering system problems,” says Jeff. “Anything you can do to make the system run cooler will make all of the components last longer and perform more consistently. In general, power-steering coolers significantly reduce the temperature of the fluid by both increasing the system’s fluid capacity as well as the amount of time it takes for the fluid to return to the pump where it is pressurized and heated again. Of course, you also have the underlying benefit of a radiator to dissipate a lot of heat.”

I guess the best answer we can give for this question is, since John’s car is not one that repeatedly hits the autocross or consistently sees a lot of continuous turning, there might not be an underlying requirement for adding a power-steering cooler. However, if by adding a cooler to his car, which sounds like it will see a lot of cruising miles, the addition of the cooler will afford other benefits like the longevity of parts and fluid, which means less downtime for repairs. That in itself sounds like a big reason why adding a cooler to the steering system can be a big benefit.

power steering cooler

Borgeson’s heavy-duty power-steering cooler kit. Includes a 5 x 9 four-pass cooler, mounting kit, 6-feet of hose, 3/8-inch hose barbs, and hose clamps.

If you are like John and thinking a power-steering cooler might be a good idea for your hot rod, click here to find exactly what you need from Borgeson. Installation can be done in a day, and whether you spend a lot of time hard-charging into corners or simply enjoying a weekend cruise, the benefits will be noticeable.

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About the author

Randy Bolig

Randy Bolig has been working on cars and has been involved in the hobby ever since he bought his first car when he was only 14 years old. His passion for performance got him noticed by many locals, and he began helping them modify their vehicles.
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