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How to Change the Power Steering Fluid in a RAV4

by Heather Finch

The Toyota RAV4 comes equipped with power steering, which needs fluid to function properly. For the most part you do not need to change this fluid; the reservoir can simply be filled as power steering fluid is lost. If you do need to change the power steering fluid on your RAV4 you should know the basics about car mechanics to ensure no damage is done to the power steering system.


Park the car with the wheels facing forward (not turned). Turn off the car and detach the cable on the negative battery terminal. You may need to use the wrench to loosen the bolt.


Insert a large syringe into the power steering fluid reservoir and suck out as much of the fluid as you can.


Unplug the electrical connector, and unscrew the pressure line-to-pump union bolt. Detach the line and let it drain. Reattach the line, making sure the sealing washers are in place.


Detach the return hose; let it drain and reattach it.


Plug the electrical connector back in. Fill the fluid reservoir with power steering fluid. Toyota recommends using Dexron III. Check that the fluid has reached the “cold” mark.


Start your RAV4. Let it idle and check the fluid again, adding more if necessary to reach the cold mark.


Turn the steering wheel to the left and then to the right. You need to turn the wheel most of the way without turning it to the point it to the stop point.


Let the vehicle idle for 4 to 5 minutes and turn it off.


Test your RAV4 by driving it in a safe place free from traffic, making sure the steering system functions the way it should.


Check the fluid level once more to make sure it is on the "Hot" mark after driving.


  • Instructions based on the Haynes guide for RAV4 manufactured between 2000 and 2003.


  • Only perform this maintenance if you are sure it is necessary and are familiar with automobile mechanics.
  • Disconnect the battery before starting repair to avoid being shocked.

Items you will need


About the Author

Heather Finch has been a freelance writer since the turn of the 21st century. Her official career began during her freshman year of college writing editorials about anything from manners to politics. Writings by Finch have appeared in the Western Herald, the Sturgis Journal and She has a bachelor's degree in creative writing and environmental studies.

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