When you own a boat of any kind, you will ultimately face the reality of needing to perform both scheduled and nonscheduled maintenance. Thankfully, this does not need to be onerous. In fact, some may even consider them fun projects and look at them as an enjoyable part of the boat ownership experience. One such task is bleeding out the SeaStar steering fluid in your hydraulic steering system.
Bleeding SeaStar Steering Fluid
For this task, you will need to purchase some SeaStar steering fluid that meets Mil-Spec H-5606C standards. At HawkEye Marine, we recommend SeaStar/BayStar Fluid No. HA5430. In order to make the job a lot easier, we also recommend an adapter hose, such as this one: Sea Star No. HA5438. Next up, you will need a nail, thumbtack, or pushpin to make a small puncture. Finally, a shop rag will also come in handy.
Step 1: Thread the filler tube deeply into helm pump
Step 2: Thread the bottle of SeaStar steering fluid onto the filler tube
Step 3: Using the nail or thumbtack, poke a small hole into the bottom of the fluid bottle (Pro Tip – puncture the fluid bottle on the bottom SIDE, not at the very bottom of the bottle. Doing it on the side allows you to place the nail or tack back into the bottle and save and store a partially-full bottle without worrying about leaks.)
Step 4: Turn the SeaStar steering fluid bottle upside down (think of it like an IV bag)
CAUTION: Make certain that there is fluid in the filler tube at all times. Otherwise, if not, you will be putting air into the system which means that you would need to start the process over again.
Step 5: Turn the boat steering wheel hard to starboard side
Step 6: OPEN up the starboard side bleeder nipple that is located on the steering cylinder
Step 7: Turn the boat steering wheel to the port side, thus pumping air and fluid out of bleeder fitting
Step 8: When you see an air free stream, CLOSE the bleeder nipple
Step 9: Continue to turn the wheel to the PORT side until the boat engine comes hard over
Step 10: OPEN the Port side bleeder nipple which is located on the steering cylinder
Step 11: Turn the boat steering wheel to the starboard side, thus pumping air and steering fluid out of the bleeder fitting
Step 12: When you see an air free stream, CLOSE the bleeder nipple
By following the above instructions, you can ensure that you have properly bled the SeaStar hydraulic steering system free and clear. For added convenience, you can watch the following video to see exactly how it’s done.
When To Add Hydraulic Steering Fluid
You will know that it is time to drain and refill your hydraulic steering fluid if you turn the wheel of the boat, and it requires a more effort than it should or if it feels sloppy. These are both indicators that it is time to change the fluid.
As you can see, bleeding SeaStar steering fluid is not too difficult. This is a great DIY project that any boat owner can perform in a just a couple of hours or less.