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power steering fluid

133766 Views 57 Replies 25 Participants Last post by  jkowtko
just got back from the steelership and the mech said that my power steering fluid is dirty and that it would cost 120 cad to replace it.

now heres the story i went into that same dealership for my oil change 3 months prior to this and the mech did not say anything about changing the power steering fluid at that time. advance to now and all os a sudden my power steering fluid is dirty and i need to change it.

what gives i never had to chage the power steering fluid on any of my cars now at 80 000km on my sienna i need to chage it. something does not add up right.

However i do get power steering pump noise when the fluid is cold up here in canada let say from anywere from 5c and below i can hear my pump pushing the fluid until it get warmed up.
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Many thanks, JC! I am preparing my 06 Sienna XLE for Yellow stone trip next month. This is the first time I replaced the power steering fluid in this vehicle. I replaced all the fluid in the power steering reservoir and hope that will be lasting a while.
Check your power steering fluid reservoir cap. If it says "Use Dexron ATF", and the Valvoline PS fluid you bought doesn't say it's "Dexron II/III" compatible, then you may have the wrong fluid in there.

General PS fluids can be based on plain mineral oil, which (according to the Toyota Parts guys) will dry out the rubber seals in a PS system that requires Dexron ATF. The probably can take several weeks or months to develop, but as I see it's about three months since your last post ...
You have a 2004 Sienna? What does it say on the PS reservoir cap? I found three manuals for the 2004 model year ... all say to use Dexron II/III (Dexron ATF). I don't think clear/yellow fluid is Dexron ATF ... however the "dirty" fluid you took out (the left bottle in your pic I assume?) does appear to look more like Dexron ...

What does the label on the bottle the dealership sold you say?
It says "Dexron", so confirm with the Manual ... if the manual says "Dexron Type II or III then I would get rid of this clear stuff and get some Dexron II or III ... a lot of manufacturers make it (I bought Valvoline myself) ... and one quart is enough to flush out the whole system.

The reason I say this is because people (including myself) were able to stop boot leaks by changing from the clear stuff to the Dexron, so the difference in the fluids evidently relates to how it interacts with the rubber seals ... it seems that on occasion dealerships and auto shops are accidentally putting the wrong fluid in.

I had a similar issue with my Mercedes, for which there are also two fluids ... I think the indy put the wrong one in because my car developed a bad steering shudder, that I was able to eliminate over time by flushing with the correct fluid.

I also had something different but possibly connected, with the 2006 Toyota Matrix that we bought used for the kids' college car ... the PS fluid was also clear on this car when we bought it, but there was a gel like sludge at the bottom of the fluid reservoir ... I had to remove the reservoir completely from the car and it took about an hour to flush the sludge out with cleaners ... then put some fresh Dexron II/III and everything was fine from then on.

It's your car though ... this is only a suggestion ... :)
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What brand of Dexron III did you get? I've only heard of Dexron II/III or Dex/Merc to be a cherry red color.
If you are going to stay with that clear fluid then I suggest you check under the car every few weeks for the next several months to see if a steering rack leak develops ... that is the problem I and others have faced, that was corrected by using Dexron II/III ATF.
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What noise is the pump making? Can you post an audio file?

Regarding use of the clear fluid, just check under the rack boots every few weeks for the next several months to see if you start to develop a leak in the seals ... unfortunately it may be hard to detect at first because the fluid will seep into the boot ... but eventually it should start to look wet.
In the audio clip, I hear the high whine most of the time, and I also hear a lower whine around 0:53-54. I'm probably more interested in the lower whine as that sounds like bearing noise to me.

you can pinpoint the source of the noise better with one of those auto stethescopes, or just hold a screwdriver against the various components and you may be able to feel the vibration.

As for fluid -- if it's this stuff:
I would get it out of there as soon as you can. IMHO that is definitely not Dexron 3.

-- John
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Low noise -- when my Mercedes had the wrong fluid the system would shudder when under pressure, for example when turning the wheels when not moving. Turning the wheels when not moving puts extra hydraulic Load on the system, which amplifies any problems you have in the system. In my case the wrong fluid was swelling the rubber seals.

You could have the same issue.

Johnsen's does not look like Dexron 3. I would not trust the Toyota dealership ... I got conflicting recommendations from my dealership on the clear vs Dexron fluid, since they are both inexpensive fluids I am sticking with what is in the manual and on the reservoir cap vs what anyone tells me.

-- John
Fyi earlier this week I flushed the PS fluid again:

1. I used Valvoline Dex/Merc (Dexron-III) again ... the price went up to $10+tax this time around
2. Using a floor jack against the center engine crossmember I jacked up the car so the front wheels just cleared the ground.
3. To drain the reservoir initially, this time I did not bother using a syringe ... I just pulled the return hose carefully off the reservoir nipple and caught all fluid in a cup. I had a bunch of paper towels set underneath to catch drips. Not much dripping this way.
4. Clear tubing (7/16 OD?) from return hose into a quart sized exit container sitting in the engine bay.
5. As an easy alternative to plugging the reservoir return nipple, instead I attached a piece of clear tubing to the nipple and tilted it upward to raise the tubing above the top of the reservoir to keep the fluid level in the hose.
6. Key in ignition to first detent to release steering lock
7. Filled the reservoir to the top with fresh fluid
8. Turned wheel lock to lock once. That drained the reservoir completely and pumped the fluid through the system and into the exit container
9. Repeated Steps 7-8 a total of three times.
10. Reservoir is drained at this point, and I had about 1/4 bottle of fresh fluid left.
11. Removed clear tubings and reconnected the return hose to the reservoir.
11. Refilled reservoir to proper cold level.
12. Lowered jack, started engine and turned wheels lock to lock. Checked and topped off fluid level.

Interestingly the steering feels a bit firmer after the flush ... it was really easy, almost too easy, before with the old fluid. I think the feel has improved. Maybe the Valvoline fluid breaks down after a few years? Anyway it feels like it has improved a bit.

Sorry, no pics on this one ... I was in a hurry and forgot.

-- John
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