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POWER STEERING FLUSH WALKTHROUGH

TIME:  30 minutes to an hour

Difficulty:  Easy

Materials:  Pliers to remove a hose clip, a funnel, ATF Mercon V, optional is a small pump to empty the reservoir.

WARNING: NEVER TURN YOUR STEERING WHEEL ALL THE WAY IN A SINGLE DIRECTION AND HOLD IT THERE FOR LONGER THAN 5 SECONDS.  THE POWER STEERING FLUID MAY HEAT UP DUE TO THE PUMP WORKING VERY HARD AND YOU MAY CAUSE PERMANENT DAMAGE TO YOUR POWER STEERING SYSTEM.

If you are worried you might get AIR into your steering system, well that's why you BLEED it at the end...  to remove the air bubbles.  It's quite easy.  However if you still don't want to risk it, then I suggest using a small siphon pump, sucking out the fluid in your reservoir (about 2-3 ounces of fluid), and then replenishing the fluid).  Repeat this process once a week for a few months and your power steering fluid may slowly be replenished.  :)
Well since not all of us want to do it the baby method I have another SAFE method for draining and re-filling your power steering fluid. 

Pictured to the left is me emptying my reservoir into a small water bottle.  Dispose of ATF fluid at your local recycler.  My local Kraagen autoparts store accepts used oil and atf fluid.

Locate your Electric (or non electric) power steering pump.  This is directly in front of the front right wheel well.  Those aluminum squares you see in the picture is sound damping material lining my wheel well.  I did that to quiet the rock pinging noises in my wheel wells but that's a different story...

Anyways locate the BLACK hose with the metal clip on it.  This is the suction hose. 

The long gold colored pipe that's bent like an upside down candy cane is the pressure pipe. 

There is only one hose with a clip down there so it's pretty obvious which hose to disconnect.  The big cylinder is the electric power steering pump.  Make sure the hose you disconnect is going to the power steering pump.  :)

Mercon V on your belt may cause slipping.  FOr this reason I use a generous amount of plastic wrap (or aluminum foil) to protect my alternator and belt from any splashes of ATF fluid.  Although it doesn't specify to do this in any of the technical manuals I have, I decided it would be a good idea because you never know if you fling fluid onto the belt... 

SAFETY FIRST..  Get your goggles on, and wear gloves.  :)

Use some pliers to move the clip off of the rubber hose.  Nothing to worry about here other than to not let the pliers slip and gouge you in the face.  You may have to ROTATE the clip before being able to get a good angle to clamp on it.  Make sure to take a good mental note where the clip is seated.  When you rein-stall the clip you want it in the SAME orientation and seat that it was originally.  I don't make this stuff up...  It's all from the technical manuals I read.
Slide the black hose off, and let the fluid DRAIN into a catch bucket.  I use one of those rubbermaid tubs.  I've marked it with lines so I know how much fluid goes into it.  After I catch all the fluid I transfer the fluid to a larger container that I take the recycler.
Next go into your car and put the key in the LOCK position.  If you've jacked the front of your car up like I did and put it on jack stands, then you'll be able to turn the steering wheel very easily in the next step.
Give your steering wheel a slow turn ALL The way left.  Then turn it all the way right.  You can repeat this  again if you please.  I would turn it at a rate of about 1 revolution per 3-4 seconds.  More fluid will come out and the steering wheel should turn quite easily.
Next step is to button up the car back to normal.  Wipe down all the parts with a clean rag and put the hose back on. 
Put the clip on, and slide it back into its original seat.
  1. Add fluid to your reservoir to the MAX line slowly.
  2. Then turn your steering wheel all the way to the right, and then all the way to the left, and back to center position.
  3. Go back and add more ATF fluid until it's at the MAX line again.

Repeat steps 2-3 a couple times more until you turn the steering wheel and the fluid level doesn't move.

Please note that this style of container should be turned the other way and poured so the opening is at the top.  I poured left handed showing the label for picture purposes.

The next step is to START the engine and let it idle.

Turn the steering wheel all the way tot he left and right several times back and forth.  Return it to center position and check the fluid level.  Repeat this until the fluid in the reservoir has no more bubbles and the fluid level ceases to drop.

Take your car for a test drive and do some U-turns to the left and to the right.

Notice your steering feels BUTTERY smooth like glass now!

Don't celebrate yet!

Check your fluid levels.  Did they drop?  IF so, add more fluid.  If not, then VICTORY!!!

I recommend checking your power steering fluid level after a couple days just to make sure it doesn't drop any more.

Now go back inside and look at your contaminated power steering fluid.  That stuff used to be BRIGHT RED and translucent from the factory.  Mine had some flakes of who knows what and was really opaque after 40,000 miles.

If your car has 30K miles on it and you havn't done so, I highly suggest a power steering flush.  Your steering components will thank you by functioning buttery smooth!

Chris

P.S.

If you are curious, the dealer can flush your power steering using a special machine.  They start your car and then power steering fluid will be at high pressures due to the power steering pump.  The machine connects and adds new fluid while at the same time it catches old fluid that comes out very fast. 

I strongly discourage people to turn their car on and idle to let your power steering pump push the old fluid out of your car.  Leave that to the dealer who has the special machine.

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Last modified: 03/24/10