Flushing the power steering system on most vehicles is pretty straight forward. There are DIYs for other models and I think it's time for one here. The rack on my 2002 Camry was starting to leak on the passenger side, expected after 158K miles. On this model, Toyota filled the P/S system with Dexron ATF. Yes, automatic transmission fluid; just without the red dye and smell. The original fluid was dark and was time to change. After a little research, this service shouldn't take long to complete.
Materials and Tools:
½” rubber hose
2 qt. Dexron III ATF (or what the P/S system requied)
Container for old fluid
Car Jack and Jack Stands
Use this guide at your own risk. I nor TN assume no responsibility for any damage to your vehicle or personal injury as a result of following this guide. Any suggestion to improve the procedure will be gratefully received and incorporated where possible.
After hours of researching on other Toyota forums, it is highly NOT recommended to use generic power steering fluid in a system that requires Dexron III ATF. Even thou the color of the generic fluid and store brought power steering fluid is the same light amber, the chemical make-up is different and is known to cause seals to leak and pumps to fail. Most Toyota dealerships do sell there own P/S fluid which is nothing more than Dexron III without the dye and smell. One reason why the colors are different even thou the fluid is the same is to detect leaks easier between the P/S system and the transmission.
First, open the reservoir and siphon as much of the fluid out from it.
Use pliers for spring clamps or screwdriver for screw clamp to remove the return hose. This hose is higher than the outlet hose. (Removing the coolant overflow tank helps with space on the Gen 5)
Here’s how dark the factory filled power steering fluid is.
Here a little diagram of how I set up the hoses to flush the system.
Insert the ½” hose into the return line and run it into a deposable container. Then, plug the reservoir inlet. (In this case I used some small tube to plug it and an old coolant hose to drain the fluid)
To make it easier to cycle the steering rack, set the parking brakes, jack up both front tires off the ground and set them on jack stands.
After the wheels are off the ground, fill the reservoir with new ATF and slowly turn the steering wheel from lock to lock. Ignition may need to be in ON position but DON’T START THE ENGINE
. As the wheels are turned, the rack will slowly pump out the old fluid and the new fluid is drawn. Kepp the reservoir full because if air enters the system, it would be nightmare. It is easier to have another person turn the wheel as you keep the reservoir full and watch until the old fluid exiting is clear and red. I could have got by with a quart but I did two quarts to be safe.
After the system is flushed with fresh ATF, reinstall everything back and top of the reservoir. Start the engine and cycle the steering system. Shut it down, check the level in the reservoir and top off if necessary. Lower the vehicle and clean up. Dispose of the old fluid properly. (Note: It's water that's spray on the engine bay)
Took about two hours or so while taking pictures and learning on the way. I could have completed this in an hour. I used Valvoline Maxlife Dex/Merc ATF to help with the small leak on the rack and I’ll track to see if it works. Steering feels normal without any werid noise. Total cost was $12 for two quarts of Maxlife ATF and I scrap together the hoses and cups.