DIY: Power Steering Fluid Flush/Exchange - Toyota Nation Forum : Toyota Car and Truck Forums
Camry 5th & 6th Gen (2002-2006 & 2007-2011)/2nd Gen Solara (2004-2008) Toyota Camry Discussion for years 2002-2006 & 2007-2011, as well as Solara Discussion for years 2004-2008. Topics of discussion range from fuel economy, safety, modifications, performance all involving America's favorite family car, the Toyota Camry.

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post #1 of 39 Old 08-05-2011, 05:21 PM Thread Starter
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Lightbulb DIY: Power Steering Fluid Flush/Exchange

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:
Pliers/Screwdrivers
” rubber hose
2 qt. Dexron III ATF (or what the P/S system requied)
Container for old fluid
Car Jack and Jack Stands
Rug/Towels

Disclaimer
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.

Quick Notes:
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 ” 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.

"Yūko" 2001 Camry 5S-FE/A140E @ 130k
"Sandy" 2002 Camry 2AZ-FE/U241E @ 180k
"Chihaya" 2012 Camry 2AR-FE/U760E @ 80K

Last edited by Yuko; 11-01-2011 at 11:20 PM. Reason: spelling
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post #2 of 39 Old 08-06-2011, 02:09 PM
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This is the same thing I do except I use a hose barb connector between the return hose and a longer piece of hose used to catch the fluid in a bucket. I have also used the pump to pump the fluid off and air does cause a racket. Nice post. Looks like you may have sprayed some ATF around you engine compartment.Regards
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post #3 of 39 Old 08-06-2011, 09:56 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Donald E. George View Post
This is the same thing I do except I use a hose barb connector between the return hose and a longer piece of hose used to catch the fluid in a bucket. I have also used the pump to pump the fluid off and air does cause a racket. Nice post. Looks like you may have sprayed some ATF around you engine compartment.Regards
I spill P/S fluid before and tired to clean it off with degrease, which also removed the rustproofing on the strut tower. You can see the spot on the strut tower. I still spilled some ATF doing this but I wash it down with plain water this time.

"Yūko" 2001 Camry 5S-FE/A140E @ 130k
"Sandy" 2002 Camry 2AZ-FE/U241E @ 180k
"Chihaya" 2012 Camry 2AR-FE/U760E @ 80K
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post #4 of 39 Old 10-30-2011, 03:05 PM
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Yuko,
Excellent write-up!! I love the pictures. That really helps bring it all together for me!

A nice close-up picture of the return hose and clamps would be helpful.

Also, you mention putting a 1/2" hose into the return line - is that 1/2" O.D hose?

A rubber cap would be good for plugging the tube sticking out of the reservoir. Advance Auto Parts sells an assortment pack of rubber caps for $3 or so. They have a small size pack and a larger size pack. This would be in the larger size pack. I bought both a month ago to have on hand for this type of job.

I used this technique on a Chrysler 300M. It worked great! (Chrysler also uses ATF for their PSF - but ATF+4 versus Dexron II or III.)

You might want to spray off the engine compartment with a hot dishwashing liquid (DWL) solution and then rinse with warm water. The DWL should remove the ATF, whereas water alone won't. (A garden sprayer or even a spray bottle might work well for this.) If ATF eats rust-proofing, I worry that it will also eat your paint. FYI - you can buy a spray can of rust-proofing. I think Advance Auto Parts sells it. Order online and use one of their discount codes. (CCABIN usually works - you get $20 off of $50, $40 off or $100, and I think $10 off of $25 or $30. Just bundle with some other needs you have, then pick up at the store.)

Again - very nice write-up!!

Thanks, Ron
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post #5 of 39 Old 10-30-2011, 03:15 PM
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One more thought - on my Chrysler, I used the exit line from the PSF cooler on the front of the radiator. I did this while I had the bumper cover off (had to replace it). I spilled a little ATF when doing this, but it was easy to clean up.

Would that work for a Camry? Ours is a 2002, but we've only owned it since February. So I'm still getting up to speed on Camry maintenance/repairs.

Thanks, Ron
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post #6 of 39 Old 10-30-2011, 03:37 PM
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I just suck the fluid from the reservoir out and refill it, repeat each week X 3 and pretty much new fluid in there.
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post #7 of 39 Old 10-30-2011, 04:25 PM
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Nice writeup.

When removing the hose take care with the plastic reservoir barb. it can become brittle with age. The reservoir is expensive.

The cooler line return will work too, or any joint on the return (low pressure) line. Make sure the correct line is used!

For the small amount of fluid it takes, I'd use Mobil-1 ATF (Advance Auto's coupon can bring it down to about $5.6/qt depending on how much you spend there), or use Walmart's SuperTech Mercon-V over dino Dexron III fluids.

Siphon and refill the reservoir every year to help prolong the life of the pump and rack.
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post #8 of 39 Old 10-30-2011, 04:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnGD View Post
Nice writeup.

When removing the hose take care with the plastic reservoir barb. it can become brittle with age. The reservoir is expensive.

The cooler line return will work too, or any joint on the return (low pressure) line. Make sure the correct line is used!

For the small amount of fluid it takes, I'd use Mobil-1 ATF (Advance Auto's coupon can bring it down to about $5.6/qt depending on how much you spend there), or use Walmart's SuperTech Mercon-V over dino Dexron III fluids.

Siphon and refill the reservoir every year to help prolong the life of the pump and rack.
John,

Thanks for the tips!

Is "Mobil1 Dexron/Mercon Automatic Transmission Fluid" the fluid you mean? AAP has it for $9.99 a quart.

But I was thinking it would be less expensive to use the Valvoline MaxLife Synthetic ATF (T-IV, WS) that I saw in one of your posts. It comes in a gallon at AAP for $17.99.

Which would you use?

Thanks, Ron
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post #9 of 39 Old 10-30-2011, 05:11 PM
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Besides the boutique ATF fluids like Redline and Amsoil that many like, I tend to prefer what's in stores. The Mobil-1 ATF has recently been reformulated to serve only Dexron II/III type applications. So it's good for the PS system, but not in newer Fords specifying Mercon-V however.

http://www.mobiloil.com/USA-English/...hetic_ATF.aspx

The new Mercon-V formulation has been revised so it's now backward compatible with Mercon and other Dexron II/III type applications. That's why I also mentioned the cheaper Walmart SuperTech Mercon-V for those who don't have an Advance Auto nearby. Castrol Import Multi-vehicle ATF is also better than plain dino Dexron II/III.

As far as Valvoline MaxLife Dex/Merc goes, it's fine for the Aisin U-series transmissions (T-IV and WS applications). But it's thin like Dexron VI (6). Therefore I'm reluctant to recommend it in PS systems. I personally prefer a thicker ATF, such as the Mobil-1 or Mercon-V for the PS. That said, others have used it and say it's fine. So YMMV.

AAP has various %-off coupons, but it depends on the amount of purchase.
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post #10 of 39 Old 09-25-2012, 08:06 PM
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This is a great thread, thanks!! Just finished flushing the power steering for the first time with Mobil 1 Synthetic ATF. I used 2 quarts and the siphon effect worked. The steering feels silky smooth now with the synthetic oil.
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post #11 of 39 Old 09-25-2012, 09:17 PM
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It's amazing what new fluid can do. Not just the PS system, but brakes, transmission, and of course engine.

Do a siphon and refill every year and it should add life to your PS system.
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post #12 of 39 Old 09-25-2012, 09:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnGD View Post
It's amazing what new fluid can do. Not just the PS system, but brakes, transmission, and of course engine.

Do a siphon and refill every year and it should add life to your PS system.
Yup over the past year I've replaced all the fluids in the car besides the usual engine oil change which I always use mobile 1 synthetic. First a complete brake flush draining from every caliper until fresh fluid flowed when I did the front brakes. Then transmission drain/filter change and fill with dropping the pan to replace a leaky gasket. Then the engine coolant using radiator peacock valve and engine blocks drains. And then last but not least the power steering fluid with nice new Mobile Synthetic ATF oil!

Last edited by Rob4226; 09-25-2012 at 09:29 PM.
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post #13 of 39 Old 11-18-2012, 09:57 AM
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Does anyone know what the amount of fluid should be for a 96 corolla 1.8 dx for PS levels. I realise this is the camry thread, but you DIY sticky is the best I have seen. I misplaced my haynes manual.

The siphon is working but wow is it slow. Having never done this I am not sure how long to let it run. I would prefer to to just siphon and refill as I am not as tech as some of you here.

TIA

Dan
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post #14 of 39 Old 11-18-2012, 11:36 AM
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I only used 2 quarts of new fluid to flush and fill. The ps system capacity seems relatively small.
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post #15 of 39 Old 11-18-2012, 01:09 PM
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I only used 2 quarts of new fluid to flush and fill. The ps system capacity seems relatively small.
Ok that's what I thought. I have let it siphon now for some time and I am only getting 1-2 cups I would guesstimate based on what's at the bottom of my 2 liter soda bottle. The first drain came out black and now it's come out more like Maxlife Dex III trans which is what can be used for my Corolla. I actually have better luck with Maxlife than I do Toyota fluid as it has seal conditioners which have been good for my tranny because it has a small main seal leak which after 211k miles can't complain.
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