Power Steering Fluid
September 15, 2004 4:14 PM   Subscribe

AutoFilter (1995 Nissan Sentra): I need to refill my power steering fluid. My manual (which has been known to be misleading before) says to use "Dexron-II power steering fluid or equivalent." Lady behind the Autozone counter says there's no such thing, because Dexron only makes transmission fluid. She says transmission fluid and power steering fluid are interchangeable "for some cars"; guy behind me in line freaks out and says I'll destroy my power steering if I do.

I just want to know which bottle of stuff to spend a couple of bucks on so I quit hearing that creaking sound when I turn. My trusty mechanic Rich is on vacation, so I turn (heh) to you, good Mefites, in his stead!
posted by scody to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total)
 
We just went through this! We have a Honda Accord which requires specific fluid. The guy at our auto parts store said that on some cars, because of the type of rubber that is used in the power steering fluid system, using standard fluid will eat away at the seals and is a big no-no. Here's some pictures of how to do it and what the fluid looks like. According to these guys your fluid just needs to be Dexron or Dexron compatible. [also, make sure it's not the belts]
posted by jessamyn at 4:34 PM on September 15, 2004


I had a '91 Sentra that started leaking power steering fluid; this very same issue confused the hell out of me at the time. Go ahead and use the transmission fluid: you should be safe so long as it says "Dexron-II". I wish I could tell you exactly what I used, but the car has since gone away (Dead transmission at 90,000 miles! Those bastards!), as have all the bottles of car miscelleny I had stored in the trunk.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:37 PM on September 15, 2004


Dexron ATF could well be what your power steering requires.

If you want to make double-plus sure:

1. Call your nearest dealer, and ask the parts department, or,
2. Siphon or otherwise remove an existing sample of your fluid. If the sample is red, ATF will work fine. If it's clear(ish), do not add ATF, and have a bonded and insured shop do it for you.
posted by Kwantsar at 6:49 PM on September 15, 2004


I can't comment upon your specific situation, but yes, I have heard of ATF being used in power steering systems.

I'll echo Kwantsar's recommendations if you're still uncertain.
posted by pmurray63 at 9:02 PM on September 15, 2004


Dexron ATF was used in both the transmission and power-steering systems in my '86, '87, and '92 Nissan Stanzas, if I recall correctly.

But you could always drop a line to the guys at Car Talk, or see if you can track down a service manual somewhere, or ask a reliable imports mechanic.

Do not trust the lady behind the Autozone counter, nor should you trust random people behind you in line.
posted by Vidiot at 10:44 PM on September 15, 2004


Squeeking/squeeling when you turn could also be your power steering pump belt. It may need to be tightened (if it's new-ish), or replaced. Check the fluid level on the filler cap dipstick before adding any more.
posted by bizwank at 11:04 PM on September 15, 2004


Bizwank: Yeah, I've definitely checked the fluid level itself -- it's really low. So I'm going to try that first before getting anything else checked out. The sound isn't really a squeaking or squealing -- it's more of a low, very faint creaking sound.

Vidiot: Do not trust the lady behind the Autozone counter, nor should you trust random people behind you in line. Exactly. Hence my appeals to my fine fellow Mefites, since my mechanic's in Hawaii! :) And thanks to everyone for their feedback -- it doesn't sound like it's quite so kooky after all for ATF to be the fluid of choice for a Nissan. I'll confirm with the parts dept. at a dealer in the morning.
posted by scody at 11:15 PM on September 15, 2004


I have a 92 sentra that has been leaking steering fluid for the past year or so. I have to refill about once every 3 weeks or I start to get grinding.

I've never bothered to see what I was suppose to use. I just select the cheapest available where ever I happen to be shopping. No problems.
posted by justgary at 2:18 AM on September 16, 2004


haha.

The guy at our auto parts store said that on some cars, because of the type of rubber that is used in the power steering fluid system, using standard fluid will eat away at the seals and is a big no-no.

then:

I have a 92 sentra that has been leaking steering fluid for the past year or so. I have to refill about once every 3 weeks or I start to get grinding.

I've never bothered to see what I was suppose to use. I just select the cheapest available where ever I happen to be shopping. No problems.

posted by angry modem at 3:04 AM on September 16, 2004


15 seconds on google turned up this link to Phillips66 lubricant division.

I suggest calling their customer service number, 1-800-822-6457 and asking for advice. The link notes that Dexron III/Mercon ATF can be used whereever Dexron II is called for, including transmissions and "some power steering systems."
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:11 AM on September 16, 2004


Heck, I bet your owner's manual has this information...you might not even have to track down a service manual. Check the glove compartment.
posted by Vidiot at 9:25 AM on September 16, 2004


Owners manual =/= service manual
posted by grateful at 10:58 AM on September 16, 2004


Heck, I bet your owner's manual has this information...you might not even have to track down a service manual. Check the glove compartment.

Thanks for the sarcasm! (Or possibly your utterly sincere assumption that I'm too stupid to look at the manual!) It's the most helpful part of this thread, truly. As you might have noticed from my original post, my owner's manual specifically states "Dexron-II power steering fluid." When I went to buy said fluid, I was told that Dexron doesn't make power steering fluid, only ATF -- hence my confusion: was it a misleading bit of info in my manual, or a person at the Autozone who was misleading me? There was a bit of contradiction between those two pieces of information I had already sought out, you see, and I came here trying to shed some light on the issue. But thanks again for pointing me to my glove compartment. I found my spare sunglasses in there.
posted by scody at 11:08 AM on September 16, 2004


Oop, sorry, scody. I missed that you saw that in your manual -- for some reason I was thinking you saw that on the fluid reservoir, and upon re-reading that clearly wasn't the case. No snarkiness, sarcasm, or assumptions of stupidity were meant, and I apologize for the way I came across.

Glad you found your sunglasses though.
posted by Vidiot at 11:16 AM on September 16, 2004


Me too... they're much cooler than my usual sunglasses, so I was glad to have 'em as I was zooming down the street blasting The Ramones this morning!

And sorry if I came off a little tetchy there, myself. Possibly I need to listen to something else other than "Beat on the Brat" to get out of this mood...
posted by scody at 11:32 AM on September 16, 2004


Don't put it in itll destroy your car
posted by Keyser Soze at 9:34 PM on September 16, 2004


Ok, owners manual DOES NOT more or less equal the service manual. Ask a dealership, tell them you bought it from them. Yes, thats right, lie to them.
posted by Keyser Soze at 9:36 PM on September 16, 2004


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