Automotive

Is a Power Steering Flush really necessary?

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  • May 5th, 2010 1:04 pm
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Newbie
Apr 12, 2010
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Waterloo

Is a Power Steering Flush really necessary?

Took my car (2005 Pontiac Sunfire) to the dealership for an oil change. They told me that my car needs a power steering fluid flush. The car has about 90,000km on it and I've never had this done. I've read online that you should never need to flush it unless you've contaminated it with another fluid. Is this correct? Is it really necessary or am I just being scammed in to paying for an unneeded service?
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Oct 26, 2003
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sixcardkitty wrote:
May 3rd, 2010 2:14 pm
Took my car (2005 Pontiac Sunfire) to the dealership for an oil change. They told me that my car needs a power steering fluid flush. The car has about 90,000km on it and I've never had this done. I've read online that you should never need to flush it unless you've contaminated it with another fluid. Is this correct? Is it really necessary or am I just being scammed in to paying for an unneeded service?
The PS system are closed off but it's a good idea to look at the fluid and see there's any contaminates that might be picked up else where.

The easiest way to do it yourself (though not the most thorough way) is to use a good quality turkey baster and suck the old PS fluid out from the PS fluid reservoir and put new fluid in. Start your car and turn the wheels side to side and circulate the fluids a bit. Suck the PS fluid out again (it should be closer to the new fluid colour) and add more PS fluid. Keep doing it until the colour is close to the new fluid colour. I can't say this is a perfect method but it's easy to do and I think it does the job pretty well.
Member
Jun 4, 2008
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sixcardkitty wrote:
May 3rd, 2010 2:14 pm
Is it really necessary or am I just being scammed in to paying for an unneeded service?
IMO, it is unnessecesary, unless there is something wrong with it or you had some kind of catastrophic failure or something.
Deal Addict
Dec 27, 2007
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if there are particulates,grime, chunks and just very dirty, i do suggest getting it flushed. I am not quite sure how it would get dirty/chunks/etc as I do open it to check once or twice a year and always clean
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May 10, 2005
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sixcardkitty wrote:
May 3rd, 2010 2:14 pm
Took my car (2005 Pontiac Sunfire) to the dealership for an oil change. They told me that my car needs a power steering fluid flush. The car has about 90,000km on it and I've never had this done. I've read online that you should never need to flush it unless you've contaminated it with another fluid. Is this correct? Is it really necessary or am I just being scammed in to paying for an unneeded service?
In a word, no.
There has been this trend to suggest you flush all vital fluids, brakes, transmission, power steering etc by shops and dealerships, while manufacturers are espousing lifetime fluids. Contradictory in my opinion.
Unless it is recommended as a maintenance requirement in your owners manual, leave it alone.
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Nov 16, 2006
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Pete_Coach wrote:
May 3rd, 2010 3:13 pm
In a word, no.
There has been this trend to suggest you flush all vital fluids, brakes, transmission, power steering etc by shops and dealerships, while manufacturers are espousing lifetime fluids. Contradictory in my opinion.
Unless it is recommended as a maintenance requirement in your owners manual, leave it alone.
the brake fluid for VWs is to be replaced every two years. this is in the manual and confirmed by my VW mechanic (non-dealer). apparently the brake fluid gets contaminated with moisture because of temperature changes or something.
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comicbookguy wrote:
May 3rd, 2010 3:30 pm
the brake fluid for VWs is to be replaced every two years. this is in the manual and confirmed by my VW mechanic (non-dealer). apparently the brake fluid gets contaminated with moisture because of temperature changes or something.
As always.....If it is in the owners manual then do it.
Actually, with the newer brake fluids, they are not as impervious to moisture ingress as before and should last longer, if not indefinitely but, that will be in the future.
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Mar 5, 2006
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comicbookguy wrote:
May 3rd, 2010 3:30 pm
the brake fluid for VWs is to be replaced every two years. this is in the manual and confirmed by my VW mechanic (non-dealer). apparently the brake fluid gets contaminated with moisture because of temperature changes or something.
for brake fluid, every car should have it flushed every 2 years as it's hydrogrosic, it sucks moisture. keeping it in the brake lines too long will rust out your brake lines.
Deal Guru
Aug 2, 2001
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I'm not sure if the power steering fluid itself degrades over times, however I do know that there may be parts inside your power steering system that do (O-rings for example). If these parts degrade the fluid becomes dirty. This dirty fluid risks clogging up/hampering the efficiency of the power steering system.


Now, whether a modern power steering system has parts inside that degrade (or rust) I don't know. However, this is most likely the concept behind getting your power steering flushed, and why with much older vehicles it was something to definitely consider.
Newbie
Jul 22, 2009
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I would change it every 2-3 years regardless of what the owner's manual says

In the age of 'free maintenance', you really can't trust the owner's manual these days with their invention of "lifetime fluids"... NO FLUID is lifetime
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_AUC2MIC wrote:
May 4th, 2010 2:36 pm
I would change it every 2-3 years regardless of what the owner's manual says

In the age of 'free maintenance', you really can't trust the owner's manual these days with their invention of "lifetime fluids"... NO FLUID is lifetime
Why? Engineering results? Engineering analysis? An educated guess? Empirical evidence? Rectal pluck?
It is nice to say these things and follow whatever path you personally choose but, if advising people, you really need to have some facts and back yourself up with evidence.
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Jul 22, 2009
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Pete_Coach wrote:
May 4th, 2010 6:22 pm
Why? Engineering results? Engineering analysis? An educated guess? Empirical evidence? Rectal pluck?
It is nice to say these things and follow whatever path you personally choose but, if advising people, you really need to have some facts and back yourself up with evidence.
I have the most experience with BMW's so I'll use them as an example...every since they introduced 'free maintenance", many regular maintenance intervals were either pushed back or eliminated completely even though they are using the exam same fluids/parts (ie. same part numbers)

Before the free maintenance program, these were the recommendations from BMW:
automatic transmission fluid (ATF) and filter changes every 15,000 miles, manual gearbox and differential oil changes every 30,000 miles, annual brake fluid changes, and coolant changes every two years. Spark plugs, air filter, and fuel filters were typically replaced every 30,000 miles on most BMWs (this is a tune-up) except M cars up to 1995, which got new spark plugs and a valve adjustment every 15,000.

Magically, when BMW started offering free maintenance, the 1,200-mile break-in service was done away with except for M cars. Engine oil suddenly lasts 15,000 miles (dealers are supposed to use BMW synthetic oil). Manual gearbox and differential oil? No worries there – now BMW says they NEVER need to be changed, it’s “lifetime fill.” (anyone here who has changed their own fluids should know there is NO such thing as a lifetime fluid) Brake fluid and coolant service intervals were doubled with no change in the original BMW brake fluid and anti-freeze dealers are supposed to use.
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Aug 6, 2005
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Engineering and marketing sometimes disagree with each other. These days every manufacturer is fighting the other to offer the car that requires the least amount of maintenance so they can market it on the showroom floor. Further the Germans are including the maintenance for the first three years or whatever into the cost of some of their cars, the less maintenance "needed", the nicer their bottom line. Short term, obviously the car will be fine, long term is a question mark however. I've seen some of GM's lifetime coolant come out pretty much like sludge after a couple hundred thousand km's.

Honda for instance, made the mistake of moving their cars to 96k km from 48k km for the first transmission fluid change a while back. End result was a lot of transmission failures, the transmissions were weak to begin with, but the extra fluid interval definitely did not help matters. They have since moved back down to ~60-70k km on their current maintenance minder cars. Same thing for Honda motors when they moved from 6k km oil change interval to 8k km, nothing catastrophic but things like oil burning and cam noise is definitely not helped.

So yes, definitely follow the owner's manual on the upper limit, but also keep in mind reasonable mileage limitations

Pete_Coach wrote:
May 4th, 2010 6:22 pm
Why? Engineering results? Engineering analysis? An educated guess? Empirical evidence? Rectal pluck?
It is nice to say these things and follow whatever path you personally choose but, if advising people, you really need to have some facts and back yourself up with evidence.
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Jul 22, 2009
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bunga wrote:
May 4th, 2010 7:18 pm
Engineering and marketing sometimes disagree with each other. These days every manufacturer is fighting the other to offer the car that requires the least amount of maintenance so they can market it on the showroom floor. Further the Germans are including the maintenance for the first three years or whatever into the cost of some of their cars, the less maintenance "needed", the nicer their bottom line. Short term, obviously the car will be fine, long term is a question mark however. I've seen some of GM's lifetime coolant come out pretty much like sludge after a couple hundred thousand km's.

Honda for instance, made the mistake of moving their cars to 96k km from 48k km for the first transmission fluid change a while back. End result was a lot of transmission failures, the transmissions were weak to begin with, but the extra fluid interval definitely did not help matters. They have since moved back down to ~60-70k km on their current maintenance minder cars. Same thing for Honda motors when they moved from 6k km oil change interval to 8k km, nothing catastrophic but things like oil burning and cam noise is definitely not helped.

So yes, definitely follow the owner's manual on the upper limit, but also keep in mind reasonable mileage limitations
Yup, with their new service intervals, these cars are guaranteed to last at least until the warranty is up... 5-10 years after that, who knows

I definitely would never wait 15-20,000 km for an oil change, synthetic or not, regardless of what the 'manual' says
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Sep 5, 2002
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_AUC2MIC wrote:
May 4th, 2010 7:01 pm
I have the most experience with BMW's so I'll use them as an example...every since they introduced 'free maintenance", many regular maintenance intervals were either pushed back or eliminated completely even though they are using the exam same fluids/parts (ie. same part numbers)

Before the free maintenance program, these were the recommendations from BMW:
automatic transmission fluid (ATF) and filter changes every 15,000 miles, manual gearbox and differential oil changes every 30,000 miles, annual brake fluid changes, and coolant changes every two years. Spark plugs, air filter, and fuel filters were typically replaced every 30,000 miles on most BMWs (this is a tune-up) except M cars up to 1995, which got new spark plugs and a valve adjustment every 15,000.

Magically, when BMW started offering free maintenance, the 1,200-mile break-in service was done away with except for M cars. Engine oil suddenly lasts 15,000 miles (dealers are supposed to use BMW synthetic oil). Manual gearbox and differential oil? No worries there – now BMW says they NEVER need to be changed, it’s “lifetime fill.” (anyone here who has changed their own fluids should know there is NO such thing as a lifetime fluid) Brake fluid and coolant service intervals were doubled with no change in the original BMW brake fluid and anti-freeze dealers are supposed to use.
Yes this is a good post I agree.

Is it 100% necessary to change it? No. But some people like to do preventative work, or change stuff before the period, like the owner of the Lexus with 290,000km someone bought on this forum.
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