Dirty power steering fluid

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Any experienced auto mechanics out there? I get my oil changed in my car at one of the "15 minute" places. The last two times a guy comes to me with a piece of paper with a drop of my power steering fluid and tells me the fluid is dirty and should be replaced . I have also seen the same thing done to others.
My question is " is the fact that the fluid is not clear and the same color as new fluid reason to change it?
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rec.auto.tech
sounds like a scam to me.

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No. Follow the instructions in your owner's manual. Most often, your car's fluids (other than oil) should _never_ be replaced - only topped when needed. In fact, changing fluids like this (especially transmission) can sometimes _cause_ harm because the viscosity of the new fluid may be susbtantially different than the fluid that's been in your car for xx,000 miles. Usually you only change when necessitated by a rebuild or repair.
Also, as a general rule you would be much better off changing your oil yourself even if only once a year and putting synthetic oil in your car, than letting one of those 15 minute places switch out your car's blood every three months.

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J T wrote:

Nonsense. I've changed and flushed my 97 T-bird transmission twice both times by necessity, (shudders).
Frank
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I didn't say it will cause harm, just that it could. Why do it against the manufacturer's recommendations, unless there's a reason to, e.g. repair or extreme conditions?

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Where did you come up with this BS?!! Clean fresh oil will never hurt anything! It may not be nessasary to change often, but it will never hurt anything, to change fluids often, other than your check book! As for the OP, if the oil is dirty, change it! Greg
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I am sure if you change all your car's oils every 10,000 miles or so you will have no problem. If the manufacturer recommends changing on whatever schedule, then do it.
However, if the oil (transmission or whatever) has been there for 100,000 miles, and you suddenly flush it out because you feel like it, it is completely intuitive that you are disrupting a system that is working fine. You may disturb large metal particles from where they've been lodged in the system, and there is likely wear on the gears that may actually depend on the fluid's viscosity at that point to continue to work well.
As an analogy, think about engine operation: over time, the rings wear on an older engine. When it was new, you probably put 10W30 into it. Over time, as it starts burning oil, you put heavier weight oil in because of larger gaps between moving parts caused by ring wear. At 180,000 miles, with no ring job, you're probably putting 20W50 in there. If you suddenly switched back to 10W30, you'd be burning a quart every week.
Well, the other systems are sealed and there's no combustion to burn oil - so you don't need to add any new fluid. But swapping out 100,000 mile old fluid that has likely got a much heaver viscosisty due to wear & debris over time from the system will likely have much the same effect.
All I am saying is, don't just change your fluid because the jiffy lube guy says it looks darker than new fluid and nothing is wrong.

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this analogy has nothing to do with preventative maintenance...your analogy is about putting a bandaid on a problem...
then you say :

key words "nothing is wrong"....this statement is exactly why your analogy above is invalid....but i do agree with this statement....no sense doing maintenance just because someone at a shop says to...but if you can't remember the last time it was done, maybe it does need it... ------------------- Chris Perdue "I'm ever so thankful for the Internet; it has allowed me to keep a finger in the pie and to make some small contribution to those younger who will carry the air-cooled legend forward" Jim Mais Feb. 2004
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No.. rather I am trying to show by example why changing very old fluid in a very old machine could be bad. Putting squeaky-clean new ATF into a transmission which has had the same fluid for 100,000 miles -- and is working fine -- will definitely change the characterstics of it's operation, since the new fluid will have very different viscosity. And probably not for the better.

The critical point I am trying to make here is the difference between "preventative maintenance" and "messing with a 100,000 mile old system". If the manufacturer says change the oil every 30,000 miles, then do it at least that often. But if the manufacturer says never change it (as most did, as of the mid 90's)- and you never did in the past -- you could very well be asking for trouble.
Anyway I hope we can both agree on one thing: do what your manual says, not what the jiffy lube guy says.
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LOL...JT i don't agree here, but i DO agree with what you have elaborated on in your post...i was strictly following the "regular/preventative" maintenance part...as far as that goes, most manufacturers stretch it out too far... ------------------- Chris Perdue "I'm ever so thankful for the Internet; it has allowed me to keep a finger in the pie and to make some small contribution to those younger who will carry the air-cooled legend forward" Jim Mais Feb. 2004
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That I will not buy! I have had trannys in my own autos where I knew the service records, that seemed to be working fine. Surprisingly the tranny worked better yet with a fluid and filter change. Again, do what ever you like, what ever you do won't cost me a dime! On the other hand, my cars get fluids changed on a regular basis. Greg
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<< Most often, your car's fluids (other than oil) should _never_ be replaced - only topped when needed. >>
Whoa there! Brake fluids should never be topped up. The lowering level of fluid is an indicator of your brake pad wear. When the pads are replaced, moving the pistons back into the calipers will push excess fluid from "topping up" out of the reservoir, making a general mess in that part of the car. That's one reason why pro mechanics detest the Whoopee Lube Palaces so much. A decent service shop will note pad thickness at each of your 15000 inspections, and you can monitor brake reservoir level easily to make sure you don't slide by the recommended pad change. Since that often happens at around 30000 miles or two years, that is a good time to change the brake fluid and likely recommended in your owner's manual. HTH
Joe
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Joe Bobst wrote:

fluid. How often do most people check that reservoir?? An indicator of brake wear is regular pulling of the wheels with a visual inspection! A low reservoir will indicate low brake wear, calipers or wheel cylinders leaking, or a master cylinder leaking. ( Case in point, current Dodge vehicles, say 1998 on up, use an "O" ring between the master and the booster. The only way to tell the master is leaking, is to "dip" the booster through the vacuum port. A design flaw Dodge doesn't want to seem to fix. I fear every time I see a Dodge product behind me as I know the general public doesn't know about inspecting this way and the Jiffy lube guy sure don't!!)
DO NOT push that fluid from the calipers back up top the master. Notice the discoloration?? That is dirt and particles in your fluid. Good idea to shove that stuff back up into a machined valve! "Pro" mechanics and those who do it right, will crack the bleeder on the caliper and squeeze the fluid out of that port! Not back up through the master! Then after assembly, add fluid to the master, bleed the extreme ports and new fluid will be in the whole system. Also, if you own a new Ford ( 03-04) F150, check the brakes more than 30,000 miles. I've found that front pads are only lasting 11,000 to 15,000. Not much, eh? Wonder if Ford will address this issue!
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not "wrong" completley....if your fluid is in between the high and low range then adding is NOT needed...BTW, if people don't check their reservoir, as you imply, does it matter? if they don't check their reservoir for "padwear indicated by fluid level", then what makes you think they will check it often enough to catch a low level due to a leak? ------------------- Chris Perdue "I'm ever so thankful for the Internet; it has allowed me to keep a finger in the pie and to make some small contribution to those younger who will carry the air-cooled legend forward" Jim Mais Feb. 2004
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Chris Perdue wrote:

regular maintenance intervals! I can agree with you on the "between the full and low" but I'd rather have it towards the full side for a margin of safety. If a rock flies up and breaks one of your rear lines ( or fronts ), at least there will be enough in the reservoir to keep the front ( or rear) system pumped up to get you to a safe stop without having to panic while using the e-brake. Besides, if you don't keep your rear brakes adjusted properly, that e-brake becomes ineffective and a panic stop is no time to find that out! Someone else made mention of "automatic brake adjustment", want to see some NTSB or DOT reports on "automatic brake adjusters" for trucks that weren't so automatic? Let's talk about the school bus in New Jersey that wouldn't stop. It all gets back to regular maintenance as recommended by the manufacturer.
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well having an open line will render the affected circuit useless, and that is why most reservoirs are devided to a point to allow separate operation in an emergency..

my favorite toys (carwise) never came with automatic adjusters, so i do make it a point to check even my more modern vehicles on occassion for proper adjustment of the drums....e-brake travel is a great indicator of when they need adjustment, or at minimum inspection
------------------- Chris Perdue "I'm ever so thankful for the Internet; it has allowed me to keep a finger in the pie and to make some small contribution to those younger who will carry the air-cooled legend forward" Jim Mais Feb. 2004
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Chris Perdue wrote:

Yup! Not a good feeling 1) having that pedal drop 'cause half your brake system is out and 2) relying on only one axle of braking to stop the vehicle. Especially if all you have is the rear half!

Yup!
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On 07 Oct 2004 16:59:53 EDT, Mark and Kim Smith

exactly. Brake fluid replacement is probably one of the most neglected things on cars these days. And people are surprised when their expensive abs parts fail due to corrosion. duh.

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it depends. yes it can be replaced, as long as you replace it with similar fluid (see the cap to see what kind to put in it), without harm. just because it's dirty doesn't mean it needs to be replaced. i try to replace the ps fluid in my vette every year or so, but i race it so the ps fluid gets extreme use.
you can suck most of it out with a turkey baster. put it in something that won't degrade (plastic) and take it to where they recycle oil.
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What does your owner's manual say? Fluid will break down over time, but it is not something that has to be done every oil change. They may be using what is close to "scare tactics" to make a few extra bucks. I'd go with what the manual says and no sooner. Ed
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