I've been employed as a mechanic for 20 yrs. I've never had to "change"
power steering fluid except for a failed component where the whole
system drained. As others have said, follow your manual. The auto
engineers must have "some" insight as they have built and designed these
vehicles for years. How many vehicles has the jiffy lube guy designed
and built? Has he read your owners manual and pointed out the section
where it says to change the power steering fluid every 3000 miles? Your
fluid is a different color because it is doing it's job!
On 6 Oct 2004 12:13:55 -0700, email@example.com (p4o2) wrote:
Whether yours actually needs to be changed I do not know, but this is
an old, well-known scam at many of these places. Beware. Get a second
opinion from a qualified mechanic who can actually see the fluid and
This is why I feel it's a good idea to cultivate a good, trained local
independent mechanic by letting him do all or most of the work on your
(I'm no mechanic myself, but I am the sole financial support of a 1987
Mercedes 420 SEL and a 1989 Chrysler New Yorker).
First of all, how old is the vehicle? No fluid lasts forever.
Dirty means contamination, if it is REALLY dirty and old, replacing
it with fresh fluid is good thing. Same with tranny, radiator coolant,
differential fluid, you name it. It's your car you decide.
Ah, yes! That's how they sell things. At a recent lube job, the guy told
me my 25,000 mile car had never had the (self adjusting) brakes adjusted. I
asked him how much to see how gullible he thought me -- $45. Today, lubing
my 12,000 mile Mazda at another place, they showed me the air filter with
some barely discernable gray at the edges asking me if I wished to replace
it. A couple of years ago, I was shown my PCV, dirty with cigarette ashes,
suggesting it be replaced -- not hard to figure how it got dirty.
I've seen Jiffy Lube bring out a white paper towel with a smear of tan
transmission fluid that supposidly, and probably did, come from my
car, together with another of new red fluid. Then they tell you it
needs to be changed and they recommend changing it every 30,000 miles.
I agree with the posters who think this is done to generate revenue.
At the time I had this done to me, I had the GM shop manual for the
car. It said it was normal for transmission fluid to turn brown with
use, that it was not an indication that anything was wrong with it,
and that under average conditions, the fluid and filter should be
changed at 100K miles.
I have to disagree with those that say there is no harm in changing it
sooner. These lube places drop the pan in the process to put in a new
filter. Anytime you open up a closed system like that, you run the
risk of introducing contamination, ie pieces of gasket material, dirt,
etc, especially when it's done by employees of lube places, as opposed
to real mechanics. I've seen them use pliers to loosen nuts and once
they topped off my cooling system, which had the new 100K mile
anti-freeze, with regular. It wound up plugging the system in a new
car and later cost a couple hundred bucks to flush and fix at the
People also need to realise that the environment in a transmission is
totally different than in an engine. Oil is principally contaminated
by the byproducts of combustion in the engine. It's also exposed to
higher temperatures. That's why it needs to be changed frequently.
The conditions in a hydraulic system are very different. People have
referred in this thread to the tranny fluid being "dirty." As per GM,
just because the color of a fluid has changed, doesn't mean there is
dirt in it.
If you want to change it with some extra margin, like at 75K or so, I
think that's fine. Changing it and the filter more frequently is not
only wasting money, but IMO, actually making failure more likely, do
to introducing contamination in the process.
alot depends on driving habbits....an automatic transmission creates alot of
heat(that is why they all have a cooler) and the fluid is subjected to all the
heat...that is what turns the fluid "brown"...it becomes contaminated with
"dust" from the clutch packs wearing, and burned from overheating....automatic
transmission fluid is loaded with detergents because buildup of clutch material
would be fatal to the small passages and sealing surfaces in the valve
body....the filter catches the larger stuff, but the small stuff is left
suspended in the fluid, therefore the color of the fluid changes...so yes, the
fluid changing colors is "normal", that means it is doing its job...but its
also normal for people to not adhere to factory maintenance schedules(which are
a stretch/comprimise, because no one wants a "high maintenance"
vehicle)....wanna talk fluid abuse? when was the last time you changed your
"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"
Had the opposite happen once. I had a '78 Monte Carlo and the trans was not
shifting properly at times. I took it to a major chain for the free
estimate. They drained the fluid, dropped the pan and then gave me a $200+
estimate for repair. It would be $250 if I came back later. I told them no
thanks and they put the fluid back in with dire warnings of potential
It never missed a shift after that! I have no idea what the real problem
was or how just draining the fluid would fix anything, but I got rid of the
car 20,000 miles later and still working OK.
A client comes in with a trans slip or other problem. The first thing
I'm going to do is flush the trans. Out with the old oil, in with the
new with fresh detergent properties. Shifting problem went away??
Probably as less valves are getting gummed up and unstuck from old oil
that lost it's detergent properties! BTW, more times than not, that
flush will fix problems before I farm out a $1000 repair to a trans shop!
I have "saved" a failed transmission more than once with fresh fluid and a
You guys can do what you want! If my tranny fluid is brown, it is getting
changed! Clean fluid and a new filter never ruined a transmission!
(It never gets brown! I change it before it gets that color!)
A new auto-trans is expensive. I think it doesn't hurt at all to
replace the fluid more often, especially under severe duty.
IF you can do it yourself it is even cheaper. Granted, you won't get
the full flush and some old fluid will stay behind, but if you do it
more often (like every 25K ) that won't matter. And your transmission
WILL last longer. For more ease, add a drainplug to the pan so it's
even less effort to change it.
On 7 Oct 2004 04:32:56 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org (Chet Hayes)
It might be worthwhile to change out your power steering fluid every
100,000 miles or so. Emphasis on "might". The fluids that you should
really be more concerned about changing on a regular basis are the
motor oil, brake fluid, and antifreeze (and in that order; I do brake
fluid more often than antifreeze).
scott email@example.com (Childfree Scott) wrote in message
This fluid change post comes up in the car groups regularly and is
always debated needlessly. Myth is passed on from generation to
A lifetime of driving old cars and paying attention to others tells me
that those who make their vehicles and its components last the longest
chance their fluids the most.
I change PS fluid every year as well as brake fluid,transmission and
antifreeze. The differential is changed every few years. I never have
a driveline failure. Look in the car groups for those 250K-300K mile
Chevys. They are maintained.
The local car show here has a lady who was a currier putting on tons
of mileage. She was at the dealer every week for maintenance. When she
had 350,000 miles on her Dodge Neon she gave it to her sister who
continued to put more miles on it. All this maintenance can be wasted
if you plan on trading the vehicle right away or if there is a genetic
flaw in the vehicle. That's the risk you take, but maintenance is the
way to go for those who hope to keep their vehicles.
Ford products with power steering pumps that utilize type F transmission fluid
seem to be the only cars I come across that need power steering fluid changes.
In particular fox body based cars of the 1980's thru early 1990's and
Taurus/Sable variants. The fluid in these pumps turn solid black and the pumps
get very noisy once up over 70.000 miles.
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