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Old 02-20-2017, 07:45 PM #1
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Power steering fluid level low. Do I use ATF or power steering fluid?

Was checking the fluid levels on my '01 today and noticed that the power steering fluid would not even register on the dip stick (I can visually see fluid in the reservoir though). The manual says to add ATF but it is the power steering fluid reservoir. What do I put in there? I am pretty new to maintaining vehicles. Anything special I have to put in there? Any special procedures or anything?
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Old 02-20-2017, 07:46 PM #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4flyer View Post
Was checking the fluid levels on my '01 today and noticed that the power steering fluid would not even register on the dip stick (I can visually see fluid in the reservoir though). The manual says to add ATF but it is the power steering fluid reservoir. What do I put in there? I am pretty new to maintaining vehicles. Anything special I have to put in there? Any special procedures or anything?
DexIII ATF is what you want
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Old 02-20-2017, 07:51 PM #3
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What do you do if the previous owner was putting power steering fluid instead of ATF fluid in the reservoir? How would you tell the difference? Also since its the PS system and not the transmission, is the cheap stuff adequate?

Sorry, read your post OP and suddenly had several questions come to mind.
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Old 02-20-2017, 07:56 PM #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian3676 View Post
DexIII ATF is what you want
Recommend a brand? I just texted the previous owner to see what he used (if he knows).
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Old 02-20-2017, 08:00 PM #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4flyer View Post
Recommend a brand? I just texted the previous owner to see what he used (if he knows).
I use the Valvoline max life in the 4qt wal mart jugs. Perfect refill level for a tranny pan drain....pull out the old in the reservoir...refill with new. Do that several times the first year....bam its replaced and your good for another 100k.
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Old 02-20-2017, 08:06 PM #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZionXIX View Post
What do you do if the previous owner was putting power steering fluid instead of ATF fluid in the reservoir? How would you tell the difference? Also since its the PS system and not the transmission, is the cheap stuff adequate?

Sorry, read your post OP and suddenly had several questions come to mind.
I'm actually wondering this too. It looks the PO of my 4Runner had the system worked on at one point since the fluid has been changed over to power steering. It's not a mix of the two and it's transparent with a slight yellow tint.

I've just left it alone with no issues but, I'm wondering if it's better to replace it with atf?
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Old 02-20-2017, 08:20 PM #7
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There are probably thousands of 4runners and tacoma out there with power steering fluid instead of atf. It does not seem to harm anything right away, but if toyota wants you to put atf in then do it! If you are concerned at all that it is compromised just flush out the system and replace with new atf. Siphon out the old stuff in the reservoir, fill it up with fresh atf, remove the return line and then cycle the steering from one side to the other till it comes out clean. There are some good write ups on this if you search
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Old 02-20-2017, 08:58 PM #8
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UPDATE: Talked to the previous owner and he never touched the PS fluid. Knowing that the first owner only had the 4runner dealer serviced, I am going to just top it off with Toyota Dex III and then monitor for leaks.
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Old 02-20-2017, 09:01 PM #9
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Though ATF and PSF in general are similar fluids, ATF has much more stringent requirements. It is a higher quality lubricant in general. PSF would probably "work" but i wouldn't use it for sure.

x2 on Valvoline Maxlife ATF for the power steering system.
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Old 02-20-2017, 09:11 PM #10
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Next weekend's to do list: Replace ps fluid with atf.
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Old 02-20-2017, 10:24 PM #11
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In the past, I've read many anecdotes on forums for older Toyota trucks and Land Cruisers that reported problems with P/S pumps that coincided with P/S fluid being substituted for the the required Dexron ATF.
Replacing the fluid is easy.
If you don't know it's history, why not start your ownership with fluids that you know the origin of?
I used the currently available product which is sold as "Dex Merc" under Valvoline and and other brands.
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Old 02-20-2017, 10:35 PM #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pluton View Post
In the past, I've read many anecdotes on forums for older Toyota trucks and Land Cruisers that reported problems with P/S pumps that coincided with P/S fluid being substituted for the the required Dexron ATF.
Replacing the fluid is easy.
If you don't know it's history, why not start your ownership with fluids that you know the origin of?
I used the currently available product which is sold as "Dex Merc" under Valvoline and and other brands.
Good point. While talking to the previous owner, he said that he never touched the PSF. He does know the original owner and he always got the 4Runner serviced at the dealer. Knowing that, I think I am just going to top it off with Toyota DexIII ATF. But knowing that the fluid is probably 10-15 years old, I think I will just replace it in the near future.
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Old 02-20-2017, 10:38 PM #13
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Bigger question is, where'd it go? Once topped off make sure it doesn't slowly disappear. May have more work to do then.


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Old 02-20-2017, 11:45 PM #14
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I use Valvoline Maxlife ATF in mine. Thats what Toyota recommends so thats what I run. I'm pretty OCD like that.

I know the old fords required ATF too, PS fluid would make the pump make a ton of noise.
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Old 02-21-2017, 12:00 AM #15
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Max -life ATF. And, as others have stated, just flush it. It's an easy job, takes 30-45 minutes start to finish. Raise the front wheels, remove low pressure return side hose and put it in a catch bottle, plug the return nipple on the reservoir, and then cycle the steering wheel slowly lock to lock (engine off) while keeping the reservoir topped off with new ATF. When fresh ATF comes out of the low pressure hose (will take almost 2 quarts), you have flushed out the bad stuff and you're almost finished. Button everything back up, put truck back on the ground, top off fluid to correct level.


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Last edited by BrianK14; 02-21-2017 at 04:18 PM. Reason: clarity
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