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Thread: Killing The Myth: ATF vs PS Fluid

  1. #1
    Formerly 89jdm7m
    Insidious Surmiser's Avatar
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    Default Killing The Myth: ATF vs PS Fluid

    In light of JJ's statement (and lack of input) on the usage of ATF and PS Fluid in the power steering system "I wish that myth would die" I intend on killing the myth myself (if at all possible) since he will not.

    I've done about as much reading as I can. Couldn't really find much scientific information, just word of mouth. From what I can tell people have been interchanging the two fluids in their power steering systems in all makes and models in blatant disregard of factory specifications.

    All I've managed to gather is that both are hydraulic fluids and that the additive packages are a bit different. Most people say that ATF will cause less wear, and should prolong the life of the pump in use.

    I'll continue to read into this topic, and welcome any input anyone may have. I'll also update the main post with any factual information that may come to light

    Scientific info:

    as stated in MSDS,
    major components of ATF: Solvent Refined, Hydrotreated Heavy Paraffinic Distillate
    major components of PS fluid: Distillates (Petrolium), Solvent-Refined Heavy Paraffinic; Baseoil
    Last edited by Insidious Surmiser; March 5th, 2013 at 01:07 AM.

  2. #2
    Formerly 89jdm7m
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    Default Re: Killing The Myth: ATF vs PS Fluid

    Apparently the "old timers" that worked on cars when I was ~4 yrs old say that NAPA auto parts would sell fluid labeled as such "Automatic Transmission And Power Steering Fluid"

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Killing The Myth: ATF vs PS Fluid

    ^ my old man raised me on the same notion lol

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Killing The Myth: ATF vs PS Fluid

    They are both hydraulic fluids, so running either one shouldn't be a big deal, in fact you could probably get away with running many different kinds of oils. One issue is that there may be certain requirements for different materials used in the system, such as rubber hoses or seals. Honestly though, Toyota specifies ATF, so why would you use anything else? If I remember correctly the "myth" you are referring to is the fact that power steering fluid used in a system that calls for ATF will completely destroy and wreak havoc on the system. I don't see how this is possible unless you mixed two types of fluids that really did not get along with one another.

    There is going to be speculation because nobody wants to or cares enough to investigate all the different requirements of all the different materials used in the specific system. Toyota did this already and recommends ATF, so that is what I use.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Killing The Myth: ATF vs PS Fluid

    I'm wondering why some people have gotten noise with PS fluid?


    Build Thread http://www.supramania.com/forums/showthread.php?t=65052


    I have a ps pump, light retractor relay and dark blue headlight covers for sale, pm me.

  6. #6
    Formerly 89jdm7m
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    Default Re: Killing The Myth: ATF vs PS Fluid

    yeah I've read cases where people have gotten away with using motor oil :-\ I'd simply rather stick with factory recommendation, and stay safe rather than sorry... besides, isn't ATF way cheaper than PS fluid?

  7. #7
    Formerly 89jdm7m
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    Default Re: Killing The Myth: ATF vs PS Fluid

    the only real issue I can see here is that oil does cause rubber to expand, so since oil is present in PS fluid but not ATF, I could see leaks developing as a result... as for the behavior of these two liquids under pressure, I haven't the least idea....

    The only thing I can really logically assume is that ATF was safe for use as PS fluid... but I cannot be 100% certain if PS fluid is safe for use in a system designed for ATF

  8. #8
    PACNW
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    Default Re: Killing The Myth: ATF vs PS Fluid

    A few years back my roommate put a bottle of power steering fluid (with no label) with the brake fluid on the shelf

    I grabbed it and filled my brake master cylinder with psf..... No good..... As I used My brakes they got tighter and tighter and within 5 miles were about completely locked up...

    Had my truck towed to a tire place and they informed me that "somebody" had put power steering fluid in my master cylinder and that all rubber parts in the system were toast and would need to be replaced...

    Now I took it home thoroughly flushed the system, replaced my master cylinder and everything was fine... But if psf is different from atf due to oil in the psf couldn't it essentially ruin the steering system like it did my brakes?

    Quote Originally Posted by 89jdm7m View Post
    the only real issue I can see here is that oil does cause rubber to expand, so since oil is present in PS fluid but not ATF,
    Last edited by jdmfreak; March 6th, 2013 at 09:57 AM.

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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Killing The Myth: ATF vs PS Fluid

    What exactly do you mean by ATF does not have oil? ATF is petroleum based. Also, the seals in a brake system are specifically engineered to be used with brake fluid, using anything besides a DOT approved brake fluid is a bad idea. If my system was ever contaminated with a petroleum fluid I wouldn't chance it...anything rubber in the system would be replaced including all the calipers.
    Last edited by CyFi6; March 6th, 2013 at 09:35 AM.

  10. #10
    PACNW
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    Default Re: Killing The Myth: ATF vs PS Fluid

    So the power steering system is designed for a petroleum product then the only thing that would make a difference between the two would be viscosity Right?

    Or would that not be a concern?

    Quote Originally Posted by Faye View Post
    that was my 69th post lol
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