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Old 02-28-2017, 01:19 PM   #1
LorneC
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2002 SL2
Roll Eyes Wrench Service Light + Brake Light Blunder

These lights suddenly came on 2 days ago so I parked the car in my driveway until I could read through this forum and figure out what was going on.

Came to the conclusion that the best course of action was to take a turkey baster, suck out as much fluid as possible and then refill with Dot 3.

Picked up my supplies last night and after using my cell phone light to check for low level, found it and decided to best tackle it this morning. Got up in the light, drained the fluid and refilled with Dot 3 and started the car. No change, both lights still on. Then I remember reading about lightly tapping the sensor with a screwdriver, but no matter how hard I looked, I couldn't find a sensor.

Suddenly it dawns on me that I've just topped up the power fluid reservoir with Dot 3 brake fluid.

Shut the car off, grabbed the turkey baster, sucked out as much fluid as possible, put fresh power steering back in. Also added the Dot 3 to the brake fluid reservoir and the lights are now off.

Questions:

Do I now need to completely drain the power steering fluid and if so how? Or by turkey basting the reservoir right away and refilling with the correct fluid am I ok?

NOTE: I did NOT turn the steering wheel or drive the car before re-draining and refilling the reservoir.

Thanks
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Old 03-01-2017, 09:13 AM   #2
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Default Re: Wrench Service Light + Brake Light Blunder

From google...

Do not put brake fluid in your power steering pump, it will destroy the pump.
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Old 03-01-2017, 11:47 AM   #3
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Default Re: Wrench Service Light + Brake Light Blunder

Well yeah, that's why I turned off the car immediately and tried to correct my mistake by using a turkey baster to suck out as much fluid as I could and then topped it up with the correct power steering fluid.

What I'm wondering/hoping is that by not turning the steering wheel, I didn't draw the Dot 3 through the system and was able to get most of it out with the baster.

However, I'm no fluids expert, so I don't know if Dot 3 is lighter than power steering fluid and stayed on top, if it was heavier and sank down or if it had similar density and blended. I'm sure I didn't get it all out in any case. But if it wasn't drawn through the system (or sank like a rock) the remaining Dot 3 amount should be relatively low as a %.

I won't have time to drain the system until the weekend, so do I need to park the car until then or will my attempted basting correction be sufficient until then?

Also, how do I now properly drain the power steering system?
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Old 03-01-2017, 02:59 PM   #4
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Default Re: Wrench Service Light + Brake Light Blunder

Two months ago, I did similar with my wife's Envoy XUV.
Only I realized it after she had driven like 50 miles.
I had a 12v suction pump that I sometimes use to evacuate automatic trans fluid and refill with fresh ATF.
I sucked/drained that out, kept turning the steering wheel from lock to lock, refill with ATF, turned wheels again and sucked it out.....took about 45 minutes until I was able to determine that the mineral oil (it's not really a petroleum based OIL) and topped off the reservoir.

Now, 2 months later, her car is still fine. No leaks, no steering box issues...and we have put on a couple thousand miles.... whew, got lucky.
Purchased the pump from walmart-online for like $15-20.

Edit: Envoy XUV has a tranny dipstick but actually very difficult to change tranny oil. Same with my old Dodge Dakota pickup.....bad positioning of the tranny pan....I only put on like 500 local miles a year on it but annually replace the tranny fluid (not what's left in the torque converter tho) and it renews the trans enough that I keep pushing that trans rebuild off for yet another year. Been needing a trans for like 8 years, and this method works.

Last edited by toggenburg; 03-01-2017 at 03:06 PM.
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Old 03-01-2017, 03:56 PM   #5
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Default Re: Wrench Service Light + Brake Light Blunder

Yeah that pump is a good idea, the turkey baster I used is hard plastic and doesn't go down the back of the reservoir. Can't seem to find anything similar to an oil pan plug, so draining doesn't appear to be an option.

I read through some more threads here on sucking out old, refilling with new and bleeding until the fluid in the reservoir goes clear (assuming new clear fluid is used).

I think I'll pick up a $5 siphon hose with bulb tonight and go through that cycle process for the next few days until the fluid cleans up. The car has 280,000+ kms but I don't want to kill it prematurely because of my stupidity.
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Old 03-01-2017, 04:16 PM   #6
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Default Re: Wrench Service Light + Brake Light Blunder

Easy way to drain the power steering setup is to pull off one of the low pressure hoses (lower the better, let gravity assist). Obviously the low pressure hose will only be held on with a hose clamp. Start up the car for a few seconds if needed to let the pump flush it out. Just don't let it run too long as you don't want to run it with the pump dry, and the entire system doesn't hold a whole lot of fluid to begin with so it won't take much to drain it. Power steering fluid is cheap, I'd flush it 3 or 4 times, refill and keep trucking.

Catching it as early as you did, I'd find to hard to believe you did any long term damage.
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Old 03-01-2017, 04:46 PM   #7
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Default Re: Wrench Service Light + Brake Light Blunder

With my track record I'd probably pull off a low pressure coolant hose instead.

Do you know where on the car I'd find the lowest low pressure hose for the power steering?
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Old 03-02-2017, 02:21 AM   #8
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Default Re: Wrench Service Light + Brake Light Blunder

It's hose clamped to the reservoir on the back/bottom side of the pump so as soon as you pull it off it empties out (on your head as you can really only access it from below...) and doesn't really let you flush it the way you could with a "top loader".

I'd go for the connection at the rack instead, it's below the brake master cylinder and can be quite interesting to get off.
18mm crowfoot flare nut wrench required, uber-tight and close quarters prevents the use of most any other wrench.
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Old 03-02-2017, 01:13 PM   #9
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Default Re: Wrench Service Light + Brake Light Blunder

I'm in the "it's probably going to be OK" camp, but if you still want to flush the PS some more, I would use the turkey-baster or the return line. Sometimes getting hydraulic fittings loose can cause new problems.

You haven't been using the baster for brake fluid now, have you? Contaminating the brake fluid with PS/ATF would be far more worrisome for me...
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Old 03-02-2017, 10:51 PM   #10
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Default Re: Wrench Service Light + Brake Light Blunder

Brake fluid looks pristine. No mixing of fluids. Nothing but Dot 3 in that system.

I'm not going to mess with hydraulic fittings to drain the power steering fluid, sounds too risky for my non-professional mechanic skill set. I bought a small diameter, flexible siphon hose with bulb today so I can now get down the back and bottom of the reservoir. I'm going to try the extract old/fill with new then bleed, rinse and repeat until clear method first. A quart of OEM power steering fluid is only around $10.
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