Flush Your Steering & Why You Should Use Proper Steering Fluid
Chase: A common cause of failure in the powering steering system is incorrect fluid.
John: And you know, in our day, we used to just put transmission fluid, you were good to go.
Chase: Speaking of fluids, we've got all different types here. What do we got?
John: Well, you still have the transmission. The Dexron/Mercon, but you know, that's mineral based. No matter what, I'm going to say it over and over again, Chase, use the manufacturer's specification what your vehicle calls for because a lot have synthetic today.
Chase: Why synthetic?
John: Well, synthetic flows better, it goes at lower temperatures, lubricates. It's going to create a lot of longevity on your pump. Your pump's just going to last longer. It's a good choice. But be careful with that as well. There's Asian, there's European. There's all different types of synthetics. Once again, use the manufacture's specification.
Chase: Now, these synthetics definitely going to have service intervals because there's a lot of additives put it into them. So servicing is very important. Speaking of service, I'm going to get all the tools we need to service our truck.
John: Yeah and there are additives in their like anti-foaming agents and things that break down over time. So it is important to flush the system. Now I can actually show you a cutaway of a pump right here. And this is cool because you have a pump that's cutaway, and you can see the tight clearances that are going on. This is a vane style pump. So what happens with centrifugal force, these vanes are going to fling out and as they fling out, they're going to get in this tight little clearance right here and that's what's going to make the pressure.
I mean, we're talking 1,500 pounds of pressure. That alone beating on the fluid is going to start to actually deteriorate it. Now, back in the older days, we had roller type pumps and there was a lot bigger clearances and maybe it wasn't important to flush the fluid as it is today. Especially with these vane style pumps. The clearances, the tolerances are tight. And you can see. Now we're going to flush our pickup truck and when we flush our pickup truck, we're going from the pump down. We don't have a remote reservoir.
Now, if you have a remote reservoir like these, you can actually see inside of there. They're pretty dirty. There are screens, there's some filters in there. So make sure you flush from the top down. We want to fill it and keep flushing out this stuff from the top down. We're going to pump it to the bottom all the way out and get it out of the system. Now, really cool. I actually took some fluid right out of the pickup truck. Not only looking at the difference... You can't smell it but I can and I'll tell you what, it doesn't smell very good as well.
But a real valid test is we can actually test it with test strips. I want to show you the metal content that's in here. It's actually unbelievable. What the test strips do, they check for metal content. That's going to start to deteriorate, the additives break down, especially if you're not using the right fluid. You're going to have corrosion. It's not going to be compatible with the seals. There's all kinds of issues going on. So I took an ounce of this and I put it in the cup with an ounce of water. That's what the strips asked for. And I can show you the strip right here.
I just pulled one out and you can see over here, it matches that color right there if there's no metal content, and the further we go over, it's going to have a lot of metal content. All the way over to this side. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to take this here and I'm going to stir it up. And when I stir it up... It tells you to mix the water with the fluid and then I'm going to come in here and I'm just going to kind of going back and forth in it. Let it soak. Now the cool part about this is you can see the metal that's in there.
Although it looks bad, it really is. So if I shake it off... Now, you're really supposed to wait two minutes but this truck's so bad, I don't even have to wait. And I can show you on the scale here. We start over here. Let me get it off of there so you can see it's actually... You can see it right there. Now, overtime it's going to get worse. So if I come all the way over, I mean we're talking... We're going 400. I imagine here in a minute or two we're going to be at 1,000 PPN, parts per notion in there. I mean, that's a lot.
So it's a lot of metal in the system and you have to get it out. So to get it out, we're going to flush this pickup truck right here, show you how to do it so you can keep your pump in tip top shape. Now you saw the old fluid that come out of the pickup truck and it was dirty. It's time to flush it. There's a couple methods that you could use. You can use a professional method, a flush machine like this. Now, this hooks up in series with the actual pump and it's going to put the new fluid in, let the old fluid come out. Does a phenomenal job.
But we're just going to do it manually. We're going to go ahead and disconnect the line and pump it right out of the system. And I'll show you how you can do it. It's very, very simple. Now, there's a couple methods also to get rid of the fluid that's already in the pump. Remember, that's dirty. We don't want that running around the system. So the majority of it we can get out, the better off we are. You can go down to the rack and pinion or the gearbox, disconnect the line and drain it that way. We chose just to take the cap off and use a little vacuum tool here where we actually suck the fluid out of it.
Just trying to get the majority of it out. You don't have to get every ounce of it out but I'm going to get the majority of the fluid out of the pump. When I get it out, I got a bucket down there. I'm just going to go ahead and drain it down in this bucket where we're actually going to pump the return line in a second and get rid of some of that old fluid so we're not pumping that through the system. We don't want to pump that fluid through the system. Now, next step is go ahead and take the pump...
I'm going to take the return line off. I don't want to take the pressure line off. I want to take the return line. That's usually the one that either has a clamp on it. It's not bolted in and it's usually not a steel line. Make sure you're on the return line. You don't want that high pressure spraying all over the place. You want to go for the return line. So I'm just going to come down. I'm going to grab the return line. There's a little clamp here. I'm going to squeeze that and then pull the line off, get the line aimed over in the bucket.
It's even dripping a little bit because there's some in there. Then I'm going to use a cap. I'm going to come over here with this little rubber cap and pop it right on there so I can actually close off the return. So what's going on? Well, I'm going to fill it with fresh fluid. Once I fill it with fresh fluid, then what I'm going to do as Chase is inside the truck, he's going to go ahead and start cranking the truck when I tell it to and it's going to pump the fluid around the entire system.
See that's the key. Because we have the return line disconnected. So what we're doing is we're letting the pump do the work and pump it through the system. Now, you never want to let the pump run dry. So you want to do this in small stages. You just want to pump a little bit, refill, pump a little bit and refill. So Chase is in the truck. I'm going to hold this line down. Chase, if you just crank it over for a couple seconds. All right. That's good. All right. We still got some fluid in the pump. So you can go ahead and crank it a little more.
All right. Now, I would just go top it off and repeat the procedure. Just keep repeating the procedure until you start to get clean fluid through the whole system. Now think about this for a minute, if your pump goes bad and then you put a new pump on but you didn't flush the system, if you have a gearbox or a rack and pinion, all that metal's going to be in that system down there. As soon as you crank it up, it's running through the system. Well, what if your rack and pinion or gearbox goes bad? You replace that.
Well, think about that metal that was circulating around in the system. It's inside the pump. So what's going to
happen again, you crank it up, the metal's going to be in there. It's very important to flush it. When do you flush it? Well, follow your manufacture's specifications for the intervals but more importantly, any time you replace a component, you need to flush the system. It's just that simple. Because you're getting the stuff out of there, you're getting the debris, you're getting that old fluid you saw. It doesn't do well in the system. It creates heat, it causes problems.
Get it all out of there. Now, more importantly, once we get it all out, we need to install an inline filter.
Chase: Well, we just about got our power steering system in good shape. Just one more thing to do is to add in an inline filter. And to do that, it's a pretty simple job but always look at your old hoses and make sure they're in good shape. But remember, they deteriorate from the inside out. So we'll go ahead and install this filter here. And as you can see on here, it says flow. It only flows in one direction so make sure you get that correctly.
I went ahead and installed our small little hose to go back to the return side of the pop. Let's go head and pop that in. Very simple job. Got it in.
John: Looks like you about got it there. A couple of clamps, two hoses and you're good to go. The really cool part about the inline filter is there's actually a magnet in the front part here. That's why the direction of flow is so important because you're going to return the fluid back to the pump. The magnet's going to get catch the ferrous material and then the paper cartridge over here will get all the small stuff. Great insurance policy number one.
Number two, you want to make sure you're catching all that stuff. Why? Also, there's electrohydraulic power steering out there today and you can see the graphics. So think about that as well. Now we're using electric motor to actually power up the hydraulic fluid to do the work in your gearbox and rack and pinion. Another reason why a flush is a good idea. Don't forget, follow your manufacture's specifications for their intervals for doing the flush. And also, do it every single time you have a component failure.
I can't stress that enough. You got the gears in the rack, you got the gears in the gearbox, you got little vanes in the pump. No matter what fails, we want to get all that metal out of the system. You follow those procedures, your pump's going to last for a really long time. Once we get done, we're just going to add a little bit of fluid in there, top it off, then bleed the system to get all the air out of it so the pump will last.