As the name suggests, the power steering fluid is a sort of car fluid used on the hydraulic pump for power steering. Cars made before the 2010s have power steering in them.
Power steering fluids provide hydraulic assist to the steering system of the vehicle. This helps you to move the steering of your wheels with ease. The fluid also helps in lubricating the steering pump.
The various Duramax power steering fluid types include Automatic Transmission Fluid, Synthetic Fluid, and Universal Power Steering Fluids. American car manufacturers like Ford suggest using ATF while Japanese cars run better with synthetic PS fluid. Universal PS fluids are generic and can be used for all kinds of power steering.
In this post, you’ll get to know about the Duramax power steering fluid type and which ones you can use on your vehicle’s system without running into any problem in the future.
Table of contents
What Is Power Steering?
It’s a mechanism that reduces the force needed to rotate the front wheels of a vehicle.
Motor vehicles tend to be heavy, and steering them would be impossible due to the stiffness without the assistance of power steerings. Power steering allows the cars to be maneuvered with the lowest effort and greatest comfort.
Power steering is a must for rotating in a tight corner, doing a U-turn, or maneuvering through a gas station or a busy road.
Before power steering came to the market, vehicle steering used a gear system that took an awful lot of turns in the steering to move the front wheels. With power steering, people can now rotate the front wheels at wider angles with fewer turns in the steering wheel. And that won’t even feel stiff.
Why Do You Need Power Steering Fluids?
Hydraulic power steering is the earliest type of power steering which has been around for many years until the last decade. As the name suggests, this kind of power steering uses hydraulic pressure.
Any kind of hydraulic system requires fluid to operate. It uses the volumetric attributes of fluids to increase the force. To ensure the steering turns conveniently, hydraulic power steering needs a specially designed fluid. You can’t put water or oil just because they are fluids.
Power steering fluids are made of oil as well, but the viscosity is different than ordinary oils. The ingredients and consistency of PS fluids are exquisitely designed to provide better lubrication to the power steering systems.
Types Of Power Steering Fluid
For Duramax power steering, you can use varieties of fluids that are found on the market. The most common kind of fluid used is Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF). Though they are slightly different from power steering fluid, they get the job done without any issues.
The three main types of power steering fluid you can find are –
- Automatic Transmission Fluid
- Synthetic PS fluid
- Universal Hydraulic PS Fluid
1. Automatic Transmission Fluid
Types of ATF fluids include Dexron, ATF+4, Mercon, and Type F. This is a common type of fluid used by all US-made vehicles. So if you use a car from Ford, GMC, Chevy, or Chrysler, it’ll take ATF as the PS fluid.
Although you’ll see some people argue about ATF being used as a power steering fluid, many people have used it, and they haven’t noticed any major flaw with it.
The only minor caveat is that ATF holds heat easily. Power steering pumps tend to get hot with ATF, which can cause some issues. However, it’s not the end of the world!
2. Synthetic-Based PS Fluid
This kind of fluid is based on synthetic oil. Many European and Japanese-made vehicle manufacturers recommend this type of fluid following the DIN 51 524T3 and ISO 7308 standards.
Duramax Power Steering also takes synthetic fluid. Synthetic fluids show better results in colder climates. They have a better flow rate than typical ATF and can reduce friction in the pump as they are less abrasive.
3. Universal Hydraulic PS Fluid
Universal power steering fluid can also be a viable option if you are unsure about the exact fluid type your car manufacturer recommended.
This type of power steering fluid can be used with many types of vehicles. Almost all domestic US automobiles can be used with a Universal Power Steering Fluid.
Few Brands To Consider For Duramax PS Fluid
If you want to use ATF as the power steering fluid, you can use Dexron 3 fluids.
Looking for a synthetic fluid for your power steering? You may want to go for Prestone, Amsoil, Royal purple, or Lucas Synthetic fluids.
If you want to go for a Universal power steering fluid, you can check out the Lubegard power steering fluid.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Are brake fluid and power steering fluid the same?
No, brake fluid and power steering fluid are not the same, and these are not substitutable.
Brake fluids are made from glycol-ether, whereas steering fluids are mostly petroleum. They are not lubricant type, so they totally won’t work with power steering either.
- Why should you change the PS fluid?
The fluids in the power steering reservoir get polluted due to heavy usage over time. The liquid gets darker and smells burnt. This will create more friction in the hydraulic pump and cause a stiff steering movement. Also, the pump will make extra noise.
So, if your Duramax power steering has been feeling stiffer than usual and fluid is very dirty, it’s time for you to change the power steering fluid.
- When should you replace the PS fluid?
You can check the condition of the fluid by simply opening the reservoir that’s situated above the hydraulic pump with a belt mechanism.
The fluid color depends on the manufacturer. Generally, they are slightly opaque amber-colored. But old and used fluid looks like murky black. If you see the Fluid is getting bubbly, it means that somehow air has gotten into the reservoir.
As a rule of thumb, changing the PS fluid at least every 5 years is necessary. Another rule is to change it after every 50,000 miles. So, whichever comes first, you should be ready to change the fluid.
- What are the problems of using the wrong type of PS fluid?
If you use any other type of fluid rather than the recommended power steering fluid, your vehicle’s power steering will make noises and whine. Also, the steering wheels are going to feel stiffer and will result in an impaired driving experience.
After so much discussion about the power steering systems, we hope you’ve enough information about Duramax Power Steering Fluid Type.
You can use three types of fluid in the power steering. Transmission fluid can be used in power steering, and synthetic fluids are a great alternative to typical PS fluid for better operation in colder climates. However, you shouldn’t use brake fluid as power steering fluid as they are different.
Remember to use the correct maintenance tools for getting proper performance from your car. Here’s to a smooth driving experience!
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Thomas is a retired motor mechanic, father, and grandfather. He writes from his 20+ years in the automotive industry to help you find and solve anything related to car repairs, maintenance, and care.