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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 09-24-2013, 07:45 PM   #1
jfoj
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How Often Do You Change Your Power Steering Fluid

So I thought I would just toss this one up and see what everyone has to say on power steering fluid change interval.

I think it might be wise to tie the change interval to the BMW Oil Change Intervals as many may do a lot of city driving where the total mileage may be a bit misleading.

Anyway, be interested to see what others choose for PS fluid change intervals and why.

Also a question on cars with Sport Suspension, how easy is the steering wheel to turn when not moving. I was working on a car recently that seems to have very little power assist and the car almost feels like it does not have any power steering when stopped and turning the wheel like parallel parking. I am thinking something may be up with the power assist on this car?
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Last edited by jfoj; 09-24-2013 at 07:50 PM.
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Old 09-24-2013, 07:51 PM   #2
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I think 30-45k is a good interval or when it gets dirty/gray looking which may indicate internal wear. Probably wouldn't hurt to suction out and refill the reservoir every other oil change. I run Redline D4 ATF in mine
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Old 09-24-2013, 07:55 PM   #3
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Probably wouldn't hurt to suction out and refill the reservoir every other oil change.
I agree that using one of the cheap $6 ATF pumps makes it VERY easy to pump the reservoir dry and I was also thinking it may be an easy way to keep the fluid fresh at every oil change or every other oil change.

I just was working on a car with 75k on the clock and the fluid was just gross, I did a 2 reservoir pump and fill as I did not have time to pull the hose and drain the entire system.

Will probably pump it again in another month and see how things look.

I typically use Mobil 1 Synthetic ATF.
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Old 09-24-2013, 08:00 PM   #4
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Power steering systems don't contaminate the fluid like combustion in a motor does.

The biggest risk in power steering systems is contamination where particles as small as 200 microns in size can lodge in the internal seals, causing them to leak.

Less is more. That said, I suction out the reservoir and fill with whatever synthetic ATF is on sale at Wal-Mart every 40,000 miles.
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Old 09-24-2013, 08:12 PM   #5
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I do a ps fluid drain and fill every 30,000 miles or 5 years. This seems to keep the fluid looking and smelling good.
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Old 09-24-2013, 08:24 PM   #6
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My p/s system has a leak so about every 5k I top off the reservoir
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Old 09-24-2013, 08:35 PM   #7
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I changed mine when I got my car using the "turkey baster" method. It's so cheap and easy to do, I'll do it probably once every three years.
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Old 09-24-2013, 08:52 PM   #8
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Second owner of a 2003 330 CI. Currently has 69,400 miles. Interesting that this thread was started because I check the power steering fluid today and it looked dirty. Don't think it was ever changed.

Will it help to suck out the fluid, refill the reservoir, run the car for a short time to circulate the new fluid with the old and then repeat the procedure another 2 times using the old reservoir. I understand the reservoir has a filter integrated in it. Or do I need to replace the reservoir with a new one and then add fluid, run the car, suck out the fluid and repeat the procedure another 2 times.
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Old 09-24-2013, 09:05 PM   #9
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Yes the reservoir does have a filter integrated into it. Unfortunately you have to change the reservoir because the filter is not serviceable. There is also an O-rng on the fill cap that flattens out and gets hard. You would never think there was an O-ring on the cap.

I think there reservoir comes with a new cap.

Based on my E39, the hoses to the reservoir get sort an swell anyway.

Best to just replace the 2 hoses and the reservoir if there are any swollen hoses.

If you have the reservoir off, you can typically turn the steering wheel lock to lock with the engine not running to get the fluid out of the rack, or at least on my E39 with the steering box this is a quick trick to get the fluid out of the steering box.

But sucking the fluid out and driving the car a bit and then doing this a number of times is also a good idea.
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Hidden OBC Menu - Check Voltage, Temps, Fuel Level - http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=239619

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Old 09-24-2013, 09:09 PM   #10
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How Often Do You Change Your Power Steering Fluid

155k never have. I will soon though.


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Old 09-24-2013, 09:23 PM   #11
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jfoj,
You mentioned that you recently worked on one that had 75,000 miles. Per your write up, you didn't mention replacing the reservoir with a new one. I assume pumping the fluid out of the existing reservoir and refilling it 2 or 3 times is sufficient with a car with that many miles.
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Old 09-24-2013, 09:23 PM   #12
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Having just replaced my steering rack at 110k, this is what I recommend:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Miller
Power Steering Fluid: Every 30,000 miles
This is a commonly-neglected operating fluid and changing it at a reasonable interval can
easily make the power steering pump, rack or box last a great deal longer.

I put the car on four jack stands, remove the plastic cover under the front of the
engine, remove the power steering fluid reservoir cap, then open one of the power
steering fluid pipes or hoses at the pump. Work the steering wheel back and forth (engine
off) until no more fluid comes out. Reattach the pipe or hose, replacing any crush
washers involved with new parts from BMW, and then fill the reservoir, start the engine
and continue filling according.

Almost all older BMWs use automatic transmission fluid in the power steering system,
except for a select few that require special Pentosin hydraulic oil. Nothing will balls up
the works faster than using one when you should be using the other. Check the sticker on
the reservoir, check the owner’s manual, and if you are still confused, take the car to a
pro or e-mail me. The rule of thumb is, if the car has a self-leveling rear suspension, then
it uses Pentosin. Problem is, people tend to remove the self-leveling rear suspension
because it’s too expensive to repair or they want high performance shocks and springs.
This can trap future owners into putting ATF into the power steering system when they
should have used Pentosin.

All 2006-on BMWs except the 2006 E46 require Pentosin CHF 11.S special hydraulic oil
in the power steering system. These cars all have a sticker on the top of the power
steering fluid reservoir cap setting forth whether they require Pentosin CHF 11.S.

Do not screw this up, or you will be in a world of hurt. Pentosin CHF 11.S is not
compatible with ATF or any other lubricant or hydraulic oil!

If your car uses ATF in the power steering system, Red Line D4 ATF is fine if you want
to use a premium product. I don’t recommend Red Line Synthetic Power Steering Fluid
for use in BMWs.
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Old 09-24-2013, 09:32 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick369 View Post
Second owner of a 2003 330 CI. Currently has 69,400 miles. Interesting that this thread was started because I check the power steering fluid today and it looked dirty. Don't think it was ever changed.

Will it help to suck out the fluid, refill the reservoir, run the car for a short time to circulate the new fluid with the old and then repeat the procedure another 2 times using the old reservoir. I understand the reservoir has a filter integrated in it. Or do I need to replace the reservoir with a new one and then add fluid, run the car, suck out the fluid and repeat the procedure another 2 times.
Use my guide! Emptying and refilling the reservoir is better than nothing but it's the lazy man's way! I recommend replacing all the lines and all the fluid if you can swing it!

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Last edited by Mango; 09-24-2013 at 09:33 PM.
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Old 09-24-2013, 09:35 PM   #14
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I changed it when I bought the car at 106k. It was black and badly burnt, probably original from 2002.
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Old 09-24-2013, 09:36 PM   #15
wildirish317
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mango View Post
Use my guide! Emptying and refilling the reservoir is better than nothing but it's the lazy man's way! I recommend replacing all the lines and all the fluid if you can swing it!

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=996069
I agree to that, but not every 30k miles. If you change your fluid at 30k intervals, I would think that the system would last 120k or more.

That being said, most of us are probably past 90k without any fluid change, so your guide is probably the way to go.
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I just don't know what I'd do with 560 hp that doesn't involve getting arrested.
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Old 09-24-2013, 09:40 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wildirish317 View Post
I agree to that, but not every 30k miles. If you change your fluid at 30k intervals, I would think that the system would last 120k or more.

That being said, most of us are probably past 90k without any fluid change, so your guide is probably the way to go.
Yeah just about every used E46 anyone acquires will have the original fluid in it. its good to replace it all the first time then maintain it by emptying/refilling the reservoir periodically. then maybe a full refresh 30-45k after that. At the end of the day, a remanufactured rack and/or pump isn't that expensive. but having fresh fluid in your car makes you feel good.
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Old 09-24-2013, 09:42 PM   #17
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I find it easiest to do (and remember) at every oil change which for me is every 10k miles. The extractor is already out and takes all of a minute to do. I do one drain and fill, and at that interval the fluid never gets dirty. Redline D4 is cheap in my neck of the woods (because they make it here) and the quantity swapped is itself cost-negligible.

I've avoided any rack or pump related problem thus far so I'm sticking with this methodology.
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Old 09-24-2013, 10:17 PM   #18
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Not enough
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Old 09-24-2013, 10:28 PM   #19
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This sounds like an excuse to use my new £6.99 siphon pump
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Old 09-24-2013, 10:28 PM   #20
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You have Harbor Freight in the UK?
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“The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you. There isn't any other test. If the machine produces tranquility it's right. If it disturbs you it's wrong until either the machine or your mind is changed.”

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Miller
I just don't know what I'd do with 560 hp that doesn't involve getting arrested.
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