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George H.
George H., ASE Certified Technician
Category: Nissan
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Experience:  ASE Master 15+ years
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Nissan Frontier: Ive put Dot 3 brake fluid..power steering reservoir

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I have a Nissan Frontier 2001 and I've put Dot 3 brake fluid in my power steering reservoir.  How big a deal is this, and what is the best recommended course of action?

Hello I will help you with your question,


The brake fluid will swell the rubber parts of the power steering system so the system needs to be flushed and the fluid replaced with clean fluid. I would find a shop that has a BG power steering flush system ( BG find a shop) and let them know what the problem is.


Let me know what I can do to help you with this


Thank you



Customer: replied 6 years ago.
So, is it safe to drive for now? It's night here and I need to drive 20mins to work in the morning, I just need to know if I can drive it to the shop after or if I should get a taxi and have my truck towed.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Also, what fluid should I be using in the first place? I hear ATF (I don't know what that stands for) or PS (Power Steering fluid, right?).

Has the engine been run since the brake fluid was added and how much fluid is in the power steering system?



Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Yes, I drove it from the grocery store back home after adding the brake fluid (Dot 3), which is about 6 mins at 40mph. It was virtually empty to begin with, and I added 3/4 of a bottle like you can pick up at a grocery store. It was Prestone.

If the system was empty and there is now 3/4 quart of DOT 3 in it you can plan on replacing parts of the steering system. If you drive it you may lose your steering so I have to suggest that you not operate it until it is repaired.


There was another problem before you added the fluid that caused the fluid loss, it may be a hose, the pump or the steering rack so at this point you need the system diagnosed to determine what copmonents are damaged before you can safely operate the truck


Sorry for the bad news this early in the morning.


Let me know what I can do to help you with this





Customer: replied 6 years ago.

It was mostly empty, and whatever amount I poured in put it to about 2/3 full I think. As for the lack of fluid, yes, there is a leak that needs attention there which I must deal with. The wheel had been hard to turn last week and so I finally put some fluid in.


I've heard I can use a turkey baster to extract most of the fluid in there at the moment, then add in some of the correct fluid... which, by the way, is what exactly? I still don't know what I am supposed to refill it with, ATF or PS (oh, and could you tell me what those letters stand for?).


If I drive it I may lose my steering? I was under the impression that power steering simply made it easier to turn the wheel, but what you're describing makes it sound like I won't be able to turn the vehicle whatsoever. Could you clarify?


Thank you. :)

You can use power steering fluid (labeled as such) or dexron 3 transmission fluid (ATF) to fill your system.


You can empty the reservoir with a turkey baster but if the pump has run since you added the brake fluid the fluid has been circulated throughout the system and the Glycol based brake fluid is attacking the rubber seals and hoses that were designed for the petroleum based power steering fluid and the rubber unlinks so it becomes porous and swells. At this point I doubt that you can remove enough of the fluid to save the rack, hoses and pump but I would try by having it flushed at a shop that uses the BG system.


The BG uses a full gallon of fluid to replace what you have and will condition the seals so there is a chance that it will work. I have to caution you that the steering rack can get stuck in place if the seals on the ends of the pistons swell enough so it is dangerous to drive in this condition



Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you. I'll get on this right away. I guess the only question I have left is, what does "BG system" stand for? I realize the mechanics will likely know this when I say it that way, but I like knowing these things just in case. :)

BG is Barry Grant and is a system of flush/fluid exchange machines that many shops use. You can find one of these shops near you by going to BG find a shop


Let me know if there is anything else I can do to help you





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