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Eric, Automotive Repair Shop Manager
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 32575
Experience:  Automotive Repair Shop Manager, Technician/JA Mentor
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I accidently put antifreeze into pwer steering reservior. Flushed

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I accidently put antifreeze into pwer steering reservior. Flushed out right away. Repeated flushing a week later. Power steering comes and goes now. It is now tight even when in park. Will antifreeze damage the power steering system? or is it possibly a belt or the tensioner?



The antifreeze can and will damage both the pump and the power rack and pinion unit in much the same way as it damages an engine if it gets in the crankcase. The power steering fluid cools and lubricates the internal parts of both the pump and rack and pinion gear. Antifreeze introduced into the system will wash out the power steering fluid from the internal parts and cause damage due to no lubricant.


I would start by replacing the power steering pump to start, but you may have to end up replacing the rack and pinion as well.

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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
This is a more technical question... is antifreeze heavier than power steering fluid? We disconnected the hose from the reservoir and drained it, but if antifreeze is heavier, it may have gone down into the hose farther than we actually cleaned it. if the pump was never turned on prior to flushing it out, will even a tiny amount in the system cause problems? And, what is the easiest way to see if it is a tensioner problem. The steering started getting loose only when engine speed slowed down, but has gotten worse. To me, that could be a belt or tensioner issue.



Antifreeze is thinner than power steering fluid, so I would assume it is lighter as well. A tiny amount, such as a couple of teaspoons shouldnt damage the system.


The belt shouldnt have any more than 1/8" deflection. You can remove the belt and check the tensioner pulley for binding when turning by hand:


Click image to see an enlarged view

Fig. Loosen the adjusting bolt counterclockwise looking from "A" position and then remove the P/S belt