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robcass Thu Dec 17, 2009 10:46 pm

I recently filled my power steering resevoir (yes, with ATF). The problem was I could not tell the level for the life of me. I probably over filled it.

Is it possible that when over filled, the fluid will spew out? (Asking because there is wetness at either the resevoir or the upper hose with the metal end.

If it is that upper hose, can I simply replace and refill the system or is there a critcal bleed process?
Thanks in advance!

syncrodoka Thu Dec 17, 2009 11:19 pm

There is no bleed process that I have ever heard of. Just add fluid, start motor, turn steering wheel lock to lock and add more fluid if needed. I once had a reservoir develop a small crack just on top of the mount and it took me a while to figure out where the leak was.

Timwhy Fri Dec 18, 2009 2:01 am

If you feel that you have TOO much ATF in the res.and want to get rid of some. You can always diconnect the return line from the rack to the res. and start the engine for a couple of seconds. This will send fluid out so you'll need something to catch it. Never reuse ATF that comes out in this process, I think that you have to top the res. off when you attach the low pressure hose. The top hose is the low pressure return line.

tencentlife Fri Dec 18, 2009 9:09 am

The only rson you don't fill the res to the top is to leave a little space for fluid expansion. If you've overfilled you'll know it by the fluid overflowing, but that will also correct the level. Mop n' go.

Bleeding is as described: run engine and work steering lock to lock a few times, then correct fluid level if needed.

If you wish to draw out excess fluid before it makes a mess, a bulb syringe is a lot easier and neater than undoing hoses. It's a good tool to have around, I like the automotive ones where the bulb can be separated from the nozzle to clean it out. They can be found at some FLAPS for a few dollars, or small one-piece ones can be had at pharmacies (also called a baby syringe).

Did you know there's a filter in the PS fluid res that you can replace?

robcass Fri Dec 18, 2009 11:27 am

I was thinking it did not look like much of a filter.... I was hesitant to unscrew the big cap on the tank, as everything plastic on my van seems to break when I touch it.... Thanks for the tip, much appreciated.

tencentlife Fri Dec 18, 2009 11:58 am

Yes, getting the big black cover off the res can be tough, but if you want to do a nice service on the PS, something that never gets done, then it's worthwhile to get at the filter. It's easiest to just remove the res to do all this, then you can get a good grip on the cover because it can definitely take some twist to get it moving, and also clean the sludge out of the bottom of the res at the same time. When the res is clean, you can actually read the level, imagine that! Clean filter means a happy pump, a happy pump and clean fluid means a happy rack, and that's about all there is to it. I promise your old filter is probably the one VW put in at the factory, these never get changed because no one knows they're there, and I also promise it is blacker than black with filth. In contrast, I used to work on high end Euro cars and we changed the PS filters with a major service. They were mostly mounted like this one inside the res but there was slightly easier access to get the top off.

OilNBolts Fri Dec 18, 2009 7:52 pm

My '89 had a power steering pump that was really noisy in cold weather until it had a chance to warm up. As a Saturday Vanagon project I removed the reservoir, replaced the nasty black filter, and flushed the system with clean new fluid.
Big difference- pump noise was gone and it even felt smoother, though I may have been imagining that part. This procedure has come right after fuel line replacement on the next two vans.

robcass Tue Dec 22, 2009 3:34 pm

What is the best way to flush the system?

randywebb Tue Dec 22, 2009 5:02 pm

robcass wrote: What is the best way to flush the system?

I just compiled these, mostly from tencentlife:

Look for round clearish reservoir at the front of the engine compartment (back of the van)

drawing on Bentley p. 48.7

filter for power steering

Van-Cafe - $7.50
Power Steering Filter - for 1984-91
This filter is found inside the power steering reservoir. Sold per unit not a pair.

You won't be able to get all the PS fluid out without undoing the fittings at the rack, which I didn't bother with when I did mine. You can get most of it out by undoing both hoses at the reservoir and lowering them into a pan. Then work the steering wheel from stop to stop several times and it will eject most of the fluid that way, leavng just some in the lines. Do not run the motor without a supply of fluid as the pump will be damaged very quickly.

To refill, fill the reservoir (new Dexron II ATF only, not FLM ATF or PS fluid), start the motor briefly and shut off, and refill the reservoir. Repeat until the level does not drop. Do this several times until the fluid level doesn't drop after a quick start/stop (no more than 2-3 seconds running). Once the thing is idling and the level has stabilised, air-purge the system by idling the motor while cranking the steering stop to stop at least 3 cycles.

One drain/refill may be enough, if you feel that you got most of the fluid out, but if you want to be sure, then repeat the drain/refill and purge.

It's also a good idea to check the torque of the 4 pump body bolts, as they have been known to loosen and fall out. The belt tension should also be a little tighter than you use for an alternator belt; about 1/4" deflection mid-span is good.

Test-drive, then check the PS fluid level; check the PS reservoir if you took it out for cleaning

robcass Sat Jan 02, 2010 6:37 pm

The procedure worked great, thank a bunch. I bought both replacement hoses that come the resevoir from Van Cafe and simply cut them off the resevoir rather than try to get them off. I removed the resevoir which made it easier to unscrew the black cap which was tough. I had to carefully cut the hoses off the res ports as they were hardened and would not move. The filter and fluid was pretty black. The bolt on the res pump was on there really tight. I had to use a beefy 6" extension on the 24mm socket and a long ratchet handle to break it loose. (I suggest you not replace the res hoses if you only have a simple wrench.) I ended up putting about a quart and an eighth of ATF back into the system. Note- be careful when removing the res. There is are two tabs on the bottom of the unit (works like a backpack clip) that clips it onto the holder welded to the side of the engine. I got lucky and did not break those but I can see how it could be easy to do.

binger59 Wed Jan 27, 2010 1:47 pm

I'm about to do this In the next month or so and had a question. I was browsing the FLAPs today and didn't see any Dexron II just dexron III and VI and a couple other atf products. So the questions is does it have to be "dexron II" or will III or VI or the other be ok?

Timwhy Wed Jan 27, 2010 2:28 pm

should be the same evolved product with a different name.

binger59 Wed Jan 27, 2010 3:26 pm

Thanks Timwhy I thought that might be the case but I wasn't positive.

randywebb Wed Jan 27, 2010 5:37 pm

" break the bolt on the reservoir pump loose.

I'm not clear on why the pump had to be removed to flush out the system (??)

Timwhy Wed Jan 27, 2010 6:07 pm

randywebb wrote: " break the bolt on the reservoir pump loose.

I'm not clear on why the pump had to be removed to flush out the system (??)

You don't!

You have to remove the low pressure return to the resevior then run the engine for a few seconds to flush out the system. Don't run the pump dry though, it will kill it! Then add the new ATF and run the engine some more to get it in the power steering rack, and lines ( a few more seconds). Then reattach the LP side and fill the res. accordingly. Pretty easy stuff!

randywebb Sun Jul 18, 2010 5:24 pm

new question:

how do you know if you are running the power steering pump dry or not??

Bentley says to bleed the system with the engine off (48.8 ) - is there some noise?

dobryan Sun Jul 18, 2010 9:14 pm

If the pump runs dry it makes a nasty noise. In my experience you'll know, don't ask me how I learned this.

randywebb Sun Jul 18, 2010 10:30 pm

thanks much

randywebb Mon Jul 19, 2010 3:44 pm

I was unable to get any power steering fluid out with the engine turned off.

So, I turned it on & cranked the wheel back & forth, lock to lock - that got out a bit more fluid.

Can't tell if I'm done or not as I don't want to tear up the pump - no unusual noises yet.

Any thoughts on using compressed air into one hose to try and blow fluid out the other??

syncrodoka Mon Jul 19, 2010 3:49 pm

I have never tried to do it with the engine off because the pump pressurizes the fluid to go through the rack.
Just drive it around with a bottle of ATF for a day and check if it needs to be topped off. Once it is full there isn't anything else to do to it.

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