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'03 outback limited, '01 Outback Limited, '01 Legacy L wagon, '96 Legacy Brighton wagon
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2,606 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Need to change the power steering fluid in the '03 (and probably the '01 as well). Assuming that what is in the reservoir is Dex 3, it has started to turn brownish, but at least doesn't smell burnt - more like it has just been there too long.

What is your preferred method of replacing all of the fluid? I could go through the multiple drain-and-refill cycle that I am doing for the transmission, but I believe that there really has to be a better way to get it all replaced in one shot.
 

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Meh.
I has wagons.
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12,359 Posts
Plain old Dex III fluid there.

I simply do several drain and fills with a turkey baster, mostly cause I don't wanna yank on old hoses and help them leak.
 

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'03 outback limited, '01 Outback Limited, '01 Legacy L wagon, '96 Legacy Brighton wagon
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2,606 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Got plenty of Dex 3 from buying it for flushing the tranny! :)

With no one answering about a one-shot draining of the system, I've started the suck-it-out & refill routine. Have you ever figured out how many times to turn the wheels lock-to-lock to get a complete cycling of the fluid?
 

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Meh.
I has wagons.
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12,359 Posts
I didn't keep track, just went until the fluid looked good.
 

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2007 2.5 L Obsidian Black Outback XTL
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602 Posts
Couldn't you crack a fitting just a little loose on let it bleed out while you had an assistant turning the wheel from stop to stop?

I would think that would dump the fluid in the pump, lines and reservoir. By going from stop to stop it is also going to empty one piston, then the other.

I have swapped the fluid (on accident) that way.
 

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2012 OB , 2017 Impreza
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3,657 Posts
I have described my PS changing technique here on these forums in the past so I will list the highlights here:

WARNING: Do not allow the pump to suck air, it is not trivial to re-prime it.

1) Remove drive belt from PS pump
2) Pop off return (upper) hose from reservoir and feed it into an empty container (pop bottle...etc)
3) by hand, turn PS pulley CLOCKWISE
---the level in the reservoir will go down as the empty container fills with old fluid
--- STOP turning before the PS pump sucks air and refill the reservoir with clean fluid

It should be obvious when the clean fluid begins to come out of the hose. Reinstall the belt and hose and top off the reservoir.

**Take old fluid into proper recycling center**

For best results, repeat the above after about a week of driving. In this way, you have exchanged over 93% of the fluid.

The thing I noticed the most after replacing PS fluid is the ability of the steering-wheel to 'return to center' by releasing it after a sharp turn.
 

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Premium Member
'03 outback limited, '01 Outback Limited, '01 Legacy L wagon, '96 Legacy Brighton wagon
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2,606 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks! Will try that "by hand" method - i also figured that using the pump under engine power might be a problem.
 

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2009 OB 2.5i SE 4EAT
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131 Posts
I have described my PS changing technique here on these forums in the past so I will list the highlights here
Thanks for the cliff's notes version of this. This is helpful, and appears to be the preferred method.

With a few extra steps, you can also push fluid out of the steering rack while doing this process *like Tishers said a couple posts up*

add: In 2018 dollars I went to Wally and bought the Valvoline Max Life Full Synthetic Dex/Merc ATF for $19.xx/gal incl. tax, that's a better deal than Amazon at the time of this posting, and a better deal than any other gallon of full synthetic dexron atf I could find from any brand I've heard of. Does our transmission take the same exact type of stuff?

These cars need a lot lot lot of love when they get up to the 200k area. Like just about any car I guess...
 

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Outbacks, SVXs, XT6, 4Runner, Celica, Brat, E150s
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It is completely trivial to prime a power steering system. Fill it, run it, and turn the wheel from one end to the other.


I've done probably 8-10 cars with the same method, but leaving the engine to turn the pump. Cap the line from the reservoir, and run a long hose from the rack into a container (preferably a pan so I can see the color of the fluid coming out). It goes fast, so I usually have someone help me, they can also turn the wheel end to end to clear out the rack. Running dry does damage, obviously.


And yes, 2005 and older 4EATs use DEXIII or equivalent.
 

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2012 OB , 2017 Impreza
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3,657 Posts
It is completely trivial to prime a power steering system. Fill it, run it, and turn the wheel from one end to the other...

Sure, this will work... but running ANY hydraulic pump dry is VERY bad for it.

Most folks are changing their fluid to EXTEND the life of the pump... not to wear it out by running it dry for a few seconds.
 

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Has anyone tried emptying the reservoir, placing the suction hose after extending it suitably, into a gallon container of fresh fluid and catching the old returning fluid via the return hose, extended suitably into another container, until fresh fluid comes out. I will try this in the near future on our 08 OBS with ~132K miles.

Just read the posts again and it appears that the above method is being used.
 

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Outbacks, SVXs, XT6, 4Runner, Celica, Brat, E150s
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Sure, this will work... but running ANY hydraulic pump dry is VERY bad for it.

Most folks are changing their fluid to EXTEND the life of the pump... not to wear it out by running it dry for a few seconds.
Which is why my next paragraph said "Running dry does damage, obviously."

Doing it your way is completely safe, you're not going to do any wear to the pump by spinning it by hand while dry.
 
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