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Power Steering and Transmission fluid changes

Acura 1999 TL with 39,000 miles

The car is over 9 years old and hasn’t had either PS or Trans fluid changed. I’ve assumed with such low mileage I didn’t have enough wear for the PS fluid to be flushed and since the Trans is a sealed system do I really need to do it ? If yes, is it necessary to use Honda fluids and how much fluid does it take for PS and Transmission ?

Almost all of these things go by mileage OR time - so low miles doesn’t mean you don’t need to do things like this. Your best guide is the owner’s manual as it will give you mileage and time intervals for these things. So check it.

The manual will also normally give fluid recommendations and amounts. But it sounds like you won’t do these things yourself in which case you just need a good independent local mechanic (not at a car repair chain store) who should do the right thing.

If you are wanting to do it yourself, pick up a shop manual - $20 or so at many auto parts stores.

I won’t do this myself. I’d like to use Honda’s transmission fluid but it doesn’t say in my manual what volume of fluid to use. I use an independant repair shop and they won’t use Honda’s fluid. I’d buy it from my Acura dealer and my mechanic would use it. If I go with the car shops fluid how critical is it if they don’t use Genuine Honda trans fluid ?

The Acura parts/service dept will be able to tell you exactly how much to buy (for both trans & PS) - but be sure that you know what your mechanic is going to do - a transmission “flush” will require probably twice as much fluid as just dropping the pan. (I would be inclined to do the latter, but some would say to do a flush).

I don’t know about Honda fluids and whether or not you can get OEM spec fluid from another company. I’m sure someone else here knows. Either way if you go to the dealer you’ll know that you’re getting the right thing and the extra you pay probably won’t be that much and will be worth the peace of mind.

I have to wonder about your mechanic though - ? Very strange that s/he won’t just use the fluid you ask for. What does s/he say about it?

I have a 2000 3.2TL (with 96,000 miles) and I’d highly recommend changing those fluids.

I have a vacuum pump that I use to suck the fluid out of the p/s reservoir and then I refill it with fresh fluid (< 1 qt).

The transmission has a drain plug and when removed, ~2.9 qts of ATF drains out. Using a funnel, I refill the trans with fresh fluid through the dipstick hole.

Use Honda fluid (I use synthetic PSF and ATF and they work great).

As has already been stated, all maintenance issues with cars have both odometer mileage intervals and elapsed time intervals, with the proviso, “whichever comes first”, being the key to when something is due. Thus, your low-mileage car is due for many service items on the basis of elapsed time.

Since you seem to be unaware of the elapsed time values for maintenance, I have to assume that you have not used the Acura Maintenance Schedule that came with the car. Although your questions regarding the volume of transmission fluid (and the importance of using Honda/Acura fluid) have been answered, there is another, even more critical maintenance issue with your car, namely the timing belt.

On the basis of elapsed time, your car is ~3 years overdue for replacement of the timing belt. When (not if) the belt snaps, the engine will sustain damage that will cost ~$2,000 to repair. So, if the timing belt has not been replaced, do it immediately–even before you do anything regarding the transmission. Also, the water pump and the timing belt tensioners should be replaced at the same time as the belt.

You need to use the Honda fluid or one of the new synthetics that states that it meets Honda’s requirements, otherwise the transmission will be damaged. The Honda fluid is only about $5 from the dealer. The Honda transmission does not have a pan or replaceable filter. I don’t recommend flushing, just drain and refill, about 2.5 quarts.

The power steering fluid does not need to be changed. Driver has some very good points about the timing belt. You should do that.

Regarding transmission fluid, check the maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual. I believe you are overdue.

Regarding the power steering fluid, I don’t think there is an interval listed in the owner’s manual. In this case, just buy a cheap siphon pump and change it yourself. You can buy any power steering fluid at the auto parts store that reads “power steering fluid for Honda vehicles.” The brand is less important.

Transmission fluid should be changed every 25-30k miles regardless of what your owners manual says.


To replace the timing belt cost around $900 so what’s another $1000 if I wait ? Just kidding. I replaced the belt/water pump etc. at 34,000 miles several years ago. It killed me to do it but having owned Honda’s since 1976 I knew the cost if I didn’t.

I do follow a regular maintenance schedule and my mechanic faithfully test all the cars fluids during my visit.

Thanks all for your help.

I just paid $8.57 for the Trans fluid and 4.14 for the PS fluid

these trannies were notorious for failure, especially if fluid wasn’t changed…Honda even extended warranty to 100K on some. Use only Honda fluid, and do a tranny drain, replacing the fluid 3 times from the drain “pan” and after each refill, drive it and put it into each gear and run at least five starts from that position…this will dillute out the old fluid from the rest of the tranny you cannot normallly get out… and shifting moves the fluid through the body and solenoid and helps…believe me this is the best but timeconsuming way to do it. Honda fluids have special friction modifiers, so use them or you will not likte the shift quality, especially 2 gear. Do this religiously every 30K…and maybe they won’t be telling you your 2 clutch pack is shot.

Anybody know exactly WHY you need to use Genuine Honda Transmission fluid? I know that you gotta do it, but can’t imagine the “regular” tranny fluid being that much different. Thoughts? Rocketman