Power Steering Fluid Overflow

My mechanic told me that Ford Focus Station Wagon 2003 has a leak in the power steering reservoir and in the line. I’m currently on a road trip, and have just been topping off the power steering fluid whenever it got low. That’s been working fine. However, I recently misplaced the fluid my mechanic gave me (unfortunately, I don’t remember what kind) and bought prestone atf stop leak from walmart. Drove a while, the grinding noise came back. I popped the hood and when I checked the reservoir, bubbly, dark grey liquid overflowed out of the top. I wiped it off, but now I’m wondering what happened and what the next step is. Somehow air got in – should I have flushed out the system before putting new liquid in? I’m on the road, so not able to jack it up personally and also not willing to go to an auto mechanic unless I really need to, but I think I need to flush it out. Has anyone experimented with flushing out the system with a turkey baster?

Any insight is appreciated! Thanks.

When the fluid gets low air will get whipped into the fluid and what you saw was the result. After filling with fluid and leaving the car parked for a while the air bubbles will clear out and you’ll be ok until it runs low again. While I’ve never seen stop leak actually stop a power steering leak on any kind of car it has occasionally slowed the leak considerably without harming anything so no need to get it out.

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Assume you mean this (not atf):
Picture 1

I have known some Ford P/S pumps to whine when using cheapy P/S fluids. And I. personally, would not recommend using the stop leak any more. You tried it, it either will work or it won’t. Don’t add anymore. Keep topping off until the leak gets to bad to continue, or you get to somewhere where it can be replaced.

(This is assuming the the Focus does not have a hydraulic brake booster- which I do not think it does. if it does have a hydraulic brake booster, loss of P/S fluid will hinder your stopping ability.)

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I have heard some power steering stop leaks swell the rubber in o-rings, and may work for a while, but because of the weakened state of the o-ring can lead to a catastrophic failure. My guess keeping topping it off will get you by, but remember one case where it was leaking onto the serpentine belt causing driving issues.

I’ve used that method on my 70’s Ford truck. Worked ok. I wasn’t battling any problem, I had to disconnect the PS lines for access to the fuel pump, and while everything back together I wanted to renew the PS fluid too. It may be important to use a certain type of power steering fluid however, so double check what it says in the owner’s manual. On my truck it said to use Type F automatic transmission fluid for the PS system.

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What would be a catastrophic failure? Car breakdown?

I’m pretty sure it is ATF fluid, which the car manual said was OK. I will double check.

That could be a problem, since the ATF sealer is meant to be diluted into, maybe, 10 quarts of ATF. I’d get some Prestone (or other) power steering fluid and remove (with a turkey baster) and replace as much fluid as you can, 4 or 5 times, driving a few days between replacements.

Also, the refill process should include letting the engine idle and turn the steering all the way to the left and all the way to the right to help drive out air bubbles from the rack.