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Shopping for power steering fluid: Dexron, Asian, American...?

I window-shopped for PS fluid at the Mart of Wal. The Super Tech said it was good for topping off but not a complete refill. The more-expensive Prestone came in 2 flavors: 1 for Asian cars, 1 for American cars. The legend on the sticker of my PS’s reservoir reads, ‘Use Dexron type power steering fluid only’. None of the choices (there was also Lucas) used the word Dexron. I suspect any of them would do the job, but I 'd like to know what distinguishes Dexron from other types, Asian from American (probably nothing), and why it wouldn’t be good to refill with Super Tech (because it has stop-leak additives?) Mine is currently at the low point and I may have had a leak - I haven’t added any in 20 years, so it can’t be too leaky - and would like to have some around in case I need it. I may replace the hose, too.

If I were you, I’d just buy it from a dealership or auto parts store that has the right product.

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Many older power steering systems used ATF, which is what Dexron is.


Way back when your truck was made, there were pretty much only 2 kinds of automatic transmission fluids in use, Type F and Dexron. Toyota built your power steering system to use Dexron transmission fluid. So I would use any transmission fluid rated for Dexron use.

BTW, Dexron has been superseded by Dexron II and Dexron IV.

When Dexron VI came out in 2006, it superseded all previous Dexrons for use in almost all GM automatic transmissions (per TSB 04-07-30-037D, Nov. 21, 2007). However, the backwards compatibility did not apply to power steering systems, or anything else besides auto transmissions that used ATF as a lubricant. GM required their part #9985010 be used as PS fluid (look for bottles that say they are compatible with that #). I assume this would also apply to the Toyota steering.

A few years ago I used the Prestone AS261 in the PS of an '03 GM vehicle after a hose replacement and it has been working fine.

When I shopped for power steering fluid for my Nissan, the dealer gave me power steering fluid, and told me that’s all they use themselves in their shops.

In any case, buy what the dealer uses.

Yup. Then in the 80’s some manufacturers started specific their own formula. Honda was one of the early entries. At least the Honda fluid was cheap. But before the 80’s every power steering system on every vehicle I owned used ATF. ATF is a type of hydraulic fluid.

I have the same question about a 1990 F-150? Every thin else I owned used dexron.

However, a whole lot of people will not know what we are talking about unless we slaughter the Dexron trademark into “Dextron”.

That’s a long trip. Besides, I was interested in the questions I asked.

It’s not PS fluid?

Not PS fluid?

None of the PS fluids mentioned Dexron - that’s because Dexron is an ATF?

What’s the difference between American and Asian? Why can I top off with Super Tech but not replace with it?

Because it uses ATF.

My Ford truck’s manual says to use a special Ford part number for the power steering pump fluid, different than what is spec’d for the automatic trans, but I’ve always used plain old Type F transmission fluid for both and never experienced any problems.

If the reservoir states Dexron, then the system was designed to use Dexron, which is ATF. So I would use whatever fluid you can get that states meets the old Dexron standard. Or use power steering fluid. I think you’re overthinking this.

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Any of the newer “universal fluids” will list Dexron and 30+ other specs in the compatibility list on the back label.
Power steering will be happy with it.


Good questions all… Methinks the vagaries have been induced by mfg’s trying to make a non special item…“more special” and in the process make more money lol, dont think they are above this thinking.

Probably never know the difference between these fluids beyond viscosity (even that is withheld) surely chemically they aren’t revealing any time soon.

I do know or have heard that Ford Type F is a bit heavier than Dextron, but the mouthfeel is the same so I’m not sure anymore and honestly I don’t look forward to more “scientifical testing”.

Just go with good ole Dextron…its easy to find…its ATF…it works…and you’re done.

I used to have a ton of Ford’s in my fleet, and the p/s pumps would whine if we used Dexron in them. We had use use actual P/S fluid in them to stop the whining.

Dexron and type F have the same viscosity, but type F used more Friction Modifiers.

Well sure fooled me @old_mopar_guy. Like I said, the “mouth feel” between the two seemed exactly the same and it may have been my imagination but I thought the Dextron had a slight Wintergreen Marvel Mystery Oil-esque flavor to it.

I am not interested in further testing however, as I feel as though I may have damaged something in the first go round.

Apologies: Humor is a coping mechanism for me… and if I have to cope with any more of the crap that I’ve been coping with…things are gonna get “funny” round here.

Why something like power steering fluid needs to have various options is beyond me, kind of like engine coolant. You’d think a spec could be set and followed, with backwards-compatible improvements over the years…

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Agreed ! Its a hydraulic fluid… basic stuff here. But why miss out on a marketing opportunity of Epic proportions? If you calculate what a can of special “PS fluid” costs per 8-16oz container, man that stuff is pretty expensive per gallon. An opportunity I do not believe others have missed out on. I mean I’m a moron and I could come up with it.

Just put a “special” label on the same old light viscosity oil w the correct lubricity etc… and you could make a fortune.