Mechanics

NISSAN ALTIMA BRAKE FLUID PROBLEM

2010 Nissan Altima • 55,700 miles

My manual says I should only use nissan Power steering fluid and brake fluid. Can I use any power steering fluid for imports if the power steering fluid and brake fluid needs replacing. I know that most maufactures tell you that they reccomend their brand. I need to replace both per the manual. When talking to Pep Boys and Kragen employees they say that the generic fluids are fine as long as it is for imports.
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Johndimsdale@gmail.com
February 4, 2013.



Cars have had stickers on the engines since the 1950s that say to use the manufacturer's products. If that were always true, there would be no products for sale at Walmart, hardware stores, and auto parts stores. Owner's manuals normally specify their brands, "or equivalent". Automatic transmission fluids do have different additives to meet certain requirements but that usually has to do with the comfort and characteristics of up-shifts. Power steering fluids can be different but you can be sure there will be aftermarket brands that are the same. After all, Nissan doesn't make their own fluids. They buy them from outside suppliers just like everyone else does.

I shuddered when I read your post quickly the first time. I know you didn't say this but I have to point out to be absolutely certain you don't get any hint of a petroleum product mixed in with the brake fluid. No engine oil, transmission fluid, or power steering fluid. I don't even like to risk getting fingerprint oil mixed in. Contaminated brake fluid gets real expensive real fast, and it's a lot worse if you have anti-lock brakes. Some people have done much more severe damage by contaminating brake fluid than they prevented by replacing the fluid.

I've never heard of replacing power steering fluid as a maintenance item. I'd want an explanation before I did that. Power steering fluid normally lasts the life of the car. Perhaps there is some additive in yours that wears out over time but then I would question why they found the need for an additive no one else has ever needed.

Brake fluid is recommended to be replaced periodically because it absorbs moisture through the porous rubber flex hoses and when the cap is off the master cylinder. That moisture boils at a much lower temperature than brake fluid and can lead to a mushy pedal and brake fade under extreme braking conditions. That moisture can promote corrosion of metal parts too. You aren't going to prevent a lot of problems by replacing the brake fluid. The steel lines may rust slower from the inside but 99 percent of the rust occurs from the outside.

We read about replacing brake fluid causing more problems than what it prevents, particularly if someone pushes the brake pedal all the way to the floor. Once the car gets to be more than year old, crud builds up in the bottoms of the bores where the pistons normally don't travel. Running the pedal to the floor runs the lip seals over that crud and can rip them. The same thing happens when you are suddenly surprised by a leak and push the pedal all the way down. Often that damage to the master cylinder doesn't show up for a few days, then it causes a slowly sinking pedal when you hold steady pressure on it. To be safe, never push the pedal more than half way to the floor. Better yet, loosen the cap on the master cylinder to prevent vacuum from preventing the fluid from flowing freely, open one bleeder screw, and let the fluid run out on its own. Fill the reservoir just before it gets empty. When clear fluid starts coming out at the bleeder screw, close it and move on to the next wheel and do the same thing. This way you'll never allow air to get into the system and you won't risk damaging the master cylinder.

Caradiodoc
Feb 5, 2013.