Stop! First read the previous post.

Ok, now that’s sorted you probably realise that putting screen wash in the power steering was a pretty stupid thing to do, I have my excuses and it could happen to anyone. Tiredness and poor labelling are my excuses. Take my ford, every user serviceable part is yellow and has pictures AND words. The Clio has 3 items in yellow; the one that isn’t yellow has a black lid and black picture and is the screenwash tank. The power steering cap has a rectangle and a steering wheel, so to my sleep numbed brain it looked like a picture of the windscreen with a little wheel behind it. So I fill it with screen wash. Expecting it not to overflow so quickly I released what I did pretty quickly. The AA said sorry pal that’s not a roadside fix (yeah ok fair enough) you need to get it towed by the garage and get them to fix it (so the AA don’t tow you to a garage now?).

I spoke to my brother-in-law who was a service manager and now is a lead technician for a car firm and he said he’d help. Thing is that hardly anyone in the trade seems to have fixed anything like this so we ran the engine, yeah I know people say don’t run the engine when you do something like this, but that’s petrol in a diesel engine, when you put water in oil it goes straight to the bottom and through the tubes, no stopping it, so running it didn’t hurt.

Well we checked the fluid and it was bright pink, thing is screen wash is not just water its detergent so the oil and water emulsified. At least it was going to be easy to see when it was clear.

The first approach was like that of bleeding the system you siphon it and add more and run it lock to lock and see, eventually we would dilute it. We did this for a bit and ran out of new fluid to add. It was no better. It obviously was but not really it was still bright pepto-bismol pink. I would look on the internet and buy more fluid, 5litres of it, tomorrow and try again.

I found some info on the internet, obviously selling things but it gave me a bit of knowledge and certainly informed me enough to ask the right questions.

The next morning I rang some local garages, most would not touch it, the larger chains certainly and who would blame them, its sounds a big job and no one had the machinery mentioned on the net. The best was a tiny garage, thats a big job mate it will take at least five goes, not something we want to do again, you pull the pipes at the bottom of the rack and drain it. We did a Laguna over and over but it still never ran clear. If you read the internet page you can figure out why, doing it that way will not empty the entire system in one go. So it will take time and not run clear.

So next morning I’m doing the siphon and top-up thing but its not having any effect and the brother-in-law turns up and I tell him the lubegard way.

So we first siphon out all the remaining antacid and turn the key on and off to find the return pipe, (THIS IS NOT RECOMMENDED IT MAKES A GREAT PINK FOUNTAIN AND NEARLY TOOK OUT AN EYE), after this expert diagnosis we cleared the reservoir again with the best siphon kit in the world, a fish tank gravel siphon with auto start, it’s a normal tube but has a larger cylinder that plugs into it. This meant I could suck the larger end with no risk of a mouth full of gunk then pull the large piece off and drop the tube in the bucket.

Then remove the return pipe, block the down pipe of the reservoir with a piece of washing machine hose cut off, plugged with a large wooden dowel.

Take the siphon tube and wrap it in electrical tap and force it into the return pipe and place it in the bucket.

Now we topped up the reservoir with clean fluid.

I would then intermittently turn on the engine and turn it off, whilst turning the wheel from lock to lock. You cannot run the engine continuously as the pump empties the reservoir in just under 2 seconds. Then top up the tank again and repeat. Eventually the return pipe ran a lovely shade of transparent red.

Put it all back together again and test drive.

It Worked! I could not believe it, I was dreading the expense of having some garage attempt this, do half a job and charge me the earth. It took the sum total of an hour and a half and one 12 quid bottle of megaspares 4.5litre fluid, (not counting the 3.50 price of the siphon and the previous expensive halfords 1litre bottle of the earlier attempts).

I could not have achieved this without the help of my brother-in-law so all thanks to him, whilst ideas and research are my area of expertise, there is no way I would have managed to effectively implement this idea, I might have had a go but the fear of doing something to make it far worse is always there, it takes someone with practical experience on the ground to validate and follow through unproven techniques. Perhaps a lesson for anyone implementing a solution. Perhaps another lesson is don’t let me top up your car. Oil change anyone?

Legal:This is not a guide on how you do this, it is a story of how I did it. I can only recomend you take your car problems to a professional.  Just ensure the professional knows what they are doing before you give it to them.

Keywords:Clio, power steering, flush, water, contamination