Out of LHM, O.K. to use ATF?
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  1. #1
    Fellow Frogger! Andy N's Avatar
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    Default Out of LHM, O.K. to use ATF?

    Hello
    Having assumed wrongly that the Hydraulic leak was fixed, I have got to the stage where I've used the last of the LHM without a drop on the garage floor!? Where'd it go?

    Note: A full diagnosis will be done in the next week when I have the resources and time to do it thoroughly. In the meantime my short-term solution is to put Dextron transmission fluid in the hydraulics as I have no LHM.
    I have searched the forum for info on the effects of ATF on hydraulics and talked at length with Peter at Pleiades who was very knowlegeable and helpful. I still have a few questions before I start pouring away.

    My questions are:

    1. Is it Dextron II or III that should be used? Or is there only one type?

    2. Does Dextron have friction enhancing properties and could this cause stickiness in the damper part of the suspension spheres or the height correctors?

    3. Does Dextron have detergent properties that could have a positive effect on cleaning the system?

    4. Should it be difficult to get all the Dextron out once I drain the system and switch back to pure LHM?

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    Cheers, Andy

  2. #2
    CitroŽn, what else? smiffy1071's Avatar
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    reading between the lines of some of Shanes posts, I would think that D3, is slightly abbraisive, and will act as a cleaning fluid in your system, but don't leave it in there too long.
    2005 C5 2.0 VTR Hdi 138, 1986 Kawasaki GPz 750G2

  3. #3
    Moderator Alan S's Avatar
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    I once had to use Dex3 to get me back from Gunnedah one Sunday in my CX.
    Result was that when I cleaned it out, it all came out very black looking. Don't know what it is with Dex3 but it seems to turn black almost as you look at it in anything alloy almost like rhubarb in an aluminium saucepan.
    I then gave it another dose for a week and again cleaned it out and again it was grotty looking.
    They used to say ATF could be used but this was pre Dex3 so I can't comment on whether it is any better or worse than any other.
    Other option and one preferred by others is a very light engine oil which when you think of it is a feasible option going on the rating of the engine oil (say SAE20 or 30 in comparison with LHM which to my way of thinking would be much thinner than any ATF.
    I should be heading Brisbane way in the next few days so if you want any LHM I can arrange to drop it down when I come if that's any help; problem is of course, how do you get to Brisbane.


    Alan S
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  4. #4
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    Default Hi Andy

    As you know I'm running ATF and I think its OK for a couple of thousand Ks, as yet I don't know if its the ATF affecting the height corrector or not but if it is it should be easy enough to free up once LHM is reintroduced.

    I am assuming that the brakes will also have to be bled when changing back from ATF.

    I think if you have no LHM and a leak that seems to be persisting and elusive ATF would be the way to go at least till you have the leak under control.

    Best place to buy is to take your own container to your local mechanic an buy it from him otherwise your going to pay about the same price as for LHM

    My uncles Ds was leaking LHM and didn't show on the garge floor as it was leaking out of the return boot on the rear. It must also be a return line problem with your CX me thinks.

    Try getting someone in the car with the motor running and with you looking under the car get them to work the brakes and steering, you may see a dribble or drip.



    Cooch

  5. #5
    Fellow Frogger! Andy N's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies
    I am still not quite sure about the Dextron considering Alan's experience and the possibility of it causing Cooch's height corrector to stick.
    I feel as if the hydraulics are sometimes sticking even now with LHM, so I don't want to aggravate the problem and end up with a black mess.
    Tonight I drove down town and the warning light was constantly flashing.
    I have heard nothing bad about engine oil and so I will be putting that in tomorrow and for the next couple of weeks until I can find the leak. If it is out of my reach I will leave the car with a guy who will thoroughly sort out the problem. I'd be happy to mess around but I think it may be beyond my scope and I've messed around with things enough already and really just want it to run now.

  6. #6
    Too many posts! JohnW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy N
    Thanks for the replies
    I am still not quite sure about the Dextron considering Alan's experience and the possibility of it causing Cooch's height corrector to stick.
    I feel as if the hydraulics are sometimes sticking even now with LHM, so I don't want to aggravate the problem and end up with a black mess.
    Tonight I drove down town and the warning light was constantly flashing.
    I have heard nothing bad about engine oil and so I will be putting that in tomorrow and for the next couple of weeks until I can find the leak. If it is out of my reach I will leave the car with a guy who will thoroughly sort out the problem. I'd be happy to mess around but I think it may be beyond my scope and I've messed around with things enough already and really just want it to run now.
    My CX had been run on Dexron for quite a while before I bought it. It has been changed back to LHM now, but I'm not aware of any particular problems caused by the Dexron and it was cheaper while leaks persisted!

    I decided eventually that maybe Citroen would have used Dexron if it was OK in their view but they didn't....... So I changed back. However, my limited experience suggests that Dexron isn't a major problem for a while. Others apparently think it is OK for more than a while..
    JohnW

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  7. #7
    CitroŽn, what else? smiffy1071's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy N
    Thanks for the replies
    .
    I have heard nothing bad about engine oil and so I will be putting that in tomorrow and for the next couple of weeks until I can find the leak. :
    Have no fear with that, the owners manual does say you can use engine oil if need be, but you must remember to do a hydro-flush before putting LHM back in. john s
    2005 C5 2.0 VTR Hdi 138, 1986 Kawasaki GPz 750G2

  8. #8
    Fellow Frogger! Andy N's Avatar
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    G'day
    A bottle of Dextron III was given to me today by a mate that doesn't have an auto anymore.
    I've put a litre into the reservoir and I'll be taking it for a spin now.
    I also have ramps now so I can get under the car more safely and with more room to spare.
    I expect to use all the dextron up within the next month unless I can fix the leak sooner. It isn't an ideal situation so I will be spending a fair bit of time on it this week I reckon.
    Andy

  9. #9
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    Some people have been running there cars on ATF for extended periods without problems, but you would need one without any friction modifiers in it. From memory, Ford transmissions required some friction component in the fluid to work properly. I'm not sure which fluids do and which don't, for that reasson I would suggest thin engine oil.

    To clean it out afterwards, you would need to flush LHM or a cleaning agent through the system, bleeding it through the brakes, steering etc to get it all out.
    This process is described in detail on the CCCV website among other places.

    I have used diesel fuel in the hydraulics on my D for a short time to clean it out, ran the car for 300 km or so, and appears not to have affected the hydraulics.

  10. #10
    Fellow Frogger! Andy N's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by petermelb
    Some people have been running there cars on ATF for extended periods without problems, but you would need one without any friction modifiers in it. From memory, Ford transmissions required some friction component in the fluid to work properly. I'm not sure which fluids do and which don't, for that reasson I would suggest thin engine oil.

    To clean it out afterwards, you would need to flush LHM or a cleaning agent through the system, bleeding it through the brakes, steering etc to get it all out.
    This process is described in detail on the CCCV website among other places.

    I have used diesel fuel in the hydraulics on my D for a short time to clean it out, ran the car for 300 km or so, and appears not to have affected the hydraulics.
    Thanks for that Peter
    The ATF appears to be going O.K. although the leak is getting worse and I wonder if the ATF has aggravated the problem. I really haven't got time to ascertain where the leak is until the weekend but it is holding together for now!
    Andy

  11. #11
    Fellow Frogger! Jack Z's Avatar
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    Andy,

    I wouldn't be using Dexron III given what it does to ZF transmissions. I am guessing the level of Friction Modifiers would be very high and not good for the seals in the hydraulic system.

    I have used Castrol TQF in the past with no long term conseuqences and this is quite cheap to buy.. it is also what i use in the C-matic and that needs a mild fluid given its age and design but a very thin mineral based engine oil still seems to be the most favoured...

    Hope it all works out for you..

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  12. #12
    Real cars have hydraulics DoubleChevron's Avatar
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    Hi Guys,

    there are DS's and CX's in the USA that have been running Dexron for years .... basically since the 70's. Being a mineral oil it will not damage the hydraulic system or seals. However what it appears to do in the long term is cause microscopic wear to the hydraulic components ... This means you cannot then revert back to the thinner LHM as everything leaks (internally) to the point where the hydraulic pump will be constantly running.

    By long term I mean years/decades/100,000's of miles. I imagine use for a few weeks would hurt nothing, infact it appears to be a good flush as the dexron must have detergents (and being thicker holds crap in suspension for longer, returning it to the reseviour to be caputred by the filters).

    I'd use it "to get me home" without a thought. However you have to weigh up the cost benfits. To get you home is fine, however you will then need to flush the dexron out with LHM... ie: will need to do probably 2LHM changes ... That's probably 6 or 7 litres of LHM so isn't really cheap.

    seeya,
    Shane L.
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  13. #13
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    My researches indicate shell Tellus LHM would be an ok temporary substitute. it seems to be readily available from marine dealers etc. I haven't used it myself as yet.

  14. #14
    Tadpole Alan Macoustra's Avatar
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    RE;Lhm oil compatibility with Dexron2/3. Some M/benz models have rear self-levelling suspension others w116 6.9/w126 560s etc. have full hydraulic susp. They all run a special hydraulic oil which is not compatible with ATF. This oil is available from SilverStars in Kingsgrove or South Yarra Autoparts Sydney and Melboune. Hope this is of some help[.
    To Ride Is Human To Glide Is Divine

  15. #15
    Real cars have hydraulics DoubleChevron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Macoustra
    RE;Lhm oil compatibility with Dexron2/3. Some M/benz models have rear self-levelling suspension others w116 6.9/w126 560s etc. have full hydraulic susp. They all run a special hydraulic oil which is not compatible with ATF. This oil is available from SilverStars in Kingsgrove or South Yarra Autoparts Sydney and Melboune. Hope this is of some help[.
    If it's not compatible with Dexron, it may not be a mineral oil. I'd suggest caution until you know what the oil is.

    seeya,
    Shane L.
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    '63 ID19 http://www.aussiefrogs.com/forum/showthread.php?t=90325
    '72 DS21 ie 5spd pallas (last looked at ... about 15years ago)
    '78 GS1220 pallas
    '92 Range Rover Classic ... 5spd manual.

    Yay ... No Slugomatics


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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleChevron
    Hi Guys,

    there are DS's and CX's in the USA that have been running Dexron for years .... basically since the 70's. Being a mineral oil it will not damage the hydraulic system or seals. However what it appears to do in the long term is cause microscopic wear to the hydraulic components ... This means you cannot then revert back to the thinner LHM as everything leaks (internally) to the point where the hydraulic pump will be constantly running.

    By long term I mean years/decades/100,000's of miles. I imagine use for a few weeks would hurt nothing, infact it appears to be a good flush as the dexron must have detergents (and being thicker holds crap in suspension for longer, returning it to the reseviour to be caputred by the filters).

    I'd use it "to get me home" without a thought. However you have to weigh up the cost benfits. To get you home is fine, however you will then need to flush the dexron out with LHM... ie: will need to do probably 2LHM changes ... That's probably 6 or 7 litres of LHM so isn't really cheap.

    seeya,
    Shane L.
    My 1997 Xantia VSX had what was most likely ATF in it (same bright red colour) when I got it a few months ago, for who knows how long. When I drained and flushed the system and filled it up with LHM, I discovered two things:

    One is that they DONT mix with each other, the LHM floats on the top of the ATF (or whatever it was) making the oil in the tank look green when you shone a torch in the hole, but looking at a sample of oil in a jar revealed a few mm's of green floating at the top of a sea of red.

    The second thing is that it was FULL of black suspended micro-particles of some kind. (Like floating grit) Whether they were some kind of friction enhancer in the oil, or whether the oil had somehow scoured some of the piping or hydraulic blocks, I don't know. I've never seen anything like that before, as normally the grit looks different and sinks to the bottom of the tank and stays there under the sludge trap plate.

    A month later when I took the front height corrector out to investigate correction overshoot I found the height corrector was fairly well seized up thanks to being clogged up with this grit. (In the damper port etc)

    After cleaning it out it is ok now, (and the grit may be just as much due to lack of changes for all I know) but I wouldn't recommend it for a long term solution.

    To be honest I didn't really notice any problems at the time that couldn't be attributable to something else, but I did notice the car comes up to pressure and lifts MUCH faster since changing it back to LHM.

    So my verdict would be don't use Dexron III at all due to the friction enhancers (and strange reaction that causes it to go black) but Dexron II, based on it having been in my car for at least 3 months, is probably perfectly ok as a TEMPORARY substitute but definately replace it with LHM for the long term....

    I suspect if ATF really was perfectly alright for the job Citroen would have just used it, rather than working with Total to develop LHM specifically for Citroen hydraulic systems...and although LHM is a bit harder to find than ATF, its not really any cheaper. (LHM from a good indie Citroen supplier is about the same cost per litre as Dexron II over here)

    Regards,
    Simon
    Last edited by Mandrake; 10th November 2005 at 11:47 PM.

  17. #17
    Fellow Frogger! Andy N's Avatar
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    Default Major source of leak found!

    Hey Citroenists!
    So ATF may not be good. Guess what! I have almost used 4 litres of the stuff in a week and have large pools of the ATF/LHM mixture all over the garage floor.
    I put it on ramps today and found one of the other culprits, the spider/octopus joint located under the power steering governor (Haynes fig.18.2 p199) has perished.
    The whole thing has gone to s^%t and it was leaking from the hidden line facing down.
    I took the whole thing out and easily severed most of the rubber lines bar one.
    I will be replacing with a couple of brass pieces and fuel line with clamps as I did with the other T-piece.
    Poking around it appears that other rubber components are somewhat perished as well.
    Andy
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  18. #18
    1000+ Posts arunine's Avatar
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    I remember in Perth some years back, a young fellow telling me that he ran his DS on diesel (in the hydraulics), he said it gave a better ride.
    Living up north at the time and having run out of LHM I used diesel for a while, but I have also used ATF.
    I have even used water, but that was because the return from the regulator had split and I was in the middle of nowhere. I drained the system, flushed it twice and am now on LHM and have a supply.
    All this in the last 20 years that I have owned my DS.
    I now check that the metal part of the bottom radiator hose is not touching the steering rack pipes, and the pipe from the pump to the regulator is not touching the belts.
    Cheers.

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