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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Technical Forums > Mechanical Maintenance: Break-in / Oil & Fluids / Servicing / Warranty > Power Steering Fluid Confusion



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      06-29-2015, 06:42 PM   #1
Judge Dredd
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Power Steering Fluid Confusion

I'm having a really difficult time determining what type of fluid (11S or ATF) to use for my 2006 E90 330 (without active steering).

First of all: fuck the sticker. I don't have a sticker, but apparently there's a chance it was removed/or came off at some point in the last nine years.

I went to BMW and the nice employee gave me a bottle of red stuff to use (ATF). Then I opened the cap and dipped a paper towel in the reservoir to see what color is already in there. The tip of the paper towel in the pic is the color in the reservoir.

I've been told CHF-11S is a very definite green in color, rather than the piss-color I have on the end of this paper towel (which, disturbingly, looks like brake fluid).

I don't know what to do and would be extremely grateful for any insight.
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      06-30-2015, 06:19 AM   #2
Efthreeoh
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It uses CHF-11. Dumbass BMW put a green sticker over the reservoir cap. The cap has "ATF" stamped (molded) in it. So when the sticker falls off it gets confusing. All '06 N52's use CHF-11. It is a deep green color when new. Used it comes out looking like root beer. Pull one of the hoses at the steering rack to drain the system and refill with CHF-11.
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      06-30-2015, 08:04 AM   #3
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CHF-11S is definately green... ATF is definately red...

Unfortunately, both turn brown after being used. I would contact a dealership and see if they can definatively tell you one way or the other.

And someone needs to report this crap to NHTSA. Changing a fluid and then not permanately removing misleading information from the engine is probably a good candidate for a recall considering it is the power steering system.
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      06-30-2015, 11:05 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greyfox
CHF-11S is definately green... ATF is definately red...

Unfortunately, both turn brown after being used. I would contact a dealership and see if they can definatively tell you one way or the other.

And someone needs to report this crap to NHTSA. Changing a fluid and then not permanately removing misleading information from the engine is probably a good candidate for a recall considering it is the power steering system.
Thanks for the reply. I did speak with the dealership and they gave me the same information I found online in my two days of research: use what the cap says but actually don't use what the cap says because there may have been a sticker over the cap that said something different.
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      06-30-2015, 11:29 AM   #5
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If you are really that concerned you can take a sample and send to Blackstone, I'm pretty sure they can tell you which fluid came out. Unfortunately, unless you are the original owner, that doesn't guarantee its correct.

If its any consolation, I HAD the green sticker. It came off the 2nd time I messed with the reservoir, and my fluid is pretty similar in color to yours. I would say its probably CHF11S.
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      06-30-2015, 11:32 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajaye
If you are really that concerned you can take a sample and send to Blackstone, I'm pretty sure they can tell you which fluid came out. Unfortunately, unless you are the original owner, that doesn't guarantee its correct.

If its any consolation, I HAD the green sticker. It came off the 2nd time I messed with the reservoir, and my fluid is pretty similar in color to yours. I would say its probably CHF11S.
I am indeed that concerned because I don't want to ruin a $600 pump over a $20 fluid.

Thank you for the info.

Is there anyone who wouldn't mind taking a quick picture of the color of their semi-old ATF or CHF?

I've seen a few threads with used CHF - it's completely black. I've yet to see any used ATF.
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      06-30-2015, 01:00 PM   #7
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OP this is being way over thought. The car uses CHF-11. Here is the CHF-11 label for the cap. Note the applicability... all 2006 E90s. BMW would not produce similar models that use different powersteering fluids; it would be a parts and logistics nightmare. The car uses CHF-11.
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      06-30-2015, 01:02 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Efthreeoh
Okay, this is being way over thought. The car uses CHF-11. Here is the CHF-11 label for the cap. Note the applicability... all 2006 E90s. BMW would not produce similar models that use different powersteering fluids; it would be a parts and logistics nightmare. The car uses CHF-11.
You've mentioned that in other threads and believe me I really do appreciate your advice, but what about all the people using ATF?
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      06-30-2015, 10:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Judge Dredd View Post
You've mentioned that in other threads and believe me I really do appreciate your advice, but what about all the people using ATF?
They are wrong. You need to understand something about manufacturing a product. The least expensive way to manufacture a mass produced product is to use conformity of parts (thank Eli Whitney), which in this case means conformity of parts (i.e. the power steering pump and steering rack) that use the same hydraulic fluid, CHF-11. That's the reason why I showed you on realoem that the part number for the cap sticker is used on every E90 from 2004 (it's first ear of manufacture for Europe) to 2013 the last model year for the E93.

BMW, nor any other manufacturer, would never produce a car on a continuous assembly line that uses different pumps and racks that have requirements for different hydraulic fluid. It would be far to difficult to keep track of which cars use which parts and increases the logistics of keeping parts in stock by a factor of two. Read - way too expensive. So the simple issue here is that for some reason BMW decided to make the cap (part) for the E90 that uses CHF-11 by applying a sticker over the molded-in fluid requirements (i.e. ATF). BMW uses that power steering reservoir on many many of its various models, some which use ATF for power steering fluid. In fact BMW has been using that reservoir since the mid 1980's (my 1989 E30 had the exact same power steering reservoir - and uses ATF). Porsche 924s and 944 use the same reservoir too. The sticker comes off; surprise, stickers don't do well in oil-rich environments like a power steering reservoir caps that have vent systems in them, which release oil vapor under pressure. So the sticker comes off, which is why there is a separate part number for it. Get a new sticker. Clean the cap with brake clean and denatured alcohol, replace the sticker and change the oil with CHF-11.

Your car uses CHF-11. You are way over analyzing this and listening to people who don't know what they are talking about. The CHF-11 is green when new and changes color over time as deposits build up in it. I've been wrenching on BMWs for over 35 years, so I know pretty well how they are built, and I have a degree in manufacturing engineering. I've drained and flushed my power steering system twice to the level of opening the transfer pipe and blowing shop air through the rack to get every last drop of fluid out (yeah I know anal). Your car uses CHF-11.
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A manual transmission can be set to "comfort", "sport", and "track" modes simply by the technique and speed at which you shift it; it doesn't need "modes", modes are for manumatics that try to behave like a real 3-pedal manual transmission. If you can money-shift it, it's a manual transmission.

Last edited by Efthreeoh; 06-30-2015 at 10:11 PM.
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      06-30-2015, 10:44 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Efthreeoh
Quote:
Originally Posted by Judge Dredd View Post
You've mentioned that in other threads and believe me I really do appreciate your advice, but what about all the people using ATF?
They are wrong. You need to understand something about manufacturing a product. The least expensive way to manufacture a mass produced product is to use conformity of parts (thank Eli Whitney), which in this case means conformity of parts (i.e. the power steering pump and steering rack) that use the same hydraulic fluid, CHF-11. That's the reason why I showed you on realoem that the part number for the cap sticker is used on every E90 from 2004 (it's first ear of manufacture for Europe) to 2013 the last model year for the E93.

BMW, nor any other manufacturer, would never produce a car on a continuous assembly line that uses different pumps and racks that have requirements for different hydraulic fluid. It would be far to difficult to keep track of which cars use which parts and increases the logistics of keeping parts in stock by a factor of two. Read - way too expensive. So the simple issue here is that for some reason BMW decided to make the cap (part) for the E90 that uses CHF-11 by applying a sticker over the molded-in fluid requirements (i.e. ATF). BMW uses that power steering reservoir on many many of its various models, some which use ATF for power steering fluid. In fact BMW has been using that reservoir since the mid 1980's (my 1989 E30 had the exact same power steering reservoir - and uses ATF). Porsche 924s and 944 use the same reservoir too. The sticker comes off; surprise, stickers don't do well in oil-rich environments like a power steering reservoir caps that have vent systems in them, which release oil vapor under pressure. So the sticker comes off, which is why there is a separate part number for it. Get a new sticker. Clean the cap with brake clean and denatured alcohol, replace the sticker and change the oil with CHF-11.

Your car uses CHF-11. You are way over analyzing this and listening to people who don't know what they are talking about. The CHF-11 is green when new and changes color over time as deposits build up in it. I've been wrenching on BMWs for over 35 years, so I know pretty well how they are built, and I have a degree in manufacturing engineering. I've drained and flushed my power steering system twice to the level of opening the transfer pipe and blowing shop air through the rack to get every last drop of fluid out (yeah I know anal). Your car uses CHF-11.
Again I appreciate your advice and was not intending to imply that you were wrong or giving me bad information or anything. I'm simply being selfish and trying to get 100% what was right for the car.

You turned out to be 100% right. It takes CHF-11. I looked through all the service records. The most recent it has been flushed was in January 2010, at which point they used CHF-11. I bought the car in October 2013, so I doubt it was flushed again between 1/2010 and 10/2013. I just flushed it myself using CHF-11, and thanks to your insight and the service records I am now 100% confident I used the correct fluid, so I would like to thank you very much.

Let this be a lesson to anyone who is confused like I was: if your cap says ATF, you may have had the sticker and you should do more research before putting in ATF. :-)

Thanks to all for the help!
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      07-27-2015, 08:00 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Efthreeoh View Post
They are wrong. You need to understand something about manufacturing a product. The least expensive way to manufacture a mass produced product is to use conformity of parts (thank Eli Whitney), which in this case means conformity of parts (i.e. the power steering pump and steering rack) that use the same hydraulic fluid, CHF-11. That's the reason why I showed you on realoem that the part number for the cap sticker is used on every E90 from 2004 (it's first ear of manufacture for Europe) to 2013 the last model year for the E93.

BMW, nor any other manufacturer, would never produce a car on a continuous assembly line that uses different pumps and racks that have requirements for different hydraulic fluid. It would be far to difficult to keep track of which cars use which parts and increases the logistics of keeping parts in stock by a factor of two. Read - way too expensive. So the simple issue here is that for some reason BMW decided to make the cap (part) for the E90 that uses CHF-11 by applying a sticker over the molded-in fluid requirements (i.e. ATF). BMW uses that power steering reservoir on many many of its various models, some which use ATF for power steering fluid. In fact BMW has been using that reservoir since the mid 1980's (my 1989 E30 had the exact same power steering reservoir - and uses ATF). Porsche 924s and 944 use the same reservoir too. The sticker comes off; surprise, stickers don't do well in oil-rich environments like a power steering reservoir caps that have vent systems in them, which release oil vapor under pressure. So the sticker comes off, which is why there is a separate part number for it. Get a new sticker. Clean the cap with brake clean and denatured alcohol, replace the sticker and change the oil with CHF-11.

Your car uses CHF-11. You are way over analyzing this and listening to people who don't know what they are talking about. The CHF-11 is green when new and changes color over time as deposits build up in it. I've been wrenching on BMWs for over 35 years, so I know pretty well how they are built, and I have a degree in manufacturing engineering. I've drained and flushed my power steering system twice to the level of opening the transfer pipe and blowing shop air through the rack to get every last drop of fluid out (yeah I know anal). Your car uses CHF-11.
This means that my e91 320d 2006 are using 11s eve if the cap says ATF? Haha, I just need to be 100 % sure. And just another quick question - what can happen if the wrong oil is being used?
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      07-27-2015, 09:34 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by larsE91 View Post
This means that my e91 320d 2006 are using 11s eve if the cap says ATF? Haha, I just need to be 100 % sure. And just another quick question - what can happen if the wrong oil is being used?
Look it up on realOEM.com like I did.

If the wrong fluid is used, something can break.
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A manual transmission can be set to "comfort", "sport", and "track" modes simply by the technique and speed at which you shift it; it doesn't need "modes", modes are for manumatics that try to behave like a real 3-pedal manual transmission. If you can money-shift it, it's a manual transmission.
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