Can I Use Toyota Power Steering Fluid Instead of Dexron III? (Find out now)

Last Updated on February 9, 2023 by Leepu Da Maxim

You cannot use Toyota’s power steering fluid as a substitute for Dexron III. Both are hydraulic fluids, but Dexron III has detergents and additives that filter grease and dirt from the system. However, you can use Dexron III instead of power steering fluid. 

Key Takeaways

  • Dexron III is an automatic transmission fluid (ATF) with additives and detergents to filter dirt and grease from the suspension system
  • Dexron III has friction modifiers that can reduce excessive heat buildup
  • Power steering fluid creates a link between the steering wheel and the front wheels to reduce the effort of turning the wheels
  • You should keep in mind that the Toyota power steering fluid is only designed to be used in Toyota vehicles

What is a power steering fluid?

What is a power steering fluid

The power steering fluid is a hydraulic fluid used in a vehicle’s power steering system. This system utilizes engine power to reduce the effort required to turn your car’s wheels, thus giving you better control and handling of the vehicle. The power steering fluid is mostly pinkish, amber, or clear, with a distinct smell of burnt marshmallows.

The power steering fluid works by creating a hydraulic link between the steering wheel and the front wheels. This then reduces the effort required to turn the wheels significantly. It also lubricates every moving part within the steering system and prevents corrosion and foaming in the steering pump and power steering gear, thus optimally keeping the vehicle.

What is Dexron III?

What is Dexron III

Dexron III is a type of automatic transmission fluid (ATF) produced by General Motors (GM) since the 1940s. It is used to lubricate and cool the interior components of the transmission system, thus allowing a smooth transfer of power and proper function. Different vehicle makes, and models will require various types and specifications of automatic transmission fluid. The manufacturer usually advises which one to use. The two common types of ATF are Dexron and Marcon.

Dexron III  is red and has a distinct sweet smell when the ATF is due for changing; it has a burnt smell and may discolor or thicken.

According to the “fuels and lubricants handbook,” Dexron was created to reduce emissions and improve fuel efficiency. Dexron III was specifically designed to minimize oxidation and facilitate a smoother shifting while maintaining lower temperatures. The Dexron III ATF has a flashpoint of 177 degrees.

Dexron III contains detergents and rust or corrosion inhibitors that ensure your transmission system is free from foam and rust; thus, it’s working in an optimal state.

What can I use in place of Dexron III? (Substitutes for Dexron III)

Every vehicle comes with the specifications of the transmission fluid requirements from the manufacturer. Before you use any ATF, consult the owner’s manual for the needs of the specific vehicles. Most times, the right ATF will also be marked on the dipstick. 

If you have a Toyota, you can purchase the automatic transmission fluid from the dealership to be sure you are getting exactly what your car needs. Below is a list of different ATFs manufacturers recommend for their vehicle brands and models.

1. Toyota 

 Different Toyota models will have various needs for ATF, and the manufacturer gives options depending on the car you drive. Here are the various types of ATFs that can be used on Toyota cars and the models you can use them on:

  • WS ATF

Toyota’s world standard (WS) ATF is one of the newest generation transmission fluids available in the market. It is a product of ExxonMobil and has been improved and upgraded to be compatible with the upgraded transmissions. This ATF can be used in the following models: Landcruiser 2004 to present, four runners and Prius 2005 to present, tundra, Tacoma, Avalon Sequoia, Yaris, and Highlander.

  • Toyota ATF Type T-IV

If you have an older Toyota model, you might find that the owner’s manual recommends a transmission fluid that has been discontinued, such as the T, T-II, and T-III. If that’s the case for you, you don’t have to worry because the Toyota T-IV replaces these discontinued types and can be used as a substitute for them. It can be used in any old Toyota model that calls for the other discontinued types

  • Dexron III

All other Toyota models that have not been listed above and Lexus cars will call for Dexron III ATF. Dexron was created for GM vehicles, but it’s been picked up as the perfect choice for import transmissions due to its high performance and low viscosity. Toyota and most other Japanese transmission manufacturers are now making systems that run on Dexron. Always adhere to the manufacturer’s specifications of ATF. It is also worth noting that Dexron and WS ATF are not interchangeable 

2. Ford 

The original automatic transmission fluid by Ford was type F. some ford transmissions also use type H or type CJ, and these fluids are not interchangeable with each other or with other ford fluids. In 2010, ford introduced Mercon V as the newest ATF for their models. You will need Mercon SP fluid if your vehicle has a ford Torq shift transmission. Most Toyota and Lexus models can also use Ford’s type F automatic transmission fluid.

Honda and other imports

For Honda automatic transmissions, the Honda ZL TF is the best choice. BMW transmissions need BMW LT7114L or LA2634. For Nissan models, you can get the J-Matic fluid from the manufacturers, and for Mitsubishi, you can use either SP-II or SP-III

Can I use ATF for power steering?

Yes, you can use any automatic transmission fluid in your power steering pump when you’re in a fix. Both are hydraulic fluids, and the steering system is hydraulic.

What is Dexron III compatible with?

According to GM, the only fluid compatible with Dexron III is the replacement Dexron VI. The automaker later authorized licensing to some companies listed on their website to make the fluid according to their specifications.

When should you change the power steering fluid?

The surest way to know when your power steering fluid should be changed is to follow the original manufacturer’s guidelines. As a general rule, the power steering fluid should be replaced every 50,000 miles or five years. Your car might also show you signs that the power steering needs to be changed. Such symptoms include the presence of debris, dirt, or sludge in the power steering fluid, a whining noise when you turn the steering wheel, and difficulty turning the wheel. Changing the power steering wheel plays a significant role in prolonging the vehicle’s power steering system


Both power steering fluid and Dexron III or ATF are hydraulic fluids, and each one serves a different purpose. You can use ATF in the power steering system if you don’t have a power steering fluid at hand, but you can’t use a power steering fluid in the transmission system. This is because a transmission fluid needs to have detergents and other components that clean out the system and regulate the temperature. Before you substitute any product, find out the manufacturer’s specifications to avoid ruining your car’s features.