Power trim fluid in gear lube container

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Power trim fluid in gear lube container

Postby richH » Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:39 pm

I accidentally topped off my gear lube with approx. 2-3 ounces of Mercruiser power trim and steering fluid. It is late in the season. I will likely winterize and replace fluids at the beginning of Nov. and will maybe put 5-10 more hours on my boat between now and then What are the differences between the gear lube and this and can this cause me any issues? (I have a mercruiser 350 mag.)
Last edited by richH on Sun Oct 07, 2018 4:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Power trip fluid in gear lube container

Postby SGilbert » Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:55 pm

I have no idea what 'power trip' is, but, assuming you have a resovoir on your engine, get a turkey baster and remove it before it contaminates your gear lube. Then top off with the correct lube.
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Re: Power trip fluid in gear lube container

Postby richH » Sun Oct 07, 2018 4:31 pm

Sorry, meant Power Trim and Steering Fluid. I filled the gear lube while I was out on the water so if it is a case of contamination I already ran the engine to return to the dock. Would the turkey baster still work? Is it really necessary given the amount I time I will be using before winterization and replacing the fluids?
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Re: Power trim fluid in gear lube container

Postby Bt Doctur » Sun Oct 07, 2018 6:01 pm

Bigger question is where did those few oz`s of oil go?
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Re: Power trim fluid in gear lube container

Postby Chris_in_Texas » Sun Oct 07, 2018 7:38 pm

Well I can say that basically the power trim fluid is normally a ATF type fluid which is very thin viscosity. Its nowhere like a gear lube for sure. Myself I would remove it for sure and not run it, drain and refill. Merc has very specific warnings between the two lower unit gear lubes on NOT to even mix them. Their high performance gear lube is a straight SAE-90 weight oil. With the different chemical compositions I for sure wouldn't let them mix for that long.

Also BT doctur has a good question, where did the other go? That means you have a leak somewhere, which is bad as well, as heat and cooling can pull water back into the case as well if oil can get out. Also rubber seals could get eaten up potentially by the trim/steering fluid as well, depending on the type.
Thanks, Chris

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Re: Power trim fluid in gear lube container

Postby richH » Mon Oct 08, 2018 10:48 am

This is the third boat I have owned and I have had to top off the gear lube ever year in every boat I have owned. Perhaps I am wrong about the amount and it was actually less. It just felt like I was putting a couple of ounces in. Generally this is what I have seen:

* Have boat winterized and check level. Looks correct.
* Run boat for a month or two. Check gear lube level. Drops slightly below full line so I top it off

I bought two of my boats new and saw this behavior. This one I bought used and see the same.
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Re: Power trim fluid in gear lube container

Postby lg260ss » Mon Oct 08, 2018 11:24 am

richH wrote:This is the third boat I have owned and I have had to top off the gear lube ever year in every boat I have owned. Perhaps I am wrong about the amount and it was actually less. It just felt like I was putting a couple of ounces in. Generally this is what I have seen:

* Have boat winterized and check level. Looks correct.
* Run boat for a month or two. Check gear lube level. Drops slightly below full line so I top it off

I bought two of my boats new and saw this behavior. This one I bought used and see the same.


That is considered normal for a Merc Bravo 3.
When the oil is changed, a little air can get into the system. Once run for a while the air pockets are filled by what is in the reservoir.


I would, at a minimum, pump out the reservoir and fill it with the correct oil. If it hadn't been run long since adding the wrong oil, it's probably still in there. The oil in the reservoir needs to drop through a hose before it gets into the drive and it may be floating on top of the oil beneath it.
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Re: Power trim fluid in gear lube container

Postby gofast24 » Mon Oct 08, 2018 11:26 am

Agree with both replies! Why dont you just disconnect the hose that goes to the lower unit "gear lube" bottle, empty it, then fill it back up with the proper 90W Merc Gear lube ? Actually , nothing should flow from the gear lube bottle to the lower unit unless there is/was a leak causing the lube to fill back into the lower unit so most likely you dont have any ATF that contaminated the lower units gear lube? Yes, during operation the lower unit gear lube will expand a little when getting warm/hot and push up some lube into the bottle and then when the lube cools off a little will get sucked back into the lower unit but that shouldnt be more than a once or two, I wouldn't worry about that little volume if it were me.
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Re: Power trim fluid in gear lube container

Postby richH » Mon Oct 08, 2018 5:08 pm

I ran the boat maybe 45 minutes after my idiot moment. So based on previous advice, I went with the turkey baster approach and removed all the fluid I could from the container and put in the proper gear lube. Called a mechanic just in case and he said that this approach should work as he will be winterizing in month or so. He did keep saying though...."I don't know what that stuff would do to the seals." That stuff being the mercruiser trim fluid.

That makes me a little uneasy still. Tried to find other references like this online and couldn't find one other person who made this mistake. That's me... inventing a new kind of dumb.

Thanks everybody.
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Re: Power trim fluid in gear lube container

Postby gofast24 » Tue Oct 09, 2018 11:32 am

My thoughts= Most likely the ATF is less dense than the 90W gear lube so it should (like oil or gas on water) float on top of the SAE 90 lube in the bottle. Not too sure how the ATF and gear lube might mix but think you would have to shake it up like a bottle of oil and water to get any mixing? I would just stick with what you did to suck out the ATF and not worry about it. Worst case have the lower units completely drained and re fil with the 90W Merc gear lube to have peace of mind, may be time to do that full lube change anyway?
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Re: Power trim fluid in gear lube container

Postby Chris_in_Texas » Tue Oct 09, 2018 4:29 pm

So both Dextron III and SAE 90W are the same specific gravity (0.88), so in theory they would mix. So depending on what other things are in the Merc version of the fluid, could be more or less.
Thanks, Chris

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Re: Power trim fluid in gear lube container

Postby gofast24 » Thu Oct 11, 2018 11:24 am

Probably correct, just didn't think about looking for the SG/density of the the two fluids. Still have to wonder how something close to grease would have the same specific gravity as ATF? I can check that later, not arguing with you :)
Still believe the OP should just drain the surge tank totally and then have the lower unit draind and refilled with the Merc SAE 90W lube for winter storage.
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