I recently noticed my brother topping off the fluids in his Camaro. When he added to the power steering, he used automatic transmission fluid. He says it's the same as power steering fluid. Is he correct or could there be a problem in the future?
Twenty years ago your brother would have been correct, but not today. Back then automatic transmission fluid and power steering fluid was pretty much the same thing. But the demands of modern day transmissions and power steering systems require different fluid characteristics and detergents. There are still a few models out there where the two system fluids are interchangeable. But always check your owner's manual, or better yet, inquire at a dealership part's department. They'll no of any fluid updates since the owner's manual went to print. It's a no brainer. Why take the chance?
You didn't give me the year of your brother's car, but here's an example. For a 1993 Chevy Camaro, General Motors recommends Dextron IIE transmission fluid in the transmission, power steering fluid part number 1052884 (16oz bottle) in the power steering, and PS fluid part number 12345866 (16oz bottle) in climates which dip below 10 degrees F.
I suggest your brother drain and refill the power steering system with the designated fluid. The best way to empty the reservoir is to disconnect a hose, drain completely, then reattach the hose and fill. After that, start the engine and turn the steering wheel back and forth, from stop to stop several times, then drain and refill. This process will flush the system thoroughly and prevent a possible premature failure of the power steering pump caused by contaminated or incorrect fluid. Also remember, do not ever use power steering fluid in an automatic transmission. The damage may be quicker, more severe and more expensive.