An automobile needs a range of oils and fluids, from steering fluids, brake fluids to transmission oils. Thus, many people are often confused about their various and specific applications. Also, many people wonder if they can mix or interchange these various lubricants and fluids.
So, often we come across a question like, Can you mix power steering fluid? The interchanging and mixing questions also seem to be never-ending. The list includes-
- Can we mix different brands of steering fluids?
- Can we use steering fluid instead of brake fluids?
- Can you mix and use transmission and steering fluid?
The answer to these questions needs elaborate discussion, so it can’t be completed in a paragraph. Nonetheless, you must read this article if you plan to mix power steering fluid for different purposes.
Otherwise, you seriously run the risk of damaging the steering or engine parts, which can cost you dearly.
What Is Power Steering Fluid?
For cars and trucks, power steering fluid is pretty essential. It keeps the vehicle running. As the name suggests, the power steering fluid keeps the steering up and running so that you can steer and turn the vehicle effortlessly.
Using the steering fluid ensures that all the parts of the power steering, including the steering pump, valves, hose, and pistons, work seamlessly. It is a kind of hydraulic fluid. When applied, it links the front wheel with the steering wheel through a hydraulic connection.
So, you can turn the vehicle effortlessly with a slight turn of the power steering. As it lubricates all the moving parts of your power steering, it stops corrosion, damage and delays foaming to enhance the longer performance of the power steering and its components.
Types of Power Steering Fluids
When you plan to mix power steering fluids, you need to know about the difference between the power steering fluids. You will find mainly two types of power steering fluids. It includes-
- Synthetic power steering fluids
- Non-synthetic power steering fluids
The non-synthetic variant is made from mineral oil. It is generally accepted as a lower-quality power steering fluid as it isn’t refined. On the contrary, synthetic power steering fluids are made in labs and factories following the laboratory formula.
It doesn’t contain any mineral oilbase. A specific power steering fluid is designed to work with a specific car model or steering system. That’s why usually mixing different power steering fluids isn’t suggested by experts.
Last but not least, there is Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF). It is similar to the fluid you will usually use in the automatic transmission system of your automobile. Some experts recommend that you can use ATF instead of power steering fluids on some occasions.
The main characteristics of power steering fluids
When you need to change the power steering fluids for your car, you need to pick the best product. Thus, you need to focus on the properties of the power steering fluids.
A good-quality fluid should have the following properties-
- When it sucks air, the fluid must not produce any foaming.
- The fluid must include an anti-wear and tear feature to protect the parts of the power steering.
- The viscosity of the fluid must be thick enough to protect the power steering parts. Also, it needs to be constant irrespective of the ups and downs of the ambient temperature.
- Also, the temperature change must not affect it. The fluid needs to be incompressible.
- It should be free of any acidic elements to stop corrosion of the steering system.
- Last but not least, the power steering fluids must have a long service life. Experts suggest that you need to change it once every two years.
Can You Mix Power Steering Fluid?
So, now it’s time to answer the all-important question. Can we interchange or mix power steering fluids of different brands? Or can we mix it with automatic transmission fluid?
So, here goes the answer-
Both ATF and power steering fluid are nothing but hydraulic fluid. Hence, theoretically, you can mix power steering fluid with automatic transmission oil. But in reality, the scenario is a bit different.
Power steering and automatic transmission fluids have a difference in their material composition. So, their formula is also different.
Thus, when you mix them, the mixture may not meet the car’s power steering requirement. Also, the different material compositions may lead to problems for the power steering.
Also, modern-day automobiles are highly sensitive. Thus, manufacturers strictly prohibit mixing and using fluids and lubricants that they didn’t list or recommend in the user manual. But there’s still a piece of good news for you.
We found at least three brands that permit the mixing of power steering fluids with automatic transmission fluids.
So, you shouldn’t face any issues in mixing the power steering oil with ATF for these brands.
However, the list of car brands that restricts ATF swapping with power steering fluid is even longer. It includes-
- Mercedes Benz
So, in general, it is unsafe to mix automatic transmission oil with power steering fluids. Else, the power steering system may collapse and needs replacement or repairing, and it is costly.
Can You Use Brake Fluid Instead of Power Steering Fluid?
Many people keep asking us if they can swap power steering fluid with brake fluids for their cars. Well, we strongly discourage using brake fluids for your car’s power steering. Doing so will damage the steering system badly.
It is because power steering and brake fluids are entirely different in their composition. Power steering fluid contains 85% to 90% of lubricants, whereas brake fluid consists of 65% to 90% solvent mainly. Also, both have 2% to 5% of mixed additives. But their key material is different, and so, they don’t match the specific requirements.
Due to the low lubricating ability of brake fluids, it can’t lubricate and protect the power steering parts as effectively as the power steering specific fluid can. Also, its acidic feature may damage the parts permanently. You have to replace the parts of your automobile’s power steering system, and it is not cheap.
When Should I Change Power Steering Fluids?
Ideally speaking, power steering fluids don’t have an appropriate expiry date. However, it would be best if you didn’t keep them using years after years. It would make the steering system stiff, and you would find turning the car difficult.
As a thumb of rule, you should change the power steering fluid once every two years or for every 50000 miles. Also, you can inspect the fluid occasionally to find the physical signals changing the oil.
Generally, power steering fluids are light in color. If it turns black, it’s time you change it to help the power steering system perform well and allow you to turn the car effortlessly.
can i mix power steering fluid with transmission fluid? Technically it is possible to mix power steering fluids with automatic transmission fluid (ATF). But in practical life, it isn’t recommended. These days, cars are built with high sensitivity. So, you must follow the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) guideline.
Also, you must not use brake oils instead of the power steering fluids. Finally, using power steering fluids in place of ATF isn’t ideal as the fluids have oil, and it may cause leaks.