Can I Use Brake Fluid For Power Steering Fluid?

Brake and power steering fluids are both hydraulic fluids used in various automobile vehicles. However, they have striking differences that make them not a substitute for each other but individual hydraulic fluid. So, can you use brake fluid for power steering? Definitely NO. Both fluids are poured into separate systems in your vehicle and are not manufactured with similar compositions, making them unique to their specific functions.

If these two hydraulic fluid forms are substituted with one another, the effects are dangerous to your vehicle, which you will know later on as you read this article. But note this fact, brake and power steering fluids are separate hydraulic fluids, and they function independently, so ignore any misconception or uncertainty about this and get this known.

Can I Use Brake Fluid For Power Steering Fluid?

Although brake fluid and power steering fluid share specific characteristics, they have many differences that cannot be ignored. If you attempt using your brake fluid as a substitute for your power steering fluid, the damages are high-level critical. You will run a risk of damaging your vehicle’s entire power steering system, which will incur a very high repair cost.

We will show you a summary of the disparity between these two types of hydraulic fluid.

Brake Fluid vs. Power Steering Fluid

1. Your brake fluid is a hydraulic fluid that steers up the various parts of your car’s brake system, including your hydraulic brake and clutch. The brake fluid acts as an anti-rust agent and a lubricant for the mobile parts of all automobiles, trucks, and bicycles. The power steering fluid is a hydraulic fluid, having a low viscosity used in your car’s power steering system. Its function is to add sufficient pressure to your pump, increasing the power steering system’s effectiveness.
2. Brake fluid helps to keep your car’s brake system functioning at high efficiency. Power Steering fluid functions are aimed at your steering wheel. The fluid improves your vehicle’s handling quality, giving you more control of the vehicle while driving.
3. This form of hydraulic fluid can be mineral oil, silicone, or glycol-ether-based. This fluid is petroleum-based.
4. The brake fluid is incompressible, having a very high boiling point, which makes it distinct. Although the power steering fluid has a high boiling point, it is compressible, and it has a low freezing point.
5. You should use the brake fluid in your car’s brake system only. Use this fluid only in your power steering system.
6. The brake fluid color is usually light yellow before use but changes to a brown color after a while. Power Steering Fluid Color can be yellow, amber, or pink before use but can give off a black color after some time.
7. This fluid is caustic, which implies that it has harsh effects when spilled over something else. For instance, it can wash off the bright paint on your vehicle and even damage your skin. This hydraulic fluid is not caustic, meaning it has no harsh effects on your skin.
8. The brake fluid consists of 4% to 29% of lubricant properties. So it is not a good lubricant. Power steering fluid consists of 86% to 92% lubricant; this makes it an excellent lubricant.

Read Also: Best Brake Fluid Testers Reviews and Complete Guide

So with these differences, if you are wondering, can you use transmission fluid for brake fluid? No way, don’t do that. Unlike the power steering fluid, there is practically no adequate substitute for your brake fluid.

can you use brake fluid for power steering

What happens if I use brake fluid for power steering?

The brake fluid in your power steering system causes damage to the gaskets, rubber hoses, and seals found in your vehicle’s power steering system. It causes swelling and leaking of the brake line and also makes other parts dissolve completely. This also causes complete failure of the power steering. You should know that when you pour brake fluid into the power steering system, you will start experiencing vehicle system issues in no time.

Pouring a small amount of brake fluid in the power steering reservoir, accidentally or not, will undoubtedly incur severe damage to your vehicle. You should use brake fluid for your brake system only. When emergencies arise or accidentally brake fluid is used in the power steering instead of steering fluid, drain fluid out immediately emergency is over.

Also, using brake fluid for power steering causes excessive wearing and tearing; it can also cause the steering pump to break down. It causes issues with your car break and also the steering pump. This is because your brake fluid is made of alcohol, and the pump needs a petroleum-based product like the steering fluid for lubrication.

The brake fluid in your power steering system is very detrimental to your car. Most especially when the brake fluid circulates in your steering system, it becomes tough to flush out. The longer your brake fluid stays in your power steering system, the greater the extent of the damage.

This leads to costly damages, mostly when the brake fluid is not taken out on time. Your power steering system will not move quickly. Due to the brake fluid’s corrosive nature, the steering system’s metallic surfaces will rust and wear out quickly, drastically reducing its durability status.

You should expect a complete failure of your brake system if you use your brake fluid to substitute your power steering fluid. This also goes for your brake system; you should not pour even a small amount of power steering fluid into the brake fluid reservoir.

How to Fix the problems caused by Brake fluid in the power steering

You already know by now that using your brake fluid in your power steering system should not be considered an option. This is mostly because the brake fluid is acidic and has low lubricating properties. But if you’ve already done or done this without knowing, then you need to flush your vehicle’s power steering system thoroughly, but can I use transmission fluid for power steering fluid? Yes, you can try that but ensure you check the vehicle’s manufacturer’s recommendation.

The detailed process of how to do this is shown below. But you should do this only when you are confident you will execute the whole process. If not, call for professional help.

When you realize you accidentally poured your brake fluid into your car’s power steering system. Do not turn on your car engine to drive to the mechanic’s shop or anywhere. Leave your car to remain at rest. This should reduce the extent of damage that could have occurred. Since you did not turn on your car engine, the brake fluid poured will rest inside the reservoir.

Get your mechanic tools box, open the reservoir of your power steering fluid, and suck out as much fluid as possible. Ensure you have a can to retain the fluid.

Lift your vehicle off the ground with your jack or car lift so your wheels aren’t touching the ground. You need to know how to use any of the lift options. If not, do not attempt using them. When your vehicle is lifted, turn your steering wheel around so more fluid will flow to the reservoir. Try to get it out of the reservoir. You can get a baster to help you out.

You now have to disconnect your low-pressure line. You can use the right screwdriver type to take off the clamp. After disconnecting, direct the line into a container and allow the brake fluid to drain out. While the brake fluid is draining out, turn your steering wheels to the left and right direction to help drain out more of the brake fluid.

When you notice there is little or no brake fluid left in your reservoir system. Pour in a new power steering fluid and allow it to drain out of the system into a can. You should do this about three times. When you finish this process, couple your power system back together and pour fresh power steering fluid into your reservoir.

You should be very careful while flushing out the brake fluid from your power steering system. If you do this correctly, you shouldn’t have to call a mechanic to help you out. It’s almost the same process a professional will take.

But in a situation where you’ve already driven your vehicle after pouring brake fluid into your car’s power steering system. You need to get your vehicle immediately to a mechanic to have the system flushed and also to fix any damage that could have happened. You might be thinking, can I use hydraulic fluid for power steering? Well, this depends on the type of hydraulic fluid. It is best to stick to the recommended fluid.

Final Words

Now you know the differences between these two forms of fluid, so if anyone asks, what can I use instead of power steering fluid? We always tell them to stick to the recommended fluid; we might provide any other safe alternative if any. With this knowledge, can you use brake fluid for power steering fluid? You know the answer already. Even if there are other available substitutions, always check your manufacturer’s manual before taking any action.

Osuagwu Solomon

Osuagwu Solomon is a certified mechanic with over a decade of experience in the mechanic garage, and he has over five years of experience in the writing industry. He started writing automotive articles to share his garage experience with car enthusiasts and armature mechanics. If he is not in the garage fixing challenging mechanical problems, he is writing automotive repair guides, buyer’s guides, and car and tools comparisons.

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