Sometimes you just might have transmission fluid and are lacking power steering fluid, then you start asking yourself “can I mix power steering fluid with transmission fluid’? This post will address all your concerns. And it will also show what is the difference between power steering fluid and transmission fluid so you know what do or not do with each fluid. If you just can you use power steering fluid for transmission fluid inter-changeably.
Below the Sub-areas we will cover in this article:
- What is the Power Steering Fluid
- Why Power Steering Flush is Essential
- Properties of Power Steering Fluid
- Why Automatic Transmission Fluid is Essential
- Main Difference between Power Steering Fluid and Automatic Transmission Fluid
- Can Power Steering Fluid be mixed with Transmission Fluid
With those, the in mind let get started with this article.
Can you Mix Power Steering Fluid with Transmission Fluid? ( can you use power steering fluid for transmission fluid )
Owning a car comes with some responsibilities, and you have to ensure you give your vehicle the right care and maintenance for it to function efficiently.
Your regular car maintenance involves you flushing the fluid of brake, transmission, radiator, and the engine. Apart from the above-mentioned parts, the power steering also needs flushing. But is it wise to mix power steering fluids with the transmission fluids?
Most people are wary that mixing the two fluids may damage the components of the power steering.
If the two fluids have the same properties, then mixing them may not cause any problem.
In this article, we shall be discussing in details the difference between the power steering fluids and the transmission fluids, and the possibility of mixing both fluids.
Before answering your question “can I mix power steering fluid with transmission fluid” let’s first take a look at What is the Power Steering Fluid?
can you use power steering fluid for transmission fluid
What is the Power Steering Fluid?
The power steering is a hydraulic fluid used to transmit the power from steering to wheels. The power steering has a pump driven by the engine. The engine pumps high-pressure fluid to the steering rack. The high-pressure fluids help the wheels turn easier to control the steering as the driver turns the wheel.
Before now, car companies use hydraulic power steering systems, until mid of the 20th century. Presently, the hydraulic steering systems has been replaced by electric power steering. The purpose of the power steering technology is to reduce the force required to change the steering wheels.
Why Power Steering Flush is Essential
The Power steering system helps in steering the wheels by using the engine power, thus enhancing the feel and response of the steering. It makes use of power steering fluid to transmit power from the steering to the wheels.
Power steering fluids makes it easier for a driver to turn the steering wheel smoothly with little or no efforts. All vehicle constructed with a hydraulic power-steering system requires power steering fluid because it functions alongside the power steering pump to turn the steering wheel effortlessly.
After some time, it is natural for the metal particles and slush to find their way into the fluid, making it to sludge. These particles eventually form a thick grit that gets trapped in the pinion seals, thereby causing damage.
So, it is essential for you to flush the power steering system so as to keep the car working efficiently. However, most people are bent on knowing if transmission fluid can be mixed with power steering fluid. It is possible for you to accidentally use transmission fluid for power steering, or purposely use it because there are no available options.
Mixing transmission fluid for power fluid depends on the model and make of the vehicle even though both fluids have close properties.
Some people are okay with the concept of substituting both fluids, but others are strongly against it. For the people against it, mixing both fluids can only end up damaging some parts of the system. The truth is, the automatic transmission fluid may work for some time when used in the power steering, but it will eventually lead to damage in the pump and gearbox seals. Car models in the late 70s and earlier could use mix power steering fluids with transmission fluids without any issues arising. Using both fluids interchangeably was permissible because the cars constructed during that period didn’t use any sophisticated or lightweight materials.
However, this isn’t completely applicable to the modern vehicles that are assembled using delicate parts and refined engineering techniques. This makes it compulsory to use only the exact products specifically designed for them. Using the wrong product may be destructive to the vehicle. There are some cars that you can mix the power steering fluid with the transmission fluid without any issues.
Models that you can swap both oils without any problem include:
- GM models
Models that it is unsafe to swap power steering fluid and transmission fluid includes:
- Mercedes Benz
Properties of Power Steering Fluid
Some characteristics of power steering fluid includes:
- Should not produce foaming effect when air sucked.
- It should have a long life.
- Has anti-wear features
- Have a constant viscosity.
- Fluid should be incompressible with temperature changes.
- Should not corrode with steering system mechanisms.
- It should not react with water.
Why Automatic Transmission Fluid is Essential
The main function of the automatic transmission fluid, ATF, is basically used to oil the components of a car’s transmission for optimum performance. ATF also functions as a coolant in automatic transmission vehicles. There are different types of transmission fluids, and the type used in cars and trucks depends on the type of transmission the vehicle came with. Automatic transmissions use the normal automatic transmission fluid while manual transmission fluid can vary. To get information on the right type of transmission fluid to use in vehicles, check the car owner’s manual.
The main function of auto transmission fluid is to lubricate the various parts of the transmission. It has other functions such as:
- Improve cooling function and decrease high operating temperatures
- Make to protect, clean metal and preserve surfaces from wear
- Ensure to condition the car gaskets
- Be sure to Increase the rotation speed and the temperature range.
Main Difference between Power Steering Fluid and Automatic Transmission Fluid
We shall be looking at the differences of both fluids by comparing their properties in terms of composition, smell, color, and purpose. Though both ATF(Automatic Transmission Fluid) and PSF (Power Steering Fluid)are hydraulic, but they are not the same.
- Difference in purpose
The Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) is basically used to reduce friction and for cleaning, while Power Steering Fluid (PSF) is mainly used for reducing friction and for lubricating the power steering parts.
The power steering fluid also reduces temperature build-up, oils the steering pump and gear unit and acts as hydraulic pressure to the steering parts.
- Difference in composition
Automatic transmission fluid contains friction modifiers and detergents which have different purposes. The friction modifiers are responsible for controlling the heat accumulation of pump and valves while the detergents help filter dirt from the power steering system.
- The difference in colour and smell
In color, the transmission fluid is red, with an accompanying distinctive sweet scent while the power fluid is pinkish or amber in color and comes with a burnt marshmallow smell. The PSF color can change to red or brown as time goes on.
Answering Your Question “ can you use power steering fluid for transmission fluid ”?
Power steering fluid and automatic transmission fluid are both hydraulic fluids, so mixing them isn’t supposed to be an issue. However, because they both have different material composition in them, it may lead to a problem if mixed together and some definite requirements are not met.
One thing to note is that, power fluid has oil present in it while transmission fluid does not have any oil element in it.
So, it is very much possible for there to be leakages if the two fluids are used in the system with rubber parts because oils causes rubber to expand. Based on this, power steering fluid may cause a problem.
The automatic transmission fluid is way better and safer. Mistakenly swapping both fluids can cause the gears not to function in some car models.
Avoid mixing power steering fluid with transmission fluid unless it is done unintentionally.
When used or mixed accidentally, check with your mechanic to flush off the system and then fill up the tank with a new clean automatic transmission fluid.
Or you can follow this video here to change the fluid.
RELATED POST: How to Find a Power Steering Leak
Conclusion on “Can I Mix Power Steering Fluid with Transmission Fluid”
So I hope I was able to answer your query “ can you use power steering fluid for transmission fluid ” and also showed you what is the difference between power steering fluid and transmission fluid.
From our discussion above, you now know that it’s not suitable to mix power fluids with transmission fluid.
One of the best ways to know what is best for your vehicle is to check the owner’s manual of your car. The manual will state whether your vehicle needs the standard power steering fluid or whether it can function effectively with transmission fluids.
Also Read this: Can You Use Brake Fluid for Power Steering Fluid