Can You Use Power Steering Fluid For Brake Fluid

Your braking system needs the right fluid for it to work correctly. Sometimes the fluid can get low, but you are not close to an auto shop to get the right brake fluid. Should you then consider using power steering fluid in its place? Are there implications to using such type of fluid rather than the brake fluid?

Many people would have such thoughts and questions before using the power steering fluid in the brake system.

It is vital to understand that the brake fluid and power steering fluids are different chemically. This means you cannot interchange them as you risk causing damage to the car’s power steering pump, master cylinder, and other components.

Components of Brake Fluid

The brake fluid work is to help you brake better. Considering that the braking system is a hydraulic system, it means that the brake fluid should have non-compressible properties.

Even brake fluid production has to meet important safety standards because of the type of work the fluid has to do. There are several organizations that look into how the brake fluid is made including the SAE standard and ISO standard. There is the DOT standard in the US to keep in mind.

Viscosity is one of the important properties to be maintained in the brake fluid. For this type of fluid, the viscosity has to remain the same even if there is an increase in temperature or when it is too cold.

The boiling point is another important factor. The best part about the boiling point is that the brake fluid can reach very high temperatures and would still work great for the braking performance.

Here is a video on how the braking system works

Components of Steering Fluid

The power steering fluid can also be hydraulic liquid which is important for making it a lot easier to turn your wheels. Old cars that did not have power steering pumps were the hardest to turn, but now things are easier.

As much as these two fluids might be similar, they have different components. The power steering fluids will commonly have mineral oil, synthetic base, or silicone. This shows that the power steering fluid is more similar to the automatic transmission fluid than the brake fluid.

Using Power Steering Fluid for Brakes

Using Power Steering Fluid for Brakes

Just as you cannot use brake fluid for power steering, the same also applies when it is now the brake system.

The work of the brake fluid is to help stop the car and the power steering fluid would help in controlling the car. You can see that each has a different use.

In case you use the power steering fluid in brakes, expect them not to work as good. It has been reported that the power steering fluid would make the brakes feel too hard to push. The result is that you cannot brake in good time.

Potential Risks of Using Brake Fluid in Place of Steering Fluid

Just because they are both hydraulic fluids, it does not mean you can use them interchangeably.

The brake fluid is known for causing damage to the rubber hoses, seals, and gaskets of the power steering system of your car. You may also notice the hoses would swell and some parts dissolve. The result is a complete failure of the car’s power steering system.

Some might say, what if you accidentally pour just a little bit of brake fluid into the power steering reservoir?

Even a small amount of the brake fluid can affect the power steering system. You should only use the brake fluid in the brake systems only. You are advised to drain the power steering immediately in case you mix the two.

The power steering system needs proper lubrication. Unfortunately, that is not something that the brake fluid can do for the system. This is because the brake fluid has a different chemical composition which is not optimized for lubrication.

People who have put the brake fluid in the power steering system often claim it is not easy to flush it out. It might need an expert to get it out and clean the power steering system before adding a fresh bottle of power steering fluid.

The brake fluid is also known for making the power steering system corrode. Of course, the corrosive nature of brake fluid will not make it good for the power steering system. As such, the lifespan of the power steering would be limited.

Here is a video on what to do if you add brake fluid into the power steering system

Alternatives of Brake Fluid

Alternatives of Brake Fluid

Sometimes you might just need a quick fix for your brake system. However, what would be your alternatives? Will they work as well?

Since we have seen that power steering fluid is not an option, what else is available? You can consider a soap and water mixture. Considering water and soap are readily available, it should not hard to add to the brake system.

This type of mixture would not harm the braking system provided you only use it for a short period and also flush it out once you add the right brake fluid.

You also consider diesel or gas, but they can lead to brake system corrosion. Thus the reason you should only consider using the correct brake fluid whichever the situation.

Visit any gas station and you will find the brake fluid readily available. So, there is no need to try out the different alternatives as they will not work as well.

FAQs

What are the alternatives for power steering fluid?

Rather than using braking fluid, consider engine oil, axle oil, and transmission oil for the power steering system. These other liquids may corrode the power steering system, so consider using the right fluid always.

Can the emergency brakes work even without brake fluid?

Most emergency brakes do not have a hydraulic system. They are designed to be cable-tied to the rear wheels. So, even without the brake fluid, the emergency system should work.

How often should you change the brake fluid?

Changing the brake fluid every four years should be ideal for most cars. It costs an average of $100 to flush the old and replace it with new brake fluid.

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