You just took your car for a spin, and now you’re back home. You notice some leaking from the power steering pump, which is probably why your car makes those funny sounds when you turn.
So, you’ve got to get some power steering fluid ASAP — but is brake fluid an acceptable substitute? Before you panic and start switching out fluids, read on below to understand what can happen if you switch out brake fluid with power steering fluid.
There are types of brake fluid available in the market, and you can always go for the one which suits your car best as some are for dry weather conditions and some for wet weather conditions.
Power Steering Fluid
The power steering fluid is less viscous and corrosive than brake fluids. You can use it to fill your power steering reservoir without worrying about any adverse consequences.
You also won’t have to worry about getting a different fluid for your brakes when you run out of PSF.
Power steering fluid costs less per liter and is much more affordable than brake fluids. So if you’re looking for an inexpensive alternative that won’t cause damage to your car’s engine, consider using PSF instead.
Brake fluid is a type of hydraulic fluid (think transmission and power steering), but it’s different from power steering fluid in several ways.
For one thing, brake fluids are much more viscous than power steering fluids. They don’t flow as easily through the system.
They stick to the surfaces instead of gliding along like additives. Brake fluids also have higher boiling points and are more corrosive than power steering fluids — all reasons why you don’t want to use brake fluid in place of your car’s regular maintenance needs.
It is true that brake fluid and power steering fluid are very similar chemically. However, the two fluids have entirely different uses.
Differences Between Brake Fluid and Power Steering Fluid
The main difference between brake fluid and power steering fluid is that one can withstand high temperatures, while the other is for low viscosity.
In other words, brake fluid has a higher boiling point than power steering fluid.
This high boiling point means that if you’re using it in place of your vehicle’s original power steering system, it will cook your seals and destroy your engine.
If you ever see smoke coming from under the hood of your car or truck while driving, this could be because the grease seals inside your power steering.
The pump has begun to burn up due to their exposure to brake fluid — which is much hotter than what they should do.
Motorsports Brake Fluid
Motorsports brake fluid is a special brake fluid with a higher boiling point and is more resistant to moisture.
You can get it in aerosol cans, which makes it convenient for track days or when you want to top off your reservoir after driving on a track where the air temperature was hot enough to evaporate some fluid.
Motorsports brake fluid will not work well in streetcars because regular DOT 3 or 4 fluids are great for everyday use and are far cheaper than motorsport fluids.
If you want to keep your car going, you need to keep your brake fluid clean and in good shape.
Can You Use Brake Fluid for Power Steering Fluid?
Brake fluid is not a suitable substitute for power steering fluid because it doesn’t have the same properties. It is a lubricant with no additives that provide the necessary protection from corrosion and heat.
Brake fluid is not recommended for use in power steering systems, especially if your car has an automatic or continuously variable transmission or if you live in an area with highly corrosive air.
What are brake fluid and power steering fluid?
Brake fluid is a liquid that helps to stop the vehicle. You can use it in hydraulic brakes and power steering systems. On the other hand, the power steering fluid controls the vehicle’s direction.
The brake fluid has a high boiling point, while the power steering fluid has a low boiling point.
Brake fluid is a liquid that helps slow down the movement of a car by absorbing heat and converting it into kinetic energy. It is also responsible for stopping the wheels and transferring the kinetic energy into heat.
What are the proper fluids for my car?
Car fluids are a vital part of any car and need to be checked and changed regularly. The fluids cool the engine, lubricate moving parts, and prevent corrosion.
The ABS will keep tabs on systems like brake fluid and pads and warn you when they need attention.
The best fluid for your car is one that you can easily find at your local auto store. It should be compatible with your car’s make and model, but preferably it has a long life span.
How do I know if my car needs brake fluid or power steering fluid?
Brake fluid is a clear liquid used to lubricate the brake system. It can also cool the brakes and stop the vehicle from overheating. Power steering fluid is a thicker fluid that lubricates and cools the power steering system. So, can I use brake fluid for power steering fluid?
A general rule for determining whether your car needs brake fluid or power steering fluid: If you hear squealing when you apply brakes, it’s time for power steering fluid. If you feel resistance when applying pressure on your brake pedal, it’s time for brake fluid.
Car fluids are crucial to the proper and reliable running of any vehicle; therefore, you need to check and replace them when they have reached the necessary levels.
How long will it take to flush out my old power steering fluid with the new brake fluid?
It may take about one hour in a typical car. Here is a step-by-step guide illustrating changing power steering fluid with brake fluid:
Step 1: Remove the old power steering fluid from the reservoir.
Step 2: Fill up the reservoir with new brake fluid.
Step 3: Bleed the system using a pressure bleeder screwdriver, then remove and replace any lines that old fluid may have contaminated.
Step 4: Refill the reservoir with new brake fluid and bleed again using a pressure bleeder screwdriver.
How do I change my brake fluids if I have a manual transmission car?
There are only two things you need to do when replacing brake fluids in a manual transmission car: first, get the old fluid out of the way; second, put the new stuff in place.
You need to understand the importance of changing your brake fluids. The anti-lock braking system (ABS) is an essential feature on most vehicles, and it will alert you when it is time to change your brake fluid.
Some cars have a sticker on the dashboard that reminds you to check fluid levels if necessary.
Many modern vehicles utilize a hydraulic braking system that incorporates two separate reservoirs: one for the brake fluid and another for the power-assist vacuum.
In this situation, you can change the fluid level in both reservoirs and not worry about mixing them.
Flushing these fluids and replacing them with fresh new ones will keep the system in top working order.
The question is, can I use brake fluid for power steering fluid? The short answer is no, but it’s a very tight no. And while they are both fluid, and they do tend to break down things that get in their way, both of these fluids have a much different composition than the other. So, the brake fluid will not function adequately as power steering fluid and power steering fluid will not function as brake fluid.
Jim Wicks is the founder of MotorVehicleHQ. With over two decades of experience in the automotive industry and a degree in Automotive Technology, Jim is a certified car expert who has worked in various roles ranging from a mechanic, car dealership manager, to a racing car driver. He has owned more than 20 cars over the past 15 years. Ask him about any vehicle you see on the road and he can tell you the make, model and year. He loves the aesthetics of all things cars, and keeps his vehicles in pristine condition.
In his free time, Jim enjoys getting his hands dirty under the hood of a classic car or taking long drives along the country roads. His favorite car? A 1967 Shelby GT500, a true classic that, according to Jim, “represents the pure essence of American muscle.”