Can You Use Motor Oil For Power Steering Fluid? Read What Experts Say!

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Power steering fluid lubricates and steers the wheels. Motor oils also lubricate different parts of the engine. Together they ensure a smooth driving experience. Due to their similar functions, people often ask, can you use motor oil for power steering fluid?

You can not use motor oil for power steering wheels due to the use of different levels of viscosity and chemical compounds. Doing so will cause the seals to clog or swell. It will hamper the performance of your car and may also damage the power steering system.

Aren’t they both the same? Or why can you not use them alternatively? Please have patience as we will answer all of your questions throughout the article.

You may also like: How To Clean Power Steering Reservoir?

Are the motor oil and power steering fluid the same?

oil mixed with power steering fluid

The motor oil and power steering fluid are not the same. They use different additives and components that make them suitable for different tasks.

For example, the Honda Power Steering Fluid, which is one of the best power steering fluids, is specially made to steer wheels in Honda vehicles. You can not use it for powering the engine.

The power steering fluid is caustic, while the motor oil is less caustic. Plus, the motor oil or engine oils have a few additives similar to the hydraulic fluid but with a high level of viscosities.

The steering fluid is quite identical to the hydraulic fluid, but the chemical compounds are pretty different from motor oil. Now the obvious question is whether you can use motor oil instead of steering wheel fluid or not.

Can you use motor oil for power steering fluid?

can you use motor oil for power steering fluid

You can not use motor oil instead of power steering fluid. The main reason behind this is their usage of different components. Similarly, you can not use a power steering fluid in engine oil.

Power steering fluids steer the wheel to make your driving experience more smooth. The motor oil also contributes to the process, but it works in the engine system.

To be more clear, motor oils lubricate the engine’s moving parts. It helps to prevent damage and make the combustion process smooth.

The heat resistance in motor oils is high due to the hot temperature in the system. It is synthetic, and good motor oils will increase the mileage of your car.

Mobil 1 High Mileage Full Synthetic Motor Oil is one of the best motor oils on the market. Its viscosity is 5w-20 and can protect engines from heat up to 500°F.

On the other hand, power steering fluid steers the wheels for better turns and movements of the wheels. It ensures that the pistons, valves, hoses, and steering pumps work smoothly to make steering effortless.

The jobs for power steering fluid and motor oils are completely different from each other. Can you substitute motor oil for power steering fluid? The straightforward answer is, No.

If you need a good power steering fluid within a low budget, you can go for the Royal Purple MAX EZ Power Steering Fluid. The smaller bottle is only 12 oz, and the price is pretty reasonable.

What happens if you mix motor oil with the power steering fluid?

You may also be curious about what happens if you mistakenly use the engine oil in the power steering system? Or what happens if you mix or drop a little bit of motor oil in power steering fluid?

If a small amount of oil mixed with power steering fluid by mistake or intentionally, it will contaminate the fluid and will cause the seals to clog or swell. As a result, the functionality of the power steering will be hampered, and you will not get good performance from your car.

What to do if you accidentally put transmission fluid in power steering? The best solution in this situation is to drain out all the fluid and replace it with a good quality power steering fluid such as the Lubegard 23232 Complete Synthetic Power Steering Fluid.

However, if the motor oil stays in the power steering system for too long or you fill the system with only motor oil, it can cause serious damage to the power steering system. That’s why it is highly recommended that you do not make such mistakes.

What kind of power steering fluid should I use?

What kind of power steering fluid should I use

People often ask, does it matter what power steering fluid you use? Yes, it does matter which power steering fluid you use in your vehicle. 

That’s because different power steering fluids are available in the market, and most cars have their unique standard requirements for the fluid.

There are mainly three different types of power steering fluids. They are:

  1. Automatic transmission fluid (ATF): Most vehicles built from the 1970s to 1990s use ATF. It includes brands like Ford, Chrysler, Volkswagen, and GM. ATF is not very common in vehicles, though.
  2. Synthetic power steering fluid: Most Japanese and European vehicles today use different types of synthetic power steering fluid. It is pretty common in newer models.
  3. Non-synthetic/Mineral power steering fluid: Vehicles that run with ATF can also be steered with non-synthetic power steering fluids.

There are also some power steering fluids that the producers claim to be universal and suitable for all cars. But, car manufacturers recommend using specific steering fluid for their cars.

Most newer vehicle models today use synthetic power steering fluid. However, Porsche, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Audi, and all other vehicles have different standard requirements for power steering oil grade.

These standards refer to the requirements of different levels of viscosity, additives, detergents, and other components. Check the user’s manual to know about these standard requirements.

You can find out the type of power steering fluid your car needs from the PS reservoir cap. The power steering pump is on one side of the engine, and the PS reservoir or filler cap should be on top of it. 

Remove the cap and check the markings on it to know the power steering fluid requirements for your vehicle.

Then use the best power steering fluid for an amazing driving experience. For instance, if your car requires synthetic fluid, you can use the Lucas 10011 Power Steering Stop Leak. It stops rack and pinion problems and improves steering response.

Many car owners think a thick power steering fluid performs better. But that is not always true. For instance, ATF is quite thin but steers pretty well.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below you’ll find answers to questions we get asked the most about can you use motor oil for power steering fluid:

What is the thickest gear oil?

The SAE grading system indicates the thickness of gear oils. It starts from 10, and the thickest gear oil has an SAE grading of 140. The thicker the oil is, the higher the viscosity level is and also is heavier. Thicker oils are expected to perform better in general.

Can you drive a car with no power steering fluid?

You can not drive a car with zero power steering fluid. It will damage and overheat the pinions, steering pump, and rack. If you drive for more than three minutes with no power steering fluid, it may completely damage the pump’s seal and gasket.

You may drive a while with a low level of power steering fluid, but driving with no fluid is not safe.

Can I use the SAE 15w40 power steering fluid on the International 9400i?

You can use 15W40 on the international 9400i if there are no specific requirements. In case the PS reservoir cap mentions a particular fluid, it’s better to go for that.

Final Takeaway

To sum up, both the motor oil and power steering fluid are essential for your car. Change motor oil after every 5,000 miles to 7,5000 miles to keep the engine in good condition. 

Power steering fluids last longer, and they require a change after 50,000 to 75,000 miles or once every two years.

The main point is that it is always preferable to use motor oils in the engine and the power steering fluid in the power steering system. They are not interchangeable.

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Robert Lozano

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