Can You Use Brake Fluid As Power Steering Fluid?

There are many types of fluids in your car, and each one has its purpose. Although it might be tempting to mix the fluids, is this wise?

You will find both brake and power steering fluid in this guide. You will be able to find legal power steering fluid options and learn what to do if your brake fluid has been accidentally used. 

Índice de Contenido
  1. Can You Use Brake Fluid As Power Steering Fluid?
    1. What exactly is Power Steering Fluid (PSF)?
    2. What's a Brake Fluid?
  2. Power Steering Fluid vs. Brake Fluid
    1. 1. Composition
    2. 2. Heat Control
    3. 3. Compatibility of the System
  3. Power Steering Fluid Alternatives
  4. What should you do if brake fluid was used as power steering fluid?
  5. Brake fluid in the Power Steering System can cause damage
  6. How to check Power Steering Fluid
    1. 1. Locate Reservoir
    2. 2. Examine Dipstick
    3. 3. Double-Check
    4. 4. Please fill out if necessary
  7. Questions
    1. You can mix brake and power steering fluid.
    2. Is it possible to use transmission fluid in place of power steering fluid
    3. What can you do with brake fluid to make other things possible?
    4. Transmission fluid can be used as brake fluid

Can You Use Brake Fluid As Power Steering Fluid?

No, brake fluid is very different from power steering fluid, and these shouldn’t be used interchangeably. You can do irreparable harm to your vehicle if you inject brake fluid into the engine. These fluids are intended to only be used within their designated systems.

You will need to drain your system and refill the correct fluid if you have added brake fluid or vice versa to the power steering fluid tank. This is to avoid any damage or accidents.

What exactly is Power Steering Fluid (PSF)?

Power steering fluid is petroleum based. While it works as a lubricant between the metal components, it’s also needed to provide pressure transfer.

The hydraulic piston is pressed by this fluid. As you turn the steering wheel, this fluid makes the wheels spin smoothly. 

What's a Brake Fluid?

Glycol is the most common base for brake fluid. This fluid provides some lubrication and also helps to keep corrosion at bay.

The brake fluid works by applying pressure to the rotors from the pads. This action causes the car to stop when it is pressed down on the brake pedal. 

Related: DOT 3 and vs. How to Mix DOT4 Brake Fluids

Power Steering Fluid vs. Brake Fluid

1. Composition

Power steering fluid is petroleum based. Although gasoline can also be petroleum-based but they do not share the exact same composition.

Brake fluid, on the other hand is often glycol-based. You may also have heard of this ingredient based on what’s included with some antifreeze mixtures. 

2. Heat Control

The power steering fluid is a medium for pressure transfer and a lubricant of metal-to-metal parts. The fluid is heat-resistant and has a high viscosity to ensure reliable performance.

Brake fluid isn’t needed for lubricating parts the same way, even though it does provide some benefit. It absorbs water to stop corrosion. The brakes also heat dissipate while maintaining the same viscosity. Because of the high boiling point, the brakes won’t fail on you or get spongy. 

3. Compatibility of the System

For your vehicle to have a dynamic steering system, power steering fluid must be used. The rubber can be damaged if the fluid is used for the brakes. 

Brake fluid, in essence, is a nonlubricating fluid. If used in the power steering system, the vital parts won’t get the protection needed and damage will occur. 

Power Steering Fluid Alternatives

You might have an option to use an auto transmission fluid if you don't have a power steering fluid or are short on time. Both are similar in their compositions and can be interchangeably used by some manufacturers. However, you should always check the owner’s manual before you swap any fluid for another.

Vehicles don’t use as much power steering fluid as transmission fluid. Manufacturers put both in different sizes and packaging. The manufacturer may advertise the fluid at a different cost by using unique packaging. 

RELATED: 3 Different Power Steering Fluid Types (& How to Change)

What should you do if brake fluid was used as power steering fluid?

It is important to immediately remove brake fluid from the power steering reservoir if you accidentally place it there. These steps can help prevent serious damage.

  1. Don't drive or turn the engine on. It’s important to prevent the brake fluid from circulating through the power steering system, you can prevent damage from happening. The reservoir will hold all the brake fluid that has been poured into it if the car is not turned on. 
  2. Turn the reservoir over to access the power steering fluid.
  3. Use a spatula to remove the liquid from the container. Be sure to place the fluid in an appropriate container
  4. The front of the car should be jacked. Place it on jack stands.
  5. The steering wheel can be moved from one side to the other. There should be more fluid in the reservoir.
  6. Continue to drain the liquid from your turkey panter. 
  7. (Optional). You may also opt to empty the system. Disconnect the system’s low-pressure line. The fluid should be drained into a suitable container.
  8. You can continue turning the wheel to flush more fluid out.
  9. You can also drain out the old power steering fluid. This helps flush any remaining contaminants from the system. This step should be repeated several times to ensure accuracy.
  10. Then put it back together.
  11. Then lower the car gently to the ground.
  12. Make sure to fill the engine with the correct fluid.

If you don’t want to work on your own car or you are nervous about draining this system properly, you should get help from a professional mechanic. However, you can’t drive it to the shop. It would be better to have your car towed. A mechanic can provide a professional flush, ensuring there’s no remaining fluid in the system.

Brake fluid in the Power Steering System can cause damage

It will be much more difficult to get the brake fluid out if it is allowed to circulate throughout the system. You will smell something bad about the fluid, and you'll notice something else with your steering system.

It can initially cause rubber seals swelling, which could lead to a leak. The long-term consequences can be costly if they are not addressed. The cost to repair a power steering pump could be anywhere from $250 up to $1,000 depending on which vehicle you have. 

How to check Power Steering Fluid

1. Locate Reservoir

Locating the correct reservoir is the first step towards checking power steering fluid. Your car likely has multiple containers containing fluid underneath the hood.

You can look in your owner’s manual to find its location, as each model is different. It should be a small container that’s clear and it usually contains a black cap on the top. 

2. Examine Dipstick

You will see marks if the dipstick is installed on your vehicle. The dipstick should look like an oil dipstick. Take off the cover and use a towel to clean it.

If there’s no dipstick, you will examine the tank by the marks on the side. The fluid must be between a MAX line and MIN lines.

3. Double-Check

Reattach the cap so that the dipstick remains in the fluid. Double-check the cap to verify that it is still in place. 

Many dipsticks have marks that indicate MAX, MIN, Full Hot or Full Cold. You need to make sure the dipstick is at the correct spot. 

4. Please fill out if necessary

It is important to fill the reservoir with water if your power steering system has gone out of control. You should fill the reservoir to the right level. 

You might consider performing a power steering flush if the fluid appears to be contaminated. This maintenance should be done by most manufacturers every 40,000-80,000 miles.


You can mix brake and power steering fluid.

You should never mix brake fluid with power steering fluid. These fluids can be mixed in the wrong place and could cause severe damage or accidents. While both fluids are designed to lubricate and protect your car’s components, they serve different purposes and mixing the two can cause problems.

Is it possible to use transmission fluid in place of power steering fluid

The transmission fluid and the power steering fluid are the same in older cars. These fluids are often different in modern vehicles. Check your owner’s manual and use only a compatible fluid for your vehicle.

What can you do with brake fluid to make other things possible?

Brake fluid can be described as a hydraulic fluid. It is commonly used for brake and clutch system. Although brake fluid cannot be used to do anything other than brake, there are some uses for it. Brake fluid is sometimes used to clean metallic parts. It can also be used for hydraulic jacks or lifting equipment.

Transmission fluid can be used as brake fluid

Transmission fluid is not recommended to be replaced by brake fluid. Transmission fluid used in brakes may cause brake damage and even lead to loss of brake power.

RELATED: Brake Fluid Flush – Why You Need It & What It Costs

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