Power Steering Fluid vs. ATF

Published on
Power Steering Fluid vs. ATF

Car maintenance can sometimes get complicated. Forget about universal straps. Everything has its own specially engineered belt. If anything goes wrong with the hydraulics, then you could be in trouble.

Then you have oil, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, and windshield washer fluid. They are all different, and they all have different purposes. While it may not be evident in the owner’s manual, power steering fluid, and transmission fluid are similar.

Last update on 2021-09-25 at 23:44 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Power Steering Fluid vs ATF – Comparative Chart

FeaturesPower Steering FluidATF
Friction modifiers and detergentsNoYes
Cleaning capacityNoYes
Reduce FrictionYes, but only in Power SteeringAverage level
ColourPinkish or amberRed liquid

Transmission Fluid

Transmission fluid when it is clean is red, but, as it is used in your car’s transmission, it becomes darker and maybe even orange. If you’re having trouble accelerating, there’s likely a fluid problem, and it may be due to a transmission fluid leak or low fluid level.

Check the transmission fluid levels with the engine running. Transmission fluid reservoirs are usually marked with colored lipstick with a ring handle. AAMCO says, “Lubricating the bearing and metal parts inside a car’s manual gearbox is vital. If you do not properly operate this device, it can cause metal-on-metal contact and cause the transmission to grind eventually.”

Lower gear ratio, an option in a manual transmission, provides high torque at low speeds. Automatic transmissions provide gear ratios that automatically change as needed. Transmission fluid provides both cooling and oiling for the gears and moving parts.

Automatic transmission fluid showed up during the 1940s and came in handy when it did. Since then, many things have happened, and some new fluid types were created to keep up with the times. Transmission fluid is essential if you want your car to shift smoothly, so make sure you have a safe amount before you decide to drive.

Your owner’s manual will tell you which type of transmission fluid your vehicle requires. There are several different types of transmission fluid to choose from, and depending on your model, you may have a few options.

Power Steering Fluid

Power steering fluid allows you to change the steering of your car quickly. It is usually straightforward; however, over time, it will turn red or brown. If your car makes whining-like sounds when cornering hard, it may be time to check the power steering fluid level.

The reservoir is usually on the driver’s side of the engine. Check the fluid level with the dipstick while the engine is off. If it is necessary to add fluid, do not overfill, or it could spray on the engine when it warms up.

Power steering fluid is a hydraulic fluid used to reduce the effort used in turning the front wheels. It is used commonly as a part of the vehicle and heavy equipment accessories to make the operation easier.

Power steering fluid is a particular type of hydraulic fluid that keeps the power steering system functioning correctly. It also helps to cool down the system and prevent corrosion, which translates to long-lasting performance.

What does power steering fluid look like? Power steering fluid is a hydraulic oil that helps provide a cushion for you to steer the wheel. Usually, it has a red or pink hue, but if it’s darker than that or cloudy in appearance, then it needs to be changed.

Interchanging the two

Power steering fluid and automatic transmission fluid are two different types of fluids. The main difference between these two is that transmission fluid contains friction modifiers and detergents. This keeps all contaminants away from the transmission.

Some vehicles (Fords) use transmission fluid in the power steering because the two are essentially the same thing, i.e., hydraulic. The transmission fluid has a dye added to it to be identified if there is a leak. However, some cars (Honda’s) require a special power steering fluid. Check your owner’s manual to make sure there are no problems with using transmission fluid not only for it but also for the power steering.

Can automatic transmission oil be used for power steering?

It is often said that there is no problem in using automatic transmission oil in the power steering system, which is precisely the same, this will be true, in this article we will clarify that considerable doubt.

In our previous article, we learned when to change this critical component, but now the question arises: which fluid is better for our vehicle? We are sure that we do not want to damage such a sensitive hydraulic system.

Use automatic transmission fluid?

Today there are quite a few different applications and different types of power steering fluid. It is true that some vehicles (Dexron, Mercon, Type F, automatic transmission fluid 4, etc.), mainly cars manufactured before 1994, can use as transmission fluid. Still, many newer cars use a synthetic hydraulic fluid specially formulated for power steering systems.

When we talk about running at lower temperatures, the better without a doubt are the use of synthetic oil fluids, therefore, improving the power steering pump’s lubrication and increasing its life, so if we can do without automatic transmission oil, our power steering will thank us.

What to consider when changing the automatic transmission fluid already in the system?

While a “generic” power steering fluid may be satisfactory for many applications, some newer vehicles require special additives to seal in lubrication and protect against corrosion. On the other hand, if we do not want to drain the ps fluid already in the system, we must ensure that the fluid we want to add meets the following conditions.

It must be chemically compatible with the fluid already in the system. The fluid’s viscosity must meet the vehicle manufacturer’s requirements for proper lubrication of the power steering pump or ps pump, steering, and bracket (this is why the power steering system is also called a power steering pump).

European and Japanese vehicles often have their power steering fluid requirements. These applications may require a high-performance synthetic base and compliance with DIN 51 524 T3 and ISO 7308. Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Mercedes, Porsche, Volkswagen, and Volvo have different power steering fluid requirements, varying by make, model, and year.

Makes such as Honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota also have standard power steering fluid specifications. The power steering pump needs suitable power steering fluids. Today is available greats power steering fluids on the market for power steering pumps. Today, most power steering pumps count with friction modifiers that need an excellent ps fluid. Also, automatic transmission needs hydraulic fluids or brake fluid for better performance. Not all hydraulic fluids bring good results.

Best power steering fluid

Generally, the type of power steering fluid specified for your vehicle should be noted on the fuel cap; this should be our first source of information. Some power steering parts are essential to consider, like the steering rack’s hydraulic valves.

In these cases, the hydraulic pressure may be a problem, like the steering wheel with the mixed power steering fluid. Many people forget about the change in power steering fluid. Get the best power steering fluids brings more performance for power steering pumps.

The owner’s manual is the one to know the type of multigrade or oil in the engine, including some brands of power steering fluid, with specifications by make, model, and year of vehicle on their website.

Therefore, use the specified fluid type (or fluid that meets OEM requirements) to reduce the risk of incompatibility problems and traffic interruption. Using the wrong type of power steering fluid is a common cause of power steering pump failure, so it’s better to be safe than sorry; if you don’t know what type of power steering fluid to use, don’t add fluid to the power steering reservoir until you can determine the correct type.


1. What happens if I use power steering fluid instead of ATF?

In most cases, no damage occurs. These two fluids are hydraulic. Many people tend to use one or the other depending on availability.

2. Is power steering the same as transmission fluid?

The transmission fluid is practically the same. They can be used alternatively but only at certain times.

3. Is ATF better than power steering fluid?

ATF fluid is required to reduce friction and optimize cleanliness. On the other hand, the power steering fluid reduces friction and improves lubrication of the power steering and related parts, among other functions.

Last update on 2021-09-25 at 23:44 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


The transmission and power steering fluids are made from liquid called Hydrocarbons (HCs) with a few additives mixed in. While they look alike and serve the same purpose, ATF and power steering fluid are very different. ATF has detergents that help keep your transmission clean and a friction modifier to keep it running smoothly. Knowing these differences is what allows people to enjoy a more efficient and safer vehicle overall.

Leave a Comment

Halloween Deal 2021Check Out Best Deals
+ +