Difference between Brake Fluid and Power Steering Fluid

By: | Updated: Feb-27, 2024
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As chemical components used in car maintenance, brake fluids and power steering fluids are crucial in optimizing car performance. Even though they share similar characteristics, they are far from being alike. This article provides the distinct differences between the two.

Summary Table

Brake Fluid Power Steering Fluid
Used in the braking system Used in the power steering system
Powers up the components of a vehicle’s braking system Adds pressure to the steering system
Optimizes a vehicle’s braking system Optimizes a vehicle’s power steering system
Glycol-ether, mineral oil, or silicone-based Oil-based
Incompressible Compressible
High boiling point High boiling point and low freezing point

Definitions

Brake Fluids
Brake fluid

Essential for car maintenance, brake fluid is a type of hydraulic fluid that powers up the components of a vehicle’s braking system, including the hydraulic clutch and the hydraulic brake. It serves as a lubricant and an anti-corrosive agent for all movable parts of cars, trucks, bicycles, and motorcycles.

Brake fluid mainly acts as an incompressible medium that amplifies the braking force of an automobile. Most brake fluids available on the market are made up of mineral oil, glycol-ether, or silicone.

How to Choose the Right Power Steering Fluid

There are some factors you need to know when choosing the right power steering fluid for your vehicle. For instance, there are many types of power steering fluid, so it’s essential to choose the right one for your vehicle. Each vehicle has different requirements for the viscosity, detergents, additives, and other components in the power steering fluid. So, it’s important to check your vehicle owner’s manual to see which fluid is recommended for your car or truck.

Here’s an example. Say you drive a Jeep or a Ford—the power steering fluids for these vehicles are very different from Japanese brands such as Toyota and Honda. This is why it’s essential to check your owner’s manual to ensure you buy the right fluid for your vehicle.

Purchasing the right power steering fluid means that your car will have the right fluids to keep it running optimally. This fluid keeps the valves, pistons, hoses, and the power steering pump functioning correctly.

When the levels of power steering fluid are too low, the parts of the steering system may not be lubricated or cleaned properly. This may cause parts to wear out faster and/or cause metal fragments and debris in the power steering fluid.

Power steering fluid
Power steering fluid

Power steering fluid is a low viscosity hydraulic fluid used in a vehicle’s power steering system. Mainly functioning by adding enough pressure to the pump, power steering fluids are crucial in optimizing the performance of a vehicle’s power steering system, which gives drivers more control over the steering wheel.

Just like other hydraulic fluids, power steering fluid is highly resistant to oxidation. During car maintenance procedures, the level of power steering fluid is evaluated to ensure that the vehicle’s pinion and rack receive adequate support.

How to Choose the Right Brake Fluid

When it comes to choosing the right brake fluid, you’ll find a wide range of products available. Here, again, you’ll need to check your owner’s manual to see which brake fluid is recommended for your vehicle. You can also check the master cylinder cap to see which brake fluid to use.

Brake Fluids vs Power Steering Fluids

So what’s the difference between brake fluids and power steering fluids?

Firstly, although brake fluids and power steering fluids both function as lubricants, they are used on different automobile parts and systems. While brake fluids are used in a braking system, power steering fluids are pumped into the steering system.

Secondly, these hydraulic fluids also function differently. Brake fluids are a type of hydraulic fluid that powers up the components of a vehicle’s braking system, including the hydraulic clutch and the hydraulic brake. Power steering fluids, on the other hand, function by optimizing the performance of a vehicle’s power steering system by adding pressure to the steering system. Brake fluids are used to optimize the braking system, while power steering fluids are used to help drivers gain more control over the steering wheel.

Thirdly, brake fluids and power steering fluids are made up of different chemical components. While the former is mostly glycol-ether, mineral oil, or silicone-based, the latter is oil-based.

Lastly, brake fluid is an incompressible medium distinct for its high boiling point. Meanwhile, power steering fluid, although it also has a high boiling point, is a compressible fluid characterized by its low freezing point.

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