Can You Mix Power Steering Fluid and ATF?

You can mix a power steering fluid and ATF. However, before you do, there are things you need to understand, like the differences between these two motor fluids. The more you know about these fluids you can make well-informed decisions about how to mix or substitute them for each other.

Although it is permitted to mix both fluids, some power steering fluid types are not meant to be mixed with other types of motor fluids like the ATF due to their components. Let’s find out more in subsequent paragraphs.

mixing power steering fluid and atf

Can You Mix Power Steering Fluid And ATF?

Yes, you can mix the fluids, but you should avoid mixing them. The Power Steering Fluid (PSF) and Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) are both hydraulic fluids. However, they have different compositions that could make them not compatible.

Due to the difference in composition, the mixture could react with surrounding parts of the system when mixed. When the mixture is used, it could react with the rubber components and cause a leak in the system.

Mixing steering fluid and atf YouTube

The ATF is specially designed to contain some compositions like friction modifiers and detergents, which the power steering fluid does not have. These compositions are paramount to making the gear work perfectly. When you mix the fluids, the additives reduce drastically and may become less active, and when used with the transmission or steering system, it could cause it not to function well in some vehicles.

Before mixing the ATF and power steering fluid, check the instructions on their containers, and you will see whether or not you can mix them. It is better to use both fluids independently and avoid mixing them, except if it is a case of emergency or a mistake.

Can You Use Transmission Fluid For Power Steering?

Some types of ATF can be used in place of the power steering fluid. Types of ATF like the Dextron and Mecron are examples of ATF that can be used as power steering fluids. It is because synthetic power steering fluid is non-oil-based, just like the ATF does not contain oil.

Transmission Fluid

In some vehicles, the ATF should not be used in place of power steering fluid. These vehicles require a specifically engineered power steering fluid to meet their unique steering requirement. In cases like this, you need to consult a professional to get better information on whether using transmission fluid for power steering for your vehicle is permissible.

Before using atf as power steering fluid, ensure it is your last resort. You should avoid using the atf fluid for power steering if you canbecause of the difference in components.  

Difference between ATF and Power Steering Fluid

If you are looking at atf vs power steering fluid, you need to recognize what makes them different. To do this, we will consider three aspects: the difference in purpose, composition, and color.

1. Purpose

When it comes to purpose, the ATF and PSF have a huge difference. They are both hydraulic fluids but are used on different vehicle parts. The Automatic Transmission Fluid is used to reduce friction in the transmission system. It also performs some cleaning functions. On the other hand, the power steering fluid mainly performs lubricating and friction-reducing functions. The power steering fluid is also heat-reducing, especially for moving system parts.

2. Composition

In the difference in composition of these fluids, the ATF has friction reduction components and contains some level of detergent. The friction reduction components help regulate the heat in the parts of the transmission system, while the detergent helps to ensure dirt is filtered away from the transmission system.

Power steering fluid also contains the same component as the ATF but in lower quantity. It contains additives that act as a detergent to clean sludge in the system. The power steering fluid contains oil that helps lubricate the steering system’s parts and generate fluid pressure to steer the vehicles. The ATF does not contain oil. However, not all power steering fluid contains oil; the synthetic steering fluid is an example.

3. Appearance

In the appearance of the fluids, ATF is mostly red and comes with a unique smell, while the power steering fluid has a pinkish or amber color. It also comes with a sweet burnt smell. 

Is ATF Better Than Power Steering Fluid?

ATF is considered a better fluid than the power steering fluid but their purpose is different. ATF contains more additives, and due to this, it has more cleaning ability compared to PSF. It is why some vehicles require ATF to be used instead of power steering fluids.

Also, ATF contains friction modifiers, which the PSF does not have. The friction modifier helps reduce the friction in moving parts which also helps to regulate the heat created in these parts. However, when it comes to price, the PSF is better. It is more affordable than ATF. Thus, mixing of them is not a good choice.

What Can I Substitute For Power Steering Fluid?

If you do not have any power steering fluid and need a substitute in an emergency, you can use transmission oil, hydraulic fluid, axle oil, or motor oil. Although these fluids are a good replacement, they can harm the steering system. If you are going to use these substitutes, you need to use them in low amounts, pending the time you can get to a place where you can get the power steering fluid.

The most suitable substitute for a power steering fluid is ATF, and they are both hydraulic fluids and perform similar functions. They contain similar components with little difference. If you are stuck in a difficult situation and need a substitute for your power steering fluid, you should consider ATF.


Before you mix your ATF and steering fluid, you need to read the instructions clearly on the fluid containers. It shows you if the motor fluids can or should not be mixed. It is best to avoid mixing these fluids if possible and stick to the recommended fluids by your vehicle’s manufacturer. You can find it on the manufacturer.

Akindayini Temiloluwa

I am Akindayini Temiloluwa, an automotive expert writer and car enthusiast. I have over three years of experience in the automotive writing niche and have completed over 300 pieces of content from 50 projects. I have vast knowledge and skill in vehicle repairing, all mechanical work, car upgrades and maintenance. My goal as an automotive content writer is to simplify the most challenging concepts for my readers, help them self-diagnose what may be wrong with their vehicles and offer real value for their time.

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