Can I Use Transmission Fluid in A Hydraulic Jack?

There are different hydraulic fluids, and using the wrong one for your hydraulic jack could cause severe damage.

However, you may be stuck in a difficult situation and need a substitute for jack oil. The good news is that transmission fluid, especially ATF, could be a good substitute.

This article will answer the question, “can I use transmission fluid in a hydraulic jack?”We will also answer other related questions that you may come across. Let’s dive in!

can you use transmission fluid in a hydraulic jack

Can I Use Transmission Fluid in A Hydraulic Jack?

Automatic transmission fluid is an excellent hydraulic jack oil substitute. For you to have a good understanding of how ATF can work for your hydraulic jack, you have to understand how hydraulic fluids work.

A hydraulic fluid is a liquid that transfers power in a hydraulic machine or equipment. Different types of hydraulic fluids are differentiated based on various factors.

That is, the mineral-based and synthetic-based hydraulic fluids. There are also those distinguished by their viscosities and use.

ATF and hydraulic fluid for car jacks can be mineral or synthetic-based, but people prefer synthetic-based fluid. This quality that they share makes it one of the reasons why ATF is a suitable substitution. 

Furthermore, when it comes to hydraulic fluids for your jack, you need one that provides hydraulic power and lubrication. The oil must also be non-corrosive, water resistant, anti-wear, and more. All these factors can be found in ATF, making it a safe option for hydraulic jack use.

Also, you must understand that the transmission system is a hydraulic system with a pump, valve, and piston, just like a hydraulic jack. It means that, in a way, the transmission system functions like a jack but in a complex way. It makes transmission fluid a suitable choice for your jack during emergencies.  

The Function of Hydraulic Oil

Hydraulic oil is a non-compressible fluid that transfers power in hydraulic equipment or systems. It is non-compressive because it does not change in density or volume when pressure is applied to it. The oil can be mineral-based or synthetic, and it is used in various industrial equipment like a forklift, log splitters, automotive lifts, and more.

Some of the significant properties of hydraulic oil include the following.

1. Non-compressible

2. Non-corrosive properties

3. Anti-wear

4. Water resistance

5. Constant viscosity

6. Thermally stable

There are different types of hydraulic fluid which vary in terms of additives, viscosity, and usage. It is important to note that the significant difference between hydraulic oil and jack oil is that the jack oil is explicitly made for jacks and other specific types of lifting equipment. Hydraulic oil is varied, and each class is for a specific use. The jack fluid is a type of hydraulic oil containing particular properties and additives suitable for all jacks.

Properties of Jack Oil

Jack oil is a hydraulic fluid used with jacks and other lifting equipment, allowing them to lift heavy objects easily with little force. Some factors have been considered when designing the jacking oil, including the following.

1. Viscosity

Viscosity is an important aspect that needs to be considered when dealing with any form of mechanical oil. Jack oil has a viscosity between 22 cSt to 32 cSt at 40°C. The viscosity is the level of thickness of the oil at each temperature. The jack oil having this viscosity is essential for it to have a smooth functioning during specific temperatures. 

2. Corrosiveness

Jack oils are non-corrosive and suitable for use with metal surfaces from which a large part of the hydraulic jack is made. Using other non-compatible hydraulic fluid could be corrosive to the jack’s parts. 

3. Thermal stability

It is essential that the fluid you use for your jack can maintain its property during extreme weather conditions. Hydraulic jack oil can maintain important properties and viscosity when used in extreme conditions. 

4. Wear and tear

Jack oil contains unique anti-wear properties, which provide a coating for the jack’s moving parts. It includes a good level of lubricative properties that allows for smooth movement of the features and lesser friction.

 What Oil Is Best For Hydraulic Floor Jack?

The best oil for floor jack is hydraulic jack oil, which has the perfect properties to allow your jack to perform under any condition. The jack oil is made using mineral or synthetic components with added additives. These additives include properties like anti-rust, anti-oxidation, anti-wear, cold flow, and more.

Hydraulic jack oil can either be synthetic, mineral-based, or non-compressive. If you are looking for the most efficient, use synthetic jack oil. It lasts longer and contains more additives when compared to mineral-based jack oil. Also, synthetic oil leaves few deposits compared to mineral-based jack oil.

In addition, a suitable floor jack oil substitutecould be any low synthetic or petroleum oil. The automatic transmission, 0W motor oil, and steering fluids are excellent substitutes. They are also suitable bottle jack oil substitutesin times of emergency. 

The commonly used hydraulic fluid for floor jacksis the ISO 150 and 8W32 jack oil, which offers most, if not all, of the required properties.

You might also wonder what kind of oil goes in a bottle jack. Hydraulic jack oil is also a good option for this type of jack and many other types. You could try hydraulic jack oil autozonefor any jack.

What Happens If You Use The Wrong Hydraulic Fluid?

Choosing the correct hydraulic fluid is essential to a properly functioning hydraulic system. Many components must be considered when selecting a hydraulic fluid for your jack, including viscosity, anti-wear properties, operating conditions, etc. Failure of the liquid to have these components might lead to the following.

1. Failure to function

If you apply the wrong fluid to your jack, you must also have used the wrong viscosity type. When this happens, you will notice that your jack may not function correctly during extremely cold or hot weather conditions. It is because the oil viscosity needs to be thick for the equipment to work. 

2. Difficult lifts

Another problem with the wrong hydraulic fluid is difficulty lifting anything with the jack. The hydraulic fluid cannot transfer enough power for the jack to function. The anti-wear property in the liquid is insufficient to stop parts of the jack from wearing off and causing a jam in the system.

3. Increases in wear

One of the significant advantages of using the proper hydraulic fluid is its anti-wear properties. Once you use the wrong fluid, parts of the jack will wear off quickly, causing the jack’s total failure.

4. Increased rust and corrosion

A property of an excellent hydraulic fluid suitable for the jack is the anti-corrosive additive. A wrong hydraulic fluid might not be able to provide enough protection for the jack, causing external contaminants like water to attack metal parts. It could damage the components and cause them not to function.


Using the wrong fluid for a hydraulic jack can be detrimental. Not all hydraulic fluids are the same or have similar properties. However, some have similarities, making them suitable substitutes. A good example is the ATF and hydraulic jack oil; however, this does not make jack oil suitable for a transmission system. 

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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