Have you ever considered the various fluids inside your car and whether they could pose a fire risk? Sounds risky sitting on a vehicle full of fluid, right?
One of the most important fluids your car contains is the power steering fluid.
Power steering fluid is an important hydraulic fluid that helps you connect the car’s steering wheel with the front wheels.
Power steering fluid makes it easier for the driver to turn the wheels by reducing the amount of pressure to turn the car’s wheels for changing direction.
But “Is power steering fluid flammable?”
The answer is no. Power steering fluid is not flammable. It is more like a combustible fluid.
Because power steering fluid can burn when exposed to high temperatures, it is not considered a flammable liquid. This is because it has a high flashpoint of around 400°F. So, even though it can burn, it is not likely to catch fire easily.
Let’s learn more about power steering fluid.
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What Does Power Steering Fluid Do?
Power steering fluid plays an important role in the steering mechanism. It makes it easier for you to steer your vehicle. It helps create a hydraulic connection between the steering wheel and the front wheels, which reduces the effort required to turn the wheels.
Power steering fluid also helps keep the moving parts within the steering system lubricated, preventing damage and wear inside the steering mechanism. It helps steer smoothly by applying little force, converting it to hydraulic force, which reduces friction in the steering mechanism.
People sometimes may get confused about power steering fluid with transmission fluid because of their hydraulic nature. Both of the fluids help to lubricate the moving parts in the steering system. Regarding this, it’s important to note that they are not the same thing.
You may use automatic transmission fluid instead of power steering fluid in an emergency, but it’s not recommended as a permanent solution.
What Are the Chances of Power Steering Fluid Catching Fire?
Power steering fluid is not considered flammable, It can catch Fire, but it’s not the same as regular flammable liquids in your car.
Power steering fluid catches Fire, but in high temperatures, which is beyond what your steering system can generate. However, it can ignite Fire but is not considered flammable, as National Fire Protection Association(NFPA) claimed.
The reason that determines something flammable is the flash point and boiling point of the fluid. Power steering fluid has a flash point that’s around 300-500 degrees Fahrenheit (148.8-260 Celsius) and also a boiling point of 600-700 degrees Fahrenheit (315.5-371.1degree Celsius). It basically means that power steering fluid is not flammable but is considered to catch Fire.
But if you consider other flammable fluids like petrol and diesel, power steering fluid should be the least of your worries. Cause power steering fluid is nothing like them.
But that also doesn’t mean you can act carefree with power steering fluid. Please keep it safe and out of reach of flame and other hazardous chemicals.
Also, it depends on what type of power steering fluid your car uses.
Types of power steering fluid
Power steering fluid is a type of fluid used in vehicles to help make steering easier. It is made up of different kinds of oils, such as mineral oil or synthetic mineral oil, along with certain chemical additives. These additives help to reduce friction and prevent corrosion, thus allowing the fluid to work in a vaster range of temperatures and pressures.
Based on these facts, power steering fluid is divided into three different sections such as ATF Transmission Fluid, Synthetic-Based Hydraulic Fluid, and Universal Power Steering Fluid.
ATF Transmission Fluid
Cars that use automatic transmission systems will require automatic Transmission Fluid. This fluid ensures various aspects of the car’s steering system. Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) is essential for keeping your car’s transmission running smoothly. It serves many important functions, such as keeping the transmission cool and lubricated and transferring power from the engine.
ATF fluid also helps to protect the transmission system from getting wear and tear by lubricating transmission mechanical components. It also helps in maintaining fluid pressure, conditioning the gasket, and preventing rust and oxidation.
Synthetic-Based Hydraulic Fluid
Synthetic hydraulic fluid is a type of fluid that is made from chemicals instead of natural minerals like oil or water. Unlike petroleum-based fluids, synthetic hydraulic fluids can be developed to provide better performance and overcome drawbacks. This helps manufacturers to create fluids that are customizable for specific requirements.
Many different customizable options are available for hydraulic systems,
such as food-grade fluids, wear resistance, fire resistance, or high-temperature performance. By Applying different procedures, synthetic hydraulic fluids can be customized to meet the unique conditions of different hydraulic systems available in the market.
Universal Power Steering Fluid
Universal Power Steering Fluid is a type of fluid that helps to keep your vehicle’s power steering system running smoothly. It is made to work with many types of steering systems, regardless of the type of vehicle you have. Most modern vehicles use this type of fluid nowadays.
This special fluid has a unique formula that makes it thick enough to work well in the power steering system but also helps to protect the system from wear and tear.
It also has special added ingredients that prevent the fluid from foaming and corrosion, leaving any residues in the power steering system.
Does power steering fluid Ever Evaporate?
Like any other oil, power steering fluid can evaporate under certain circumstances. Power steering fluid will start to evaporate at around 600 degrees Fahrenheit (315.5 degrees Celsius) and above. Still, as we know, it can ignite at 300 degrees Fahrenheit, so the situation will be like igniting the liquid first and then evaporating later.
Meaning your car’s fluid is already on Fire before evaporating and needs to be stopped immediately.
What To Do When the power steering fluid Evaporates and Catches Fire
As you know after reading the blog that power steering fluid is not flammable but is more like combustible liquid. Despite all that, if your power steering fluid catches Fire after coming in contact with other hot parts of your car.
We recommend you not to use water to distinguish the Fire cause the water will help it to spread even more. So to stop the Fire, you will need foam, a fire extinguisher, or carbon die oxide. Any other procedure may light up the Fire more.
When to change the power steering fluid
There are several things you will notice when your power steering fluid needs a change. Some of them are
DARK FLUID: When you pop up the hood and pull out the dipstick. The power steering fluid should be bright red in color and clean. If the fluid is dark and contaminated, it needs to get changed.
UNUSUAL SOUNDS: A contaminated fluid will make the steering harder than usual. So over time, it will become louder and noisier when you are steering your car. A loud power steering pump means the fluid needs to be changed.
HARD STEERING WHEEL: When you are making turns and the steering wheel feels heavy, it may be because of contaminated power steering fluid. Power steering fluid helps in steering smoothly. So hard and heavy steering means your power steering fluid needs to be changed.
After reading this post, you may reach the answer to your question, “Is power steering fluid flammable?”
The simple answer to that is it’s not. But under high temperatures of 400 degrees Fahrenheit, power steering fluid can catch Fire. However, it’s rare for your car to generate this level of heat in your steering system.
If, unfortunately, the temperature around the steering fluid rises to the flash point catches Fire, stay calm and take the measurable steps included above. It is recommended that you always carry a fire extinguisher in your car as a safety measure.