Eliot Silverman

Eliot Silverman

Thursday, March 15, 2012

All About Your Car's Different Oils

Your car has many different oils; engine oil, transmission oil, power steering oil etc.  These oils are different.  While many people think auto manufacturers are dumb, which they might be, they are not stupid.  They would not stock different oils if two or more were the same.  The oils are different because they do different jobs, and they are exposed to different environments.  For example, engine oil is exposed to the high temperatures from the engine, while power steering fluid is not exposed to those conditions, so it doesn’t get nearly as hot as engine oil. 

Years ago I was told you could use transmission oil instead of power steering fluid.  If you were stuck on the side of the road, and you needed power steering fluid, you could use transmission fluid to continue your trip, but you’ll need to flush the power steering system as soon as possible.  If you were to run your power steering fluid with transmission oil, you would ruin the power steering components. 

There are many different types of transmission oils.  If you had to, you could use the wrong type of oil to get to the nearest auto repair shop.  Once there, you’ll need to flush the transmission, and then add the proper transmission oil.

Years ago I had a Honda which wouldn’t properly shift gears.  My transmission rebuilder said that was a common problem if the wrong transmission fluid was used.  He said he has fixed many Hondas which had this problem by just using the proper oil. 

There are many different viscosity oils on the market.  In a pinch you could add the wrong viscosity oil, but once again, as soon as possible you should do an oil change.   If you car uses synthetic oil, you should never used regular oil, but if your car uses regular oil you will not do any harm using synthetic oil.  More on this later. 

Of all the oils, the brake fluid is the one which deserves the most respect.  You cannot add anything but brake fluid to the brake fluid system.  NONE!  If you add the wrong fluid to the brake system you can ruin all the rubber seals in the brake system.  That means you will need to replace the brake calipers, master cylinder and the ABS system.  This will cost you over $1000.00.  It is so important I’m going to repeat myself.  Never, EVER, under any circumstances add anything but brake fluid to the brake system.

More on these oils next week.


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