Power steering fluid (PSF) is a type of hydraulic fluid used in a range of different vehicles.
PSF is also known as gear oil or transmission oil.
The purpose of PSF is to provide lubrication between moving parts within the vehicle.
A lot of car liquids, such as gasoline, are flammable and they can catch fire when they get hot enough.
So, what about PSF? Is power steering fluid flammable?
Read on to find out!
Can Power Steering Fluid Burn?
PSF is a petroleum-based product.
This means that when the power steering fluid is exposed to heat, it can become flammable.
This is the reason why, if you see smoke or flames coming from the engine compartment, immediately turn off the ignition switch and stop driving the car.
Just like many other car fluids, power steering fluid can burn when it comes into contact with fire.
PSF is a flammable liquid, and it will catch fire at a temperature flashpoint of around 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s important to notice that power steering fluid does not have a specific formula.
Each manufacturer has its proprietary formula for PSF.
This means that there is a vast range of when power steering fluid might catch fire.
Depending on the ingredients, PSF can catch fire from 200 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
This very high temperature is typically only achieved around an open flame or during an accident.
In comparison, gasoline and other vehicle fluids will catch fire at a much lower temperature.
This means that the power steering fluid is likely to be one of the last fluids in a car to burn.
How Hot Can Power Steering Fluid Get?
There is typically no limit to how hot car fluids can get.
However, a car fire usually doesn’t burn hotter than 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
This means that the power steering fluid is likely to reach a maximum temperature of 500 degrees Fahrenheit, but typically this will be much lower.
Steering fluid does not reach these temperatures unless there is a car fire or you add heat to it.
The normal operations of a car will not increase the temperature of the power steering fluid significantly.
What Can Cause Power Steering Fluid To Burn?
Power steering fluid is flammable because it contains hydrocarbon compounds.
These compounds are similar to those found in gasoline and other fuels.
The most common cause of power steering fluid catching fire is a spark.
A spark can occur when the metal parts of your car rub against each other, or your car is on fire already due to an accident.
The friction created by this rubbing action creates sparks that can ignite the fuel inside the power steering fluid.
Another possible cause of power steering fluid burning is a leaky steering pump.
If the pressure in the system drops too low, then the steering wheel could lock up.
If this happens, the driver would need to apply more force to keep the wheels turning.
This extra force could create sparks that may ignite the power steering fluid.
Another reason why your power steering fluid is getting hot and may start to burn is when the gears or bearings of your vehicle are worn.
Then these metal parts grind together, and this creates sparks that could ignite the PSF.
Is Power Steering Fluid Corrosive?
No, the power steering fluid is not corrosive. Although this vehicle fluid is flammable, it does not corrode metal like some other fluids.
However, power steering fluid may cause paint to peel, so it is best to avoid using it near painted surfaces.
How To Handle Power Steering Fluid Safely
When you are handling any car fluids, it is important to follow the safety advice on the packaging.
Here are some tips on how to handle power steering fluid safely.
When handling power steering fluid, always wear gloves.
You should never touch any part of your body directly with the fluid.
You also shouldn’t use anything else as a glove since you don’t want to contaminate the fluid with dirt or oil.
Store Away From Open Flames
It’s best to store your power steering fluid away from an open flame source.
This includes the engine compartment, heater vents, exhaust system, and any other area where flames can escape.
Label Your Car Fluids Correctly
You must always label your car fluids, including power steering fluid, correctly.
For example, if you have a red plastic bottle for your power steering fluid, make sure you label it “power steering fluid” and not something like “hydraulic brake fluid”.
This will ensure that you have the right car fluid at hand when you need it.
Store Away From Pets And Children
Children and pets are often curious and they may try to play with your car fluids.
To avoid accidents and any harm, make sure you store these flammable fluids out of their reach.
Use Proper Storage Containers
Your power steering fluid should be stored in a container designed specifically for this purpose.
You may leave the fluid in its original container.
However, bear in mind that these containers are typically made of metal and may rust, so make sure to check them regularly for leaks
Clean Up Spills Immediately
Power steering fluid spills are very easy to clean up.
However, you must do so immediately to prevent further damage.
To remove the spill, first wet down the affected surface with some laundry detergent.
Then, blot the area dry with paper towels.
If the steering fluid is on car seats or the interior of your vehicle, then you can clean the stain with a common brake cleaner.
Check Your Car For Leaks
Leaking power steering fluid can lead to serious problems such as overheating, corrosion, and even fire.
Regularly check your car for any leaks or unusual noises when you turn the steering wheel.
Power steering fluid is one of the most important components of your vehicle.
It helps to keep your steering mechanism working properly.
However, just like many other car fluids, the power steering fluid is flammable and needs to be handled with care.