The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Hydraulic Jack Oil Substitute

Hydraulic jacks rock! I’m talking about hydraulic fluid, the secret sauce behind the power of heavy-duty equipment in industries such as automotive, construction, and manufacturing. This wondrous liquid allows hydraulic jacks to function smoothly and lift massive loads with ease. However, if this fluid isn’t maintained properly, things can go south pretty fast. From damaged equipment to worker safety hazards – beware the consequences of neglecting your hydraulic jack oil!

Now, let’s get into what you came here for: possible substitutes for hydraulic jack oil. 

Can You Use Power Steering Fluid In A Hydraulic Jack?

People often wonder if they can use power steering fluid as a substitute for hydraulic jack oil, but it’s generally not recommended. Although both fluids transfer power efficiently and handle extreme pressure, there are significant differences to consider.

Power steering fluid contains additives designed to reduce wear and increase the lifespan of the steering system. However, these additives may not be suitable for every hydraulic system, and using an incompatible type could cause damage or malfunctioning.

Viscosity is another key difference between the two fluids. Power steering fluids usually have lower viscosity than hydraulic jack oils, which could be problematic if your system requires higher-viscosity fluids to function correctly. Therefore, it’s better to use the recommended hydraulic jack oil rather than taking chances with alternative solutions.

Can You Use Motor Oil Instead Of Hydraulic Fluid?

You can use motor oil as hydraulic fluid, it’s not the best practice. Why?

It’s simple: most types of motor oils aren’t formulated like hydraulic jack oils. Motor oils contain additional detergents that are designed to target engine deposits, which isn’t necessary for a hydraulic system. Additionally, they lack the lubricant film strength required by general-purpose applications like those found in a hydraulic jack system.

We understand that motor oil may seem like an easy substitute because it’s commonly found in most garages and workshops. However, using motor oil could lead to serious problems in your hydraulic system in the long run. Over time, the detergent additives in motor oil can wear away at seals that are present in the hydraulic system.

Furthermore, if your hydraulic jack has been sitting idle for a while and has accumulated rust or debris inside, switching to motor oil will only cause more problems since detergents can break down rust particles and cause them to clog hoses or pistons.

Can You Use Brake Fluid In A Hydraulic Jack?

The short answer is no, brake fluid is not recommended for use in hydraulic jacks.

Brake fluids are specifically designed for hydraulic braking systems and undergo stringent testing to comply with Department of Transportation (DOT) standards. These essential fluids typically consist of mineral oils that have been mixed with glycol ether, commonly referred to as Polyalkylene glycol, ensuring optimum performance and longevity for your braking system.

However, using them as an alternative to hydraulic jack oil may not yield the desired results for some critical reasons. Firstly, unlike hydraulic jack oil, they generally do not contain antifoam or anti-wear additives, which are crucial in high-pressure systems like those found in hydraulic jacks.

Additionally, brake fluids are generally not suitable replacements because they may cause damage to rubber seals and O-rings found within the jack’s piston assembly. Their compatibility with the metal parts may differ from that of the original hydraulic oil.

Can you use vegetable oil in a hydraulic jack?

Yes, but it ultimately depends on what you’re comfortable with. While vegetable oil can do the job in a pinch, there are some caveats to consider.

You see, hydraulic jack oil is specially formulated with additives that ensure everything runs smoothly and safely. These additives help with lubrication, power generation, sealing, and heat transfer. Without them, your jack may not work as efficiently or last as long as it should.

When using a hydraulic jack, it’s essential that everything is working properly. You want to be able to lift heavy objects without any issues while also remaining safe and stable at all times. Poor quality lubrication or malfunctioning seals could lead to dangerous situations or cause damage to your vehicle.

So we recommend investing in an appropriate hydraulic jack oil for maximum safety and efficiency. Sure, it may be tempting to use vegetable oil as a backup solution, but is it really worth risking your safety for an untested substitution?

Can I use transmission fluid in place of hydraulic fluid?

To be honest, the answer really depends on the type of transmission fluid you’re considering as a substitute.

Here’s the deal: both transmission fluids and hydraulic jacks share some similarities in their additive compositions, but they can differ greatly when it comes to viscosity ratings. That being said, there are cases where certain types of transmission fluids might work well enough as replacements, while others may actually cause harm due to differences in their frictional properties.

My personal recommendation? Stick with OEM or manufacturer-recommended hydraulic jack oil products whenever possible. If for some reason you find yourself without any other choice but to use transmission fluid, do yourself a favor – take the time to consult your manual or reach out to technical support before making that potentially risky switch.

What Is The Best Oil to Use In A Hydraulic Jack?

When it comes to maintaining your hydraulic jack, selecting the right oil is key. Using the wrong type of hydraulic oil can cause serious damage and could even lead to failure of your equipment – something I’m sure none of us want to experience.

That’s why I suggest utilizing Liquid Wrench® Hydraulic Jack Oil, which is specially formulated to suit all sorts of hydraulic jacks along with refillable shock absorbers and snow plows. The best aspect about this oil is that it seamlessly blends with all other typical hydraulic jack fluids, rendering it trouble-free to utilize.

But what sets this oil apart from others is its SAE 10 weight rating, making it ideal for moderate temperatures and adaptable to various loads. Additionally, with an ISO rating of 22, it displays its viscosity at specific temperatures.


Although several alternatives are on offer for those looking to substitute traditional hydraulic jack oil in their operations, selecting an appropriate one often requires expert guidance and prior knowledge of the system’s capabilities and limitations based on manufacturer guidance.

Always consult with an industry professional before committing any form of galling substance in your equipment or machinery application to prevent unnecessary downtime that may arise from inadequate lubrication or premature failure of certain machine parts due to less-than-ideal pressure conditions caused by ill-suited substitutes.

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