Best Substitutes for Hydraulic Fluid: Know What to Use

Best Substitutes for Hydraulic Fluid Know What to Use

Hydraulic fluid is a liquid that is used in many different machines and devices. It helps to provide power for the machine, which then moves parts of the machine or performs some other function.

This type of fluid is often very expensive, so it may be tempting to use something else instead; however, you will want to make sure you have a good idea as to what substitutes are best for your particular situation before you do this just because it can cost more money than if you originally bought hydraulic fluid.

We will discuss several items that can work well as substitutes for hydraulic fluid below!

The Importance of Hydraulic Fluid for Your Vehicle

Hydraulic fluid is a type of lubricant that protects and cools the moving parts in hydraulic oil pumps, valves, cylinders, etc. It also has excellent resistance to water, so it can be used on wet surfaces without fear of corrosion or electrical shock.

The hydraulic fluid in your car is what moves the brake and clutch pedal, so it’s important to make sure you have a good supply of this. If you’re going on a long drive or plan to do heavy work with your vehicle, then it would be wise to bring some extra hydraulic fluid along just in case something goes wrong!

The Best Substitutes for Hydraulic Fluid That Are Available on The Market Today

There are many different types of hydraulic fluids for specific purposes; however, some common substitutes you might encounter include water, petroleum jelly, and even air.

  • Water: If there is no hydraulic fluid available, you can use water instead. This doesn’t work as well in some machines because it may cause ice to form, and the machine will stop working; however, if you’re using your car’s brake or clutch pedal, then this might not be a problem!
  • Oil: Oil is a great substitute for hydraulic fluid that can be used in machines such as an engine. Oil has the power to move metal parts and gears, so it’s not much different from what you need when using your car!
  • Brake Fluid: If you’re like many other people who have cars or motorcycles, then brake fluid can be a good substitute for hydraulic fluid. It has similar properties and can work in many different machines, which makes it an excellent choice! Do consider what size hydraulic pump for log splitter, so you don’t make a mistake.
  • Nitromethane: If you’re using your car’s clutch, then nitromethane is another great alternative to hydraulic fluid. This substance will help the machine move parts quickly without any problems at all.
  • Radiator Fluid: This type of substitute for hydraulic fluid would be best if you are working on a cooling system or another type of machine that requires heat. Radiator fluid can help move the parts in these machines, making your work much easier!
  • Acid or Muriatic Acid: This is an excellent substitute for hydraulic fluid if you need something that is going to be able to dissolve materials and clean off surfaces well, such as metal. If you need to use this, however, make sure it is diluted heavily as too much can be very dangerous!
  • Gelatin: This type of substitute for hydraulic fluid would work best in places that are cold or dry. If the machine needs a little bit more lubrication due to these conditions, then gelatin might just do the trick!
  • I. Water: D.I. Water is a good substitute for hydraulic fluid in low-pressure applications.
  • Petroleum Jelly: It can be used as an emergency lubricant and sealer.

How Do You Know When to Change Your Oil or What Type of Substitute Should Be Used at That Time?

Tips for Storing and Using Different Types of Substitutes for Hydraulic Fluid

There are a few signs that will tell you when you should change your oil, like a high engine temperature or the car’s oil consumption. You can also find a “due date” on the owner’s manual. If you use a substitute for hydraulic fluid, make sure to use one with the same viscosity and lubricating properties as the original.

Tips for Storing and Using Different Types of Substitutes for Hydraulic Fluid

Water: if you’re using water as a substitute for hydraulic fluid, then make sure it is clean and free of debris, dirt, or other small particles. You’ll also want to avoid freezing in the wintertime when storing!

Oil: this type of substitution will work really well if you plan on driving your car; however, if you’re using this for something else, then make sure it is diluted heavily!

It is important to store your fluids properly so that they do not leak or dry out over time. This includes storing them upside down, so the fluid does not settle at the bottom of a container! The best way to keep track of how much you have left in your containers is by using an inventory sheet like the one here.

A List of Common Mistakes People Make When Trying to Substitute Their Own Fluids at Home, So They Don’t Have to Drive All Over Town Looking for The Right One

  • Mixing different types of fluids together can lead to air bubbles and toxic fumes
  • Using the wrong type of fluid, such as oil instead of hydraulic fluid, will not work well or at all in your specific application. Be sure it is compatible with your other equipment!


In conclusion, we hope you’ve found this information helpful in learning about what to use if your vehicle needs a replacement of the original hydraulic fluids that were lost or running low. If not, we encourage you to ask us any questions by leaving a comment below!

Thomas Anderson
A veteran in the world of engineering, Thomas Anderson holds a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Cambridge. His journey began in the aerospace industry, where he spent 15 years developing advanced hydraulic systems. In 2015, he transitioned to a consulting role, guiding various firms in integrating efficient hydraulic solutions. Thomas has been contributing to our platform since 2019, enriching our content with his depth of knowledge and practical experience. Aside from his professional pursuits, he is passionate about mentoring young engineers and indulges in mountain biking, exploring the dynamics of motion and force.

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