emergency fluid substitutes?

Discussion in 'Expedition Builds' started by 83 chif, Sep 16, 2008.

  1. 83 chif

    83 chif

    New Jersey
    i'm trying to figure out what substitute fluids I can use in a worse case scenario of running out of spare fluid on the trail.

    i've heard of using atf for power steering fluid, and i've heard of using water in place of brake fluid if you tear a line and loose all of yours, but what other tricks are there?

    i guess you can use motor oil in the difs if you had too, right?

    anything i'm forgetting? anything that you have found to work? thanks!
  2. rusty_tlc

    rusty_tlc Dain Bramaged Member

    Reno, NV
    We had a long talk about motor oil vs gear lube as a single lubricant to carry while were were swapping my front and rear diffs on the trail.

    The concensus was to carry motor oil. Gear lube might be to thick to lube an engine well. OTOH 10-40W will work well enough to get you off the trail in a diff or transmission/t-case traveling at low speed.
  3. What ever you do, do not put tranny fluid in your braking system... Its kinda costly! (ignorant farmers...)
  4. Tools R Us

    Tools R Us

    Chandler, AZ
    If you have an auto trans and only want to carry one fluid, ATF is best, the only system that it wont work in is the brakes.

    From a viscosity standpoint 30W motor oil = 85W gear oil, ATF = ~10W motor oil & ~75W gear oil. The major difference is the additive packages. ATF is a little thin for the motor, would cause foaming in a diff, but would work in a pinch to get it off the trail.

    Brakes really need proper fluid. Water is uncompressible, but the boiling point is way to low, at operating temp it will boil and air in a brake system isn't a good thing! In an extreme pinch, it would be better than nothing, but be very careful.
  5. UglyFJ60


    SW Michigan
    never never never never never never never put ATF into and engine. the 2 oils are not compatible and it turns to glue, gums/plugs oil galleys and may cause your Distributor gear to break. plus ATF starts to break down and loose lubricity @ 165 degrees. think about the heat inside the engine.

    I once drove a 79 F-250 100 miles with no oil in it. I had put prolong in the engine 2 weeks before and blew the front main on the way home from a camping trip. it had so little oil in it the engine was missing because it did not have enough oil to pressurize the lifters. point is I would prolong the engine and run with out oil before i put ATF in it. you want an all around General lubricant to cut down on the fluids you carry ........ get Lucas or royal purple. you can run it in any auto or manual trans, in the engine, and the boxes
  6. lovetoski

    lovetoski SILVER Star

    So on an fj60, motor oil, brake fluid, ATF (for the PS pump) and you'd be covered. Water too for the rad of course.
  7. Tools R Us

    Tools R Us

    Chandler, AZ
    What brand of oil/atf did that for you? I have never never never never never never never seen that happen and have put atf into motors many times.:hillbilly: It’s an “old school” mechanic's trick used to cleanup dirty, sludge motors, drain a couple of quarts, refill with atf, drive a couple of hundred miles, then drain. The different detergents in the atf help clean the motor. What would it possibly have to do with causing your distributor gear to break?

    What brand of atf did you have tested that started to break down and loose lubricity at 165 degrees? Don’t use that junk!:eek: Or think of the heat in an auto trans, most have a normal operating temp of ~180F and when stressed it not uncommon for them to run over 200F.

    That may work for you, but I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone that values their motor! The motors that we are talking about use pressure lubricated plain metal bearings, in other words a hard journal surrounded by a softer metal bearing, setup with a slight gap between them. The gap is pressure filled with oil, in operation the metal surfaces should never touch, they float on a film of oil. If they do touch, most often from lack of oil pressure, permanent bearing damage is done and no snake oil slippery stuff will save them.

    With the exception of brake fluid (not oil based) all automotive fluids are more the same than different, virtually all are made from the same base stock. The differences are in the viscosity and additive packages to deal with the environments that they run in.
  8. Tofudebeest


    P/S fluid and ATF can be used in the P/S pump, but if you lose ALL your p/s fluid, that's 100% OK, you will still be able to drive safely, it will just be difficult to steer at very low speeds. You'll get home, and your arms will have received a nice work out. Brakes...absolutely no substitute for brake fluid, and you should use DOT4 (research if you want to verify, but it is true). P/S and ATF fluids are petroleum-based and are fairly interchangable, and the boiling point is WAY too low for brake use. Even more than steering, there is nothing more important in a vehicle than functioning brakes.

    So, travel with ATF, DOT4, the appropriate motor oil, water and for diesels, a gallon of Wesson (yes, you absolutely can just pour it in the tank and drive, but I wouldn't make a long-term habit of it).
  9. jvazquez53


    San Juan Puerto Rico
    Worst case, no oil; use gear oil, thick but i'll get you home. Also, for the brake system, Coca-cola works. I seen myself both at work. The gear oil, I saw a guy using it to sell a truck that was smoking bad. The person who bought the truck (my brother) kept driving the truck for a few days until he could get some $$ to change the oil. On the brake fluid; we were four wheeling up in the mountains. A friend on a Jeep broke a hydraulic line, we took a vise-grip and clamped the line. The only fluid available was Coke, so we poured in, bled the system, ran like sh.. but we made it home. :cheers:
  10. BC40


    Nelson, BC
    If you're going to drive with the PS dry, disconnect the belt or you will hurt the pump.

    Never put petroleum based anything into the brake hydraulic system, the rubber seals are not compatible. They will swell up and leaks will start up everywhere when the system is pressurized (ie during braking).
  11. sandcruiser


    San Francisco, CA
    The coke in the brakes sounds like a bad idea. You're asking for a catastrophic brake failure.
    You would be better off scrounging a little fluid from everyone else's clutch or brake reservoir if other people are around.

    I'd suggest people carry 2 gallons of motor oil. That will work in the p/s pump in a pinch, great for the most expensive thing (the motor) and functional for the diffs/tranny/tcase. Be sure you are also carrying some sort of plug(s) so that you can be sure that you can keep the fluids where you put them.

    Water. Handy for the radiator.

    In a diesel, I haven't tried it, but I would bet you could get away with a 5gal jerry full of veggie oil. It'll work in the crankcase until it breaks down. It'll work as fuel (so would motor oil, but it would be very smokey) and should work for diffs/tranny as well.

  12. amaurer

    amaurer SILVER Star

    Longmont, CO
    I think some of you are getting carried away - a quart of ATF in the engine oil to clean things out is not the same as using ATF as an oil replacement... thats asking for trouble.

    PS/ATF/brake fluid should be largely interchangeable in a pinch, same for motor oil and gear oil, but a "fluid" should not be substituted for an "oil" or visa versa. These fluids are, in fact, all very different.

    I think I'd carry whatever you realistically expect to need the most of, and then sub it in as required - IMO that means brake fluid and motor oil.

    I have heard that ketchup works good for brake fluid, though

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