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What’s the difference between hydraulic fluid and hydraulic oil?

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The main difference between a hydraulic fluid and a hydraulic oil is down to usage. A hydraulic fluid is employed in the automatic transmissions of automobile systems, but hydraulic oils cannot be utilised for this purpose.

However, hydraulic oil is recognised as the most common form of available hydraulic fluid, leading many people to use these two terms interchangeably, even though they are not the same thing.

What exactly is hydraulic fluid?

Essentially, hydraulic fluid is a medium used to transfer energy transferring within hydraulic systems, like the kind used in hydraulic brakes and by excavators and rubbish collection trucks. While the main use of a hydraulic fluid is to transfer energy, these solutions have multiple benefits, including sealing, lubricating and removing contaminants.

When selecting a hydraulic fluid, companies must consider viscosity. The hydraulic fluid should always offer a minimum viscosity for the highest temperature required during operation. Foaming can be an issue in hydraulic fluid as foam produced can degrade and impact the performance of a hydraulic system. As a result, any foam produced in the fluid should be removed.

How do you define hydraulic oil?

A flammable fluid, hydraulic oil is used for energy transfer within hydraulic systems. Since this lubricant is flammable, it is never a suitable option when a fluid is required where ignition could occur, as under high-pressure conditions any hydraulic oil spray can potentially ignite. For this reason, hydraulic fluid was developed to use as an alternative to hydraulic oil, solving the flammability issue.

Hydraulic oil is manufactured with a base oil and selected additives. It provides an energy transfer medium while cooling and lubricating systems. It can effectively reduce corrosion in hydraulic systems and can perform efficiently under an extensive range of operating temperatures.

What are the most common types of hydraulic oil?

The three most common hydraulic oils are as follows:

General hydraulic oil has excellent oxidation stability and antifriction properties, making it ideal for general-purpose hydraulic machinery
Wear-resistant hydraulic oil is designed for machinery operating under high-pressure and at high temperatures
Flame retardant hydraulic oil is used in machinery where there is potential risk of fire or ignition

In summary, hydraulic oil is a type of hydraulic fluid. However, unlike hydraulic oils, hydraulic fluids are used in automatic transmissions and are an alternative to hydraulic oil when flammability is a potential issue involved in operating environments.

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