Is Transmission Fluid Flammable?

by

Nearly all fluids you find in the engine compartment will catch on fire under the right temperature and conditions.

Automatic transmission fluid is no different, under the right conditions it does have a flashpoint which technically makes it flammable.

Is transmission fluid likely to catch fire? No, not very likely.

As the saying goes, possible but not probable, for those who like stats.

transmission fluid being hand poured

Can Transmission Fluid Catch on Fire?

When transmission fluid is sprayed onto metal tubing at 1000°F transmission fluid will flash fire.

When you look at CITGO SDS about automatic transmission fluid it states:

  • Flashpoint ; Open cup: 194°C (381.2°F)
  • Lower & Upper explosive flammable limits; Not available

When you read Chevron’s SDS on automatic transmission fluid it states:

  • (Cleveland Open Cup) 178 °C (352 °F)
  • Autoignition & Explosive Flammability : Not available

The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) has is at rating 1 for Flammability.

So, will automatic transmission fluid catch fire? Technically, Yes.

orange flame graphic

When is Transmission Fluid Flammable?

So the circumstances that have occurred in real life where transmission fluid has reached a flammable point, is when a transmission fluid leak leaks onto a very hot exhaust pipe.

Sorry Ford lovers, but this has most commonly occurred on Fords.

What temperature does transmission fluid ignite?

So the common test used on transmission fluid is the Cleveland Open Cup test to determine flashpoint.

Feel free to read more about how this test works to determine flashpoint (really cool stuff!).

From what the SDS of different brands of automatic transmission fluid have stated, it varies a bit per brand.

Auto-ignition and and explosive data always say no data, so you don’t need to stress about that.

Here is a chart with some of the brands and there flashpoint temperature:

BrandFlashpoint
CITGO381.2°F
CHEVRON352 °F
RED LINE OIL298 °F

General Car Fire Tips

If you are ever in a circumstance where you see smoke coming from your vehicle, here are general tip’s of what to do:

  • Stop car away from people/buildings
  • Get yourself and other passengers out and away
  • Determine whether to solve the issue or call for help. (Read here for things to consider)

Transmission Fluid Flash Point Details [2020]

1 thought on “Is Transmission Fluid Flammable?”

  1. A hydraulic oil is the medium through which hydraulic power is transferred. It contains oils and additives that transmit power and act as a coolant and lubricant. Hydraulic oil can be used at a variety of temperatures. It also reduces corrosion, wear and rust in equipment.

    Hydraulic oil can be used for many of the same reasons that oil, but is more widely used in automobile systems such as automatic transmissions, power brakes, and steering. Hydraulic fluids are also required for aircraft systems. When choosing oil for your aircraft, you must consider the viscosity.

    Hydraulic system mainly consists of five main parts:

    1. Pump

    2. Valve

    3. Piston

    4. Filtering system

    5. Cooling system

    Reply

Leave a Comment