Can I use braking fluid or steering fluid on my squeaking table fan? Are they safe? I'm just wondering if I can use anything that's already lying around the house.

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    Break fluid is very corrosive!! – Steven Apr 1 '13 at 13:14

Brake Fluid is not a lubricant, but a glycol based hydraulic fluid designed to have a high boiling point and to absorb water to prevent corrosion (why the brake system should be completely bled out every so often).

Power Steering fluid and Transmission fluid are petroleum based hydraulic fluids, more useful for their ability to transmit pressure, resist heat and work with fluid filled clutches (friction systems) and are not general purpose lubricants, except in the special case of the systems for which they are designed.

You'd almost be better off using engine oil, but its detergent properties are not useful for this type of operation.

Any box store will have 3in1 or turbine oil which are more appropriate for lubricating the shafts on an electric motor.

  • Transmission fluids like Dexron III are lubricants. Don't be silly! – Kaz Apr 1 '13 at 19:29
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    They may have the consistency of 10W engine oil, but their lubricating properties leave much to be desired. My years as a heavy equipment mechanic taught me that quite well. You use lubricating oil, not hydraulic fluid if you want the stuff to stay around and actually lubricate moving parts. Recommending misapplication is very silly. Use lubricants for lubrication, leave the hydraulic fluid for use in hydraulic systems. – Fiasco Labs Apr 1 '13 at 20:22
  • How about Motor Chain Lube? – Giraldi Apr 4 '13 at 13:55
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    Motor Cycle Chain lube perhaps? This tends to be a grease in a solvent that allows the lubricant to penetrate into the links. While it would make a good lubricant for pivot points and oscillating mechanism shafts due to the grease component, you will want a medium weight oil if you're using it on the fan motor bearings. – Fiasco Labs Apr 5 '13 at 3:07

No on the brake fluid and no on the steering fluid. If the fan has a fitting to apply oil use a light oil like 3 in 1 home lubricant. If the fan isn't equipped with an oiling port you will have to disassemble the fan to gain access to the bushings or bearings.


A non-drying oil like Olive oil, or Bacon Grease'll work. A drying oil, like corn or flax oil, will oxidize and form a varnish that glues motor shaft to bushings. That's bad. As mikes implies, a light oil formulated for the purpose is your best choice, and the cost of a small can every decade or two is negligable.

  • I had tried olive oil but the squeaking came back after a few days... or am I not applying it correctly? – Giraldi Apr 2 '13 at 0:14
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    Rendered sheep fat if you're going natural. Olive oil doesn't belong on metal and all the natural stuff oxidizes and plugs the pores in the Oilite Sintered Bronze bushings typically used in fan motors, leading to a worsening of the problem you're trying to cure. – Fiasco Labs Apr 2 '13 at 0:33

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