Is transmission fluid flammable?

Is transmission fluid flammable? If you spend any time working on your car, then you know that from time to time you need to top up or change your transmission fluid. But is it safe to do it yourself, or do you risk a major fire doing it? The good news is that if you take sensible precautions, handling transmission fluid is reasonably safe and unlikely to start a major fire, and here’s why.


Transmission fluid can catch fire, but OSHA defines it as a combustible fluid and not a flammable fluid, because it has a flash point greater than 199.4 degrees Fahrenheit. The flash point of transmission fluid is between 302 and 383 degrees Fahrenheit (150 and 195 Celsius).


So let’s take a look at the reasons why transmission fluid isn’t technically a flammable fluid, although it can catch fire. We’ll also look at how this affects safety when working on your car.

Can transmission fluid (ATF) catch fire?

Yes, transmission fluid can catch fire, although under the most common circumstances, it won’t.

Transmission fluid doesn’t burn as easily as, say, lighter fluid or gasoline, and that means it needs to get a little hot before it can catch fire.

At what temperature will it light up?

Transmission fluid can catch fire at 300 degrees and above since that is the estimated flash point. When a liquid is heated to or above its flash point, that means it is giving off enough vapors to catch fire.

But for this to happen, there must be a spark or other source of ignition.

Because the flash point is above 199.4 degrees Fahrenheit, it is labeled by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) standard 29 CFR 1910.106 as a non-flammable liquid.

Transmission fluid will automatically ignite (catch fire spontaneously) at about 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Self-ignition means that it can catch fire at that temperature without an external ignition source.

That’s pretty hot, and as we’ve already noted, it’s not likely to happen under normal circumstances.

However, it’s worth noting that welding or grinding can easily produce by-products that are hotter than this and cause your transmission fluid to catch fire, so try to keep the two separate.

It’s also good to understand that if the fluid ends up as a mist or spray, it can ignite at much lower than 400 degrees, so try to avoid this whenever possible.

What happens if it burns?

If the transmission fluid is overheated in the transmission, you will smell a burning smell and this is the time when you should call a mechanic and reserve your vehicle for service because this is not good for it.

The main symptoms of burnt transmission fluid are a smoky/burning smell, transmission fluid is leaking from the transmission and is a darker color than the usual red, and you will have some trouble shifting gears.

Transmission fluid leaking from the transmission may end up on a hot surface of the engine and ignite.

Can you start a fire?

Yes, transmission fluid can cause a fire. The most likely scenario for it to start a fire is when it leaks from the transmission into your engine.

(Though it’s unlikely to catch fire when you’re filling up your vehicle’s fluid.)

Therefore, it is very important to follow the proper process for filling your transmission with fluid and occasionally inspect the transmission and fluid to make sure everything is working properly.

Transmission Fluid Flash Point

The flash point of transmission fluid is between 302 and 383 degrees Fahrenheit (150 to 195 degrees Celsius), depending on the type of transmission fluid.

Again, these are higher than the temperature you will encounter in the normal daily operation of your vehicle and shop, but they can be achieved with certain activities. It is best to try to keep potential sources of heat and sources of sparks away from the transmission fluid.

Can I put transmission fluid in a hot car?

Yes, you can put transmission fluid in a hot car. in fact, you should put transmission fluid in a car with the engine running.

(Although it depends on your definition of “hot” it would be a bad idea to put transmission fluid in a car that was already on fire, for example.)

The correct process is for the engine to be running but idling, with the transmission set to park and the parking brake on.

This is because transmission fluid expands when it passes through a hot transmission.If you add the fluid to a cold car to the top, when you start the car the fluid will expand and have nowhere to go; this will cause a broken transmission and a fluid leak over the engine.


Transmission fluid can catch fire, but it is not technically a flammable fluid. The flash point of transmission fluid is around 300 degrees Fahrenheit and that means transmission fluid is a combustible liquid, not a flammable liquid.

If you weld or grind you can easily reach this number and so it’s worth taking some simple safety precautions like the ones outlined above to make sure you don’t burn down your shop or ruin your car instead of getting it back up and running perfectly again. new.

Is transmission fluid flammable?

Transmission fluid is flammable, although it requires high temperatures to ignite automatically, like many other extremely viscous flammable compounds. Many scientists believe that it is more combustible than flammable due to the high temperature required for its flammability.


Flash point and boiling point are two important parameters to consider when determining the flammability of a fluid. For flammable materials, the flash point is lower than its boiling point.


The flash point of a material is the temperature at which it emits flammable vapors. Transmission fluid has a flash point of approximately 383°F (195°C), which in turn is below the boiling point of 550 to 600°F (288 to 316°C).


However, when dealing with transmission fluid, you don’t have to worry about it being life-threatening. Certainly transmission fluid can catch fire, but in most cases, it won’t.


Due to its very high flash point, transmission fluid does not burn as quickly as lighter fluid or gasoline. Therefore, it must get quite hot before it can catch fire.

How flammable is transmission fluid?

Under normal conditions, transmission fluid is not actually flammable. However, it is combustible and will therefore ignite when heated above its flash point, which ranges from 302°F to 383°F (150 to 195°C).


Transmission fluid is safe to handle under typical operating circumstances within an automated gearbox and will not easily catch fire, even at fairly high temperatures. Although the chances of transmission fluid catching fire are rare, they cannot be ruled out.

Despite having a high flash point, transmission fluid can catch fire in certain situations. Transmission fluid has been reported to catch fire in vehicles after collisions or as a result of significant and ongoing leaks.


Sufficient amount of transmission fluid coming into contact with a hot surface can cause such an intake manifold, typically causing this type of fire to ignite.

What is the flash point of transmission fluid?

Transmission fluid has a flash point that ranges from 302°F to 383°F (150 to 195°C). It is available in a variety of forms and the type of additives used can affect the flash point temperature.


The lowest temperature at which vapors from a material ignite in the presence of an ignition source is the definition of a material’s flash point.


Due to the high flash point of transmission fluid, it is considered combustible rather than flammable. Although it can catch fire, it is very rare for transmission fluid to be the first cause of vehicle fires. It will only be a secondary cause because the vehicle is already burning and heating up beyond its flash point.


Can Transmission Fluid Burn?

In fact, transmission fluid has the potential to burn if a proper ignition source is used or if the fluid is heated above its autoignition temperature. Also, it can catch fire and burn if it comes into contact with a hot surface, such as a hot exhaust pipe or engine block, or it can easily burn if added to a fire that is already burning.


Usually “burnt” transmission fluid is a sign of an automatic transmission problem. In the event that it goes beyond its autoignition temperature, the transmission fluid technically isn’t burning in the conventional sense; instead, it frequently overheats and breaks down.


Transmission fluid can frequently overheat inside if there is not enough fluid in the transmission. The transmission fluid will degrade due to overheating and there will be a burning smell when driving.


However, it can actually catch fire if heated past its flash point, but this is a rare occasion.


Can transmission fluid turn on automatically?

Transmission fluid can automatically ignite at a specific temperature and under specific circumstances, just like any other fluid in your car.


The autoignition temperature of a material is the lowest temperature at which it will spontaneously burn in the absence of an ignition source.


The temperature at which a material can self-ignite, also known as its flash point, varies with altitude, humidity, and the atmospheric pressure of the surrounding environment.


The autoignition temperature of the transmission fluid varies depending on its location and the surrounding environment at the time. When tested inside a sealed heated container, the autoignition temperature of transmission fluid, for example, drops significantly to less than 600°F (316°C) from its reported value of 900°F (482°C). in a heated catalytic converter.


Because it provides the necessary activation energy for combustion to occur, the high temperature is what causes autoignition.

Can I put transmission fluid in a hot car?

It is not ideal to put transmission fluid in a very hot or cold car. Two markings, commonly labeled “Cold” and “Hot”, are frequently scattered on the dipstick. They may occasionally have the labels “Add” and “Complete”. You want the level to be somewhere in the “Warm” range.


Sometimes there may not be any word on the dipstick. The liquid level range you want to be in is indicated by dots, notches, or lines adjacent to each label.


Every car is different, so there is no specific rule that applies to all of them. However, most auto manufacturers recommend adding transmission fluid while the engine is running. This is because transmission fluid expands when it gets hot, so if you add it while the engine is completely cold, you risk overfilling your transmission.


Overfilling the transmission can cause gaskets to blow or even destroy the pump in the transmission.

To make sure you’re doing it the right way, there are a few recommended steps when it comes to the transmission fluid filling process. These notices are generally recommended by car manufacturers and should be heeded.

Why is transmission fluid not flammable?

As we have just established, a liquid is only considered flammable if it has a flash point below 100°F. The flash point of transmission fluid has a wide range, but can be as high as 383°F, which puts it well above the point of being considered flammable.

This is a very important property for a vehicle chemist to possess, as temperatures inside a vehicle can often be very high. In fact, the internal temperature of an engine and transmission system is usually around 195°F, which is almost hot enough to boil water.

This means that when a vehicle is operating normally, it will not get hot enough for the transmission fluid inside to ignite and cause a dangerous fire in the transmission system or engine.

Similarly, the boiling point of transmission fluid is even higher, around 600°F, which means there is no risk of the fluid boiling as it would catch fire first.

Can transmission fluid continue to catch fire?

So all of this means that transmission fluid is definitely a combustible, non-flammable liquid. However, this does not mean that it is impossible for it to catch fire.

If the transmission fluid is in an environment where its temperature could exceed 383°F, its vapor will still ignite in air and burn extremely quickly.

The only thing is that the temperature should never be exceeded in normal working conditions, such as in a tank in a garage or even in a normal vehicle transmission system.

The only danger of transmission fluid igniting is if it gets into an open flame or spark. For example, a match flame can be as hot as 1100°F-1400°F, making it hot enough to ignite the vapors given off by the fluid.

So while this may seem obvious, you should always keep your transmission fluid away from open flames and sparks!

How to Store and Use Transmission Fluid Safely

In many workshops and garages, flames and sparks are quite unavoidable, depending on the type of projects being worked on. However, there are still some safety guidelines that need to be followed when transmission fluid is present.

First of all, you should always keep the liquid locked up in its container. The containers that transmission fluid is sold in are always designed to withstand the heat of sparks and flame burns.

This does not mean that they are completely fireproof, so they will not be safe if left over an open flame for a while. However, as long as you keep the cap on the container, there is very little chance of the transmission fluid accidentally igniting.

Obviously you can’t keep the liquid inside your container all the time, otherwise it would be useless! Anytime you need to pour some into your vehicle to use it, you want to make sure your work area is well away from anyone else working with flames or sparks.

Sparks are considerably more common in a typical garage or workshop, especially if those around you are cutting metal items for vehicles.

To keep you and everyone around you safe, you should only use transmission fluid when everyone nearby has stopped sparking.


Hopefully, you now know a lot more about the fire hazards associated with transmission fluid. While it is not technically flammable, there is still a risk that it could catch fire if introduced to an ignition source such as open flames and sparks.

However, if you follow the safety steps we’ve outlined in this article, you should have no problem using transmission fluid safely with your vehicle.

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