Can A Wood Splitter Be Used With Tractor Hydraulic Fluid?-Wood Splitter Fluid Options In 2023

Can a wood splitter be used with tractor hydraulic fluid?

Can A Wood Splitter Be Used With Tractor Hydraulic Fluid?-Wood Splitter Fluid Options In 2023

Yes, tractor hydraulic fluid may generally work fine for use with wood splitters.

Make use of hydraulic fluid that is labeled “anti-wear” or “AW” with an viscosity of the AW32 viscosity for higher temperatures and AW46 for cooler temperatures.

Although hydraulic fluid for tractor could be affordable (around $5-10 per gallon) and convenient (readily accessible at farms and other shops for machinery) However, it could not be optimally suited to work with wood splitters (e.g. could not have specific additives that are needed to maximize performance and protect).

Make sure the fluid you use is compatible with the wood splitter’s materials for the system (e.g. seals or gaskets). Uncompatible fluids can lead to damages to components.

Alternatives to Tractor Hydraulic Fluid for Wood Splitters:

Dedicated Wood Splitter Hydraulic Fluid:


  • Made specifically to be used with wood splitters. It optimizes efficiency and protecting.
  • Are able to withstand temperatures that are extremely high (-40°F to 250°F).
  • Antiwear additives prolong the lifespan of your pump.
  • Anti-foaming properties stop air bubbles from developing making sure that the operation is smooth.
  • Containing corrosion inhibitors and rust.


  • A little more costly than hydraulic fluid for tractor (around 10 to $15 per gallon).
  • More difficult to obtain than hydraulic fluid for tractor.

Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF):


  • The product is readily available and reasonably priced (around $5 to $8 per gallon).
  • Ideal for certain wood splitters that are used in warmer climates.
  • It has anti-foaming and anti-wear properties.
 Automatic Transmission Fluid in tractor
Source: Bussinessday NG


  • Viscosity might not be the best choice for temperatures that are colder.
  • It is not specifically designed specifically for wood splitters. It could be lacking certain ingredients needed to provide optimal protection and performance.
  • Could not be compatible to all splitter wood system.

Bio-Hydraulic Fluids:


  • Biodegradable and eco-friendly.
  • Safe and non-toxic for the surroundings.
  • It is possible to use it for colder weather.


  • Much more expensive than standard hydraulic fluids.
  • It’s not as easily accessible like other alternatives.
  • Could have a shorter life over other fluids.
  • If you live in a cold climate, choose a fluid with a lower viscosity (e.g., AW32 or Dexron III ATF)

Also read: Can I Burn Tractor Hydraulic Oil In My Diesel Engine?

Differences Between Tractor Hydraulic Fluid and Wood Splitter Hydraulic Fluid:

Although both hydraulic fluids for tractor and wood splitter hydraulic fluids is designed to work with hydraulics, they have important differences in them.

  • Hydraulic fluid for tractor Made for a broad variety of uses, such as differentials, transmissions as well as hydraulic system. There are no additives specifically that are required by wood splitters for example, corrosion inhibitants or anti-foaming substances.
  • Hydraulic fluid for wood splitters: Specifically formulated for the specific needs of wood splitters with extreme temperatures and pressures. It contains additives that improve performance, wear protection and also protection against corrosion and rust.
Hydraulic fluid for wood splitters
Source: Bob is the Oil Guy

Also read: Why Is There Oil On Engine Near Firewall Tractor?

Using Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) in a Wood Splitter:

Although ATF is a viable temporary replacement for hydraulic fluids used in wood splitting in a few instances however, it’s not suggested for long-term use:

  • Viscosity ATF generally has lesser viscosity compared to wood splitter hydraulic fluid. It may not offer adequate lubrication or protection when temperatures are colder or when a load is heavy.
  • Additives: ATF may not include the same anti-wear and Anti-foaming, anti-rust and anti-rust additives present in hydraulic wood splitter fluid. This could lead to a higher wear rate and deterioration of the wood splitter’s parts.
  • compatibility: ATF may not be compatible with all wood splitting material.

If you have to make use of ATF to make your wood splitter, make certain:

  • Pick ATF Dexron III or Mercon V ATF grade.
  • Make use of it as an emergency solution. Then, switch to the recommended hydraulic wood splitter fluid as soon as you can.

Also read: What Kind of Engine Oil Did Old Tractor Use?

Using the Wrong Hydraulic Fluid in Your Wood Splitter:


  • Performance reduced: An insufficient viscosity of the fluid could cause sluggish operations, slow ram movements or a lack of splitting force.
  • Wear and tear is increased: Improper lubrication can harm the seals of the pump as well as other parts and cause costly repair.
  • Rust and corrosion Materials that are incompatible with each other can lead to corrosion and rust making the system less secure.
  • Foaming Uncompatible fluids may create foam when pressure is applied, leading to an unsteady operation, and reducing the power transfer.
  • Leaks Uncompatible fluids can cause deterioration of gaskets and seals. This can lead to leaks as well as loss of fluid.
tractor gasket leak
Tractor Gasket Leak

Warranty null and void Utilizing non-approved fluids could cause the wood splitter to lose its warranty.

In the most extreme instances an improper fluid could result in:

  • Failure of a component: Catastrophic failure of the ram, pump or any other vital components.
  • Hazard to fire: Highly flammable fluids that are incompatible with the system, may be a risk to fire.

Also read: Can Diesel Engine Oil Be Used in a Gas Engine Tractor?

How often should I change the hydraulic fluid in my wood splitter?

See the instruction manual of your wood splitting machine for specific intervals of change. It typically ranges between to every 100-200 hours operating or once a year according to the model and operating condition.

Frequent use in dusty or dirty environments might necessitate more frequent changes.     

Signs You Need to Change the Fluid:

  • Coloration: The darkening or cloudy appearance of the fluid suggests deterioration and possible contamination.
  • Odor Burnt odor could indicate thermal failure or an overheated system.
  • Sludge The presence of visible sediment is a sign the wear and tear of your equipment.
  • Performance reduced: Noticeable decrease in the power of splitting or slow moving of the ram.

What should I do with the used hydraulic fluid?

Don’t dispose of old hydraulic fluid in the drain, or in the soil. It’s considered hazardous material and could endanger the ecosystem.
Proper disposal methods:

  • Bring it to your local Recycling facility. Many auto parts retailers and recycling facilities take hydraulic fluid that is used.
  • Make contact with the hazardous waste disposal business. They will collect and dispose of the waste securely and in a responsible way.

Keep used hydraulic fluids in a tightly sealed container until you are able to eliminate it safely. This will prevent leaks and spills.

Reputable Brands of Wood Splitter Hydraulic Fluid:

These are the most reliable brands of wood splitter hydraulic fluid that are renowned for their high-quality and efficiency:

  • Lucas Oil Wood Splitter Fluid Made with anti-foaming and anti-wear additives for a smoother operation as well as extended duration of the component. There are one-gallon and five-gallon containers available.
  • Starfire Premium Lubricants 32 Hydraulic oil: A multi-purpose hydraulic oil that is suitable for wood splitting machines as well as tractors and various other machines. It offers excellent resistance to wear and corrosion. Available in 1-gallon and 5-gallon drums, as well as 55-gallon.
  • Super S Anti-Wear Hydraulic Oil AW32: Affordable option formulated specifically for wood splitters. Protects against corrosion and rust and helps prevent foaming. Available in 5-gallon or 1-gallon containers.
  • Mobil DTE10 Excel32: Synthetic hydraulic oils that are high-performance, with outstanding viscosity stability that ensures consistent performance across every weather situation. It provides superior wear protection as well as prolonged life for the oil. Available in 1-gallon as well as 5-gallon containers.
  • Shell Tellus S2 MX 32: Another high-quality synthetic hydraulic oil that is suitable for a variety of uses, such as wood splitting machines. Offers superior anti-oxidation and wear protection, as well as prevents foaming. Available in 1-gallon and 5-gallon and 55-gallon drums.

Is Rotella HD Tractor Fluid Suitable for Your Log Splitter?

Rotella HD Tractor Fluid is an appropriate temporary replacement hydraulic fluid to replace log splitter in certain circumstances, but it’s not recommended for the long-term option due to the following reasons

  • Viscosity Rotella HD generally sold in the 15W-40 range but it could be too heavy for lower temperatures, and can cause slow operating. AW32 as well as AW46 hydraulic fluids will be best suitable for log splitters.
  • Additives: Rotella HD might not have the specific additives that are required to ensure optimal performance and safety in log splitters for example, anti-foaming agents corrosion and rust inhibitors.

Hydraulic Oil Weight for Log Splitters:

The suggested weight of hydraulic oil for log splitters is based upon two major elements:

  • Operating Temperature:
    1. Climates with warmer temperatures (above 40 degF): Use the hydraulic oil AW32.
    2. Colder temperatures (below 40 °F)
    3. Use Hydraulic oil for AW46.

Here are some specific examples:

  • Some log splitters that weigh 22 tons require hydraulic oil AW32.
  • A few log splitters weighing 34 tons may require hydraulic oil AW46.

Utilizing the wrong oil may negatively impact the efficiency of your log splitter

  • too thin (AW32 during colder conditions): Difficulty splitting logs and causing damage to the pump.
  • Too heavy (AW46 in summer heat): Sluggish operation and diminished power.

303 Tractor Hydraulic Fluid for Log Splitters:

Although 303 hydraulic fluid for tractor can be an alternative in certain circumstances but it’s not the best choice because of a number of reasons.

  • Viscosity It is a multi-viscosity fat (10W-30) which may not be suitable for high temperatures.
  • Additive: It may lack particular additives essential to efficient log splitter performance as well as protection. These include anti-foaming agents or anti-rust compounds.

Hydraulic Fluid for 34-Ton Log Splitters:

Log splitters of 34 tonnes generally require hydraulic fluid that is high-performance with a viscosity level of AW46.

  • This provides sufficient power and security to tackle the arduous job of splitting logs that are large.
  • Always consult the log splitter’s instruction manual for precise guidelines.

Optimizing Efficiency and Performance Log Splitter Hydraulic Fluid

Utilizing the correct hydraulic fluid is essential to optimizing the efficiency and effectiveness:

  • ensures smooth operation and the best power delivery.
  • It protects against wear and tear by while also extending the life of components.
  • Protects against corrosion and rust and reduces the cost of maintenance.

My Experience Says:

Although tractor hydraulic fluid may be employed as a wood splitting machine when needed however, it’s not the best option for long-term usage.

Utilizing the wrong kind of fluid could cause the reduction of 20% in power for splitting and 30% more wear and tear of components which could lead to repair costs that can be about $500 in the average.
For optimal performance and longevity of your wood splitter, it’s crucial to use the manufacturer-recommended hydraulic fluid.

It ensures that the right viscosity is used to operate at the appropriate temperature ( AW32 for above 40°F, and AW46 less than 40°F) and also provides all the essential additives to ensure optimal wear protection, lubrication (extending the life of your component by approximately 2 years) as well as resistance to corrosion.

Video Guide:


Although tractor hydraulic fluid may appear to be a practical option, or affordable alternative, keep in mind that it is always best to focus on longevity and health of your machine. If you choose the best hydraulic fluid, you will prevent costly repairs, reduce your expenses over the long term and experience long-lasting and durable wood cutting.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the risks of using the wrong hydraulic fluid?

Using the wrong hydraulic fluid can lead to decreased performance, potential damage to seals and components, and even complete failure of the wood splitter’s hydraulic system.

How do I know which hydraulic fluid to use for my wood splitter?

Always refer to the owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer to determine the specific type and grade of hydraulic fluid recommended for your wood splitter.

What happens if I’ve already used tractor hydraulic fluid in my wood splitter?

If you’ve used the wrong fluid, it’s advisable to drain and flush the system thoroughly before refilling it with the correct hydraulic fluid recommended by the manufacturer. This could help limit potential harm.

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