RC Shock Oil Alternative [Different Options Explored] 

You’re running short on shock oil and your local RC shop doesn’t carry any. In such a case, an RC shock oil alternative can save your day. But we understand it’s not easy to choose an alternative to the shock oil.  

So, wondering what might be the perfect RC shock oil alternative?

Various types of oils can be used as RC shock oil alternatives. But the key factor you have to note is their viscosity. If they fit with your RC and deliver satisfactory performance then you are good to go. These alternatives can be automotive transmission oil, power steering oil, motor oil, cooking oil, etc. 

Well, these are just to name a few. But there are many things you need to consider before you use any. So for more details keep on scrolling. 

Is Using Alternatives of Shock Oil Safe? 

Using RC shock oil replacement is safe but there are a few considerations. Firstly, you need to maintain a required weight limit. Otherwise, you might risk damaging your RC shocks. 

So, what can I use for RC shock oil?

Normally, instead of regular shock oils, it’s recommended to use silicone shock oil. This is because silicone-based oil, unlike other oil alternatives, doesn’t damage the shocks. However, if it’s an emergency then you can use motor oil. But that too at your own risk. Just don’t use any oil that’ll go rancid because of the high temperature.   

Long story short, you can use a number of alternatives for your top notch rc crawler shocks while keeping the weight limit in mind. 

Now let’s learn which things you should consider before getting a shock oil alternative.

What Should You Consider Before Getting the Alternatives? 

Shock oil adjusts the damping of your vehicle. Now, these oils are bought in tiny containers normally from 10wt to 100wt. The greater the amount, the more dense the oil.

Basically, the problem here might be that thick oil actually makes the car slow. Conversely, lighter oil makes the car more active. That’s why RC shock oil weight differences play an important role here.

Commonly, lighter oil is good for turbulent situations. However, it enables better chassis rotation. Thicker oil is good for flat roads, yet the car might become sluggish. 

Here we have prepared an RC shock oil weight chart down below. In this chart, we’ve converted the RC shock oil CST to WT for your better understanding.

Before we get to the chart, here’s what these terms mean. CST is a world standard rating of oil viscosity. So the brands that use this rating can be mixed together. On the other hand, WT or weight isn’t a world standard rating. So it can vary from brand to brand.

Now, let’s take a look at the chart:

CSTTLR WTAssociated WT

Now you can match your RC’s requirement to the chart and find the appropriate oil.

Mainly, you have to check a few things as listed:

  • the weight of your car
  • the length of the absorber
  • how stuffy the springs are and 
  • how many chasms are on the pistons

After checking and matching the requirements you can use your desired oil. But try to stick to either one of the values between CST and WT. It’s because they aren’t similar or comparable and might create incorrect calculations.

For a clearer understanding, here are a few examples:

  • For touring cars it’s recommended to use 400CST for both rear and front. This is because the similar reaction of the shocks is very crucial for these cars. 
  • For Buggies and Truggies use 400-600cst shock oil in the front. Then, use 350-500cst in the rear. This type of car’s rear becomes more ‘uneasy’ in heavy shock oil. Here, shock oil should develop enough damping which won’t allow the rear to bounce excessively.   

The thing is, there’s this whole universe of rc shock oils. And that’s why it deserves some special kind of attention. To be more specific, it deserves a full on explanation

Now that we’ve seen a couple of examples, let’s check out the alternatives. 

So, What Can You Use Instead of Shock Oil? 

Now to choose the perfect alternative it’s important to understand the  RC shock oil differences. RC shock oil differs in weight and density. It happens based on the spring rate and length of your car. So it’s important to understand the oil substance and weight variations. 

Let’s find out if there’s actually any oil that can replace shock oil.

Can You Use Transmission Oil as Shock Oil?

Yes, you can use 100% synthetic Automatic transmission fluid as an RC shock oil substitute. This is because the substance of this is quite similar to shock oil. Still, ATF doesn’t have some of the supplements that specialized shock oils have. 

Generally, the base stock and additives decide the thickness of an oil. The ATF has a base stock with minimal viscosity, hence it’s lighter in weight. So you can use it for damper rod forks.    

Here we have a tip that will be applicable to this and for all the alternatives. Study the product data sheets of the ATF and the fork oil to compare. 

Check out the viscosity at 40°C. 

The thing is, viscosity is a range, not a specific weight. So one brand’s 5WT is probably heavier or lighter than another brand. That’s why compare the current product and the product you’re changing to. 

Doing this will make it easier for you to understand the whole thing!

Can You Use Power Steering Oil as Shock Oil?

Yes, you can use power steering oil as alternative RC shock oil. In this case, follow the above-mentioned tip as well. Then, find a nearly similar power steering oil to your preferred weight shock oil. 

Keep in mind that power steering oil is developed to be contraction-less. This is so that, it lubricates inner functioning particles and prevents rust in hydraulic systems. Moreover, it would be fine in an aluminum shock. 

But, it might not be compatible with a plastic shock. Because plastic shocks are vulnerable to heat and chemical reactions. However, if you perfect the required weight it might become compatible. If that’s the case you should be good to go. 

Here are some of the best power steering oils suggestions for your shocks. Take a look:

By the way you can also use any above-mentioned power steering oils to ease your tough and stiff wheel.

Can you Use Motor Oil as Shock Oil?

Yes, you can use full synthetic motor oil as silicone RC shock oil. But it should be just for the semi-bath in lower shocks. This is because this oil is just for lubrication purposes. 

Motor oil isn’t appropriate for damping or open-bath lubrication. Because the motor oil is usually too thick for the damper fork. Therefore, it results in bad compression with harsh performance. 

Another issue with motor oil is they’re temperature sensitive. Its viscosity changes a lot in different temperatures. So, if you use motor oil in your shocks it’ll start to freeze in cold weather. Therefore, the oil will be too thick to work as a damper in the shocks.

However, it’s all about fluid dynamics or motions. It can work well with your shocks. Only if you can manage to find the right required weight

Can You Use Cooking Oil in RC Shocks?

Yes, cooking oil can be a good alternative to low shock oil. This oil is quite light. Hence, it’ll rebound fine and not too bad on the action. For instance, it won’t be too harsh or sluggish when you use it. 

A 35WT cooking olive oil sounds about right to use as shock oil. Just remember to change it frequently. Otherwise, it might get a little difficult to wipe out when you start using shock oil. 

Can You Use Multi-Purpose Grease as an Alternative? 

No, it’s not wise to use multi-purpose grease. More specifically, you shouldn’t use lithium grease. This is because they are too thick for RC shocks. 

Also, another downside of lithium grease is it melts too quickly in high temperatures. Base oil properties of these greases are 700-800 SUS at 100°F and 140-150cst at 104°F. So, if you use the grease it’ll start to leak when the shock is heated. 

However, if the requirement fits with your required rate then it can work fine. For example, when you want a more bouncy and smooth run you can give it a try. But you should always use it in small amounts and use it as your last option.

Is RC Diff Oil the Same as Shock Oil? 

Basically, RC diff oil and shock oil are the same as both of them are silicone-based. They only slightly differ in viscosity. Different brands use different grades for both diff and shock oil. 

It also means you can use shock oil as a diff oil alternative or vice versa. But you need to match your oil weight to the one you’re changing to. 

Generally, cars use 80-90WT diff oil. However, this might be too heavy to give you the desired results, especially for your RC crawler. Since diff oil is thicker it won’t flow smoothly through the shock piston holes. 

But if you’re racing you can use the thicker diff oil in your shocks. Because the temperature rises during the day. Hence, the thick oil will eventually melt and that’ll keep the damping the same.

On the other hand, shock oil is too thin for diff gears. As a result, your diff gear would just throw it off and it’ll be totally useless. In this case, your gears are probably to grind and scrape off. 

Here’s a trick you can use. If your diff and shock oil both are from the same brand you can mix them

For example, you can mix 50-50 of 400cst shock oil with 800cst diff oil. It’ll give you approximately 600cst oil. That’s how you can make your diff oil thinner to use it for your shocks. In case, there isn’t enough shock oil left for your car.

That’s all we have on shock oil alternatives!


How much oil do I put in my RC shocks?

You should load the top with oil up to 1–2 mm from the edge. But don’t fill up fully because the bladder takes up some room in the lid. You can modify the rebound to boost damping with the bladder lids.

Can I use vegetable oil in my RC shocks?

Yes, you can use vegetable oil in your RC shocks. However, it might result in some issues. Because vegetable oil is likely to be inconsistent in cold weather. 

What weight shock oil should I use?

It actually depends on your vehicle’s requirement. However, you can start from 35 wt and go from there according to your need. You can use 60-80wt shock oil for on-road use. 


Hope you’ve found your proper RC shock oil alternative. If you’ve got no option you can even use baby oil and walnut oil. These oils might align with your desired requirements. But it’s smart to use shock oil only to avoid any further uncertain damages. 

That’s all for now, take care!