Most people think buying transmission fluid for their vehicle is as simple as heading down to the local auto store and asking for a quart or two of transmission fluid, which isn’t the case. The vehicle’s owner’s manual will dictate the correct transmission fluid for your car. If you’re not familiar with the owner’s manual, don’t have a copy of the manual for your car, or can’t find the manual, we suggest trying to search online. Many manuals have been transformed into PDF documents and conveniently posted for public consumption on the Internet. (This is excellent because you can often search for keywords on your phone or tablet!)
Types of Transmission Fluid
There are a couple of different mainstream, widely used types of fluid used in the vehicles on the road today. Using the wrong type in your vehicle can cause irreparable damage to the transmission, requiring excessive work. If you’re uncomfortable or can’t figure out what to buy, please leave it
- Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) – Most automatic vehicles use ATF, the most popular type of fluid on the market. There are subtypes within this category that can be unique to the different makes and models of vehicles. You’ll find the Dexrons, Mercons, and Matic’s fluids all fall within the ATF category, and your vehicle requirements can differ from manufacturer to manufacturer.
- Continuously Variable Transmission Fluid – With just over 20% of the vehicles on the road using CVT transmissions, it’s no wonder the CVT fluid is the second most common type sold and utilized. Unfortunately, if you don’t know that your vehicle has a continuously variable transmission and you use the wrong fluid, you won’t notice immediately. Usually, once somebody starts to notice and feel transmission problems because of the wrong fluid in a CVT, it’s too late.
- Multi-Vehicle Synthetic Transmission Fluid – Like with most advancements, some secondary manufacturers have been working to create a blend of transmission fluid that can be used across a broad spectrum of transmissions. Multi-vehicle synthetic transmission fluid is becoming increasingly popular as it can be used in most modern vehicles without causing issues, which means if you don’t know what you’re looking to use and you’re in a pinch, this is your best option. Transmissions specifically designed to use one of the other fluid types won’t be quite as efficient, but you likely won’t cause any damage using synthetic blends.
Selecting the right transmission fluid for your car or truck is essential to maximizing the performance and efficiency of your vehicle. It can be dangerous to use the wrong fluid and often can cause damage you won’t see or feel until it’s too late. Review your manual or entrust a professional with transmission fluid regulation.
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