How to Choose the Transmission Fluid for Your Vehicle?

The transmission system receives power from the engine, converts it into torque, and transmits rotational power to the wheels. Ensuring its good condition and using the appropriate fluid is vital for the safe and efficient operation of any modern vehicle. Transmission repairs are known to be complex and expensive, making proper maintenance even more important for vehicle owners. For this reason, every owner should be able to choose transmission fluid. The second option is to entrust this to professionals, we will leave it as a reserve.

How to Choose the Transmission Fluid

Types of Transmission Fluids

1) Manual Transmission Fluid

The manual transmission, which is both simple and time-honored, allows the driver to take control. By utilizing a foot-controlled clutch, the driver can engage or disengage the engine from the wheels. Additionally, a manual gear shifter facilitates gear changes.

2) Automated Manual Transmission Fluid

An automated manual transmission, also known as a “Direct Shift Gearbox” (“DSG”) or a “Sequential Manual Gearbox” (“SMG”), operates similarly to a manual transmission. However, it automates the clutch mechanism using electronic, pneumatic, or hydraulic controls. This transmission allows for fully automatic forward gear shifts or manual shifts via the gear selector, buttons, or paddles on the steering wheel. The Dual Clutch transmission serves as an example of this transmission type.

3) Continuously Variable Transmission Fluid

The CVT functions distinctively from an automatic transmission as it relies on belts and pulleys rather than traditional gears. These components work synergistically to generate an infinite range of ratios based on the driving scenario, with the car’s computer determining the optimal pulley adjustments.

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4) Automatic Transmission Fluid

Manual transmissions are simpler in terms of mechanics, but automatic transmissions offer greater ease of use. Instead of the driver having to change gears using a clutch and gear shifter, an automatic transmission utilizes a highly intricate torque converter and a series of computer-controlled gear sets, clutches, and brakes to shift gears automatically. However, the complexity, number of moving parts, and requirement of a computer system for automatic transmissions can result in costly repairs if not properly maintained.

Choosing the right fluid for the transmission is crucial in preventing damage and optimizing performance and fuel efficiency. Modern transmission fluids, which are usually blended with synthetic base oils, offer improved resistance to heat, cold, oxidation, friction, and shearing. However, automotive fluids are different and you need to know what to look for and how they differ.

How To Choose The Right Transmission Fluid For Your Car?

Follow the following steps to choose a best suitable transmission fluid for your car:

1) Find Out More About Your Car

To ensure optimal performance, it is crucial to select the appropriate transmission fluid for your vehicle. Different types of vehicles have different requirements, so consulting your owner’s manual is essential.

The type of transmission in your car dictates the type of fluid needed. Manual transmissions necessitate a thicker fluid, whereas automatic transmissions typically call for a thinner one. Therefore, it is vital to choose the fluid that best suits your vehicle’s specific needs.

2) Types and Compatibility

During vehicle maintenance, it needs to be changed every 60,000 km or every 3 years. This is for most cars. It is better to clarify further, as vehicle care tips may differ. The manufacturer always indicates in the manual the best fluids for vehicle performance. The three most widely available ATF products on the market are offered by GM, Ford, and FCA (previously known as Chrysler). These exclusive licenses are granted to the three automakers, specifically tailoring the fluids for new transmission technology. Manufacturer recommendations often extend the use of these fluids to newly imported vehicles as well.

  • Chrysler ATF+4. Introduced to the market in 1998, Chrysler ATF+4 is a synthetic blend designed for conventional automatic transmission in most pre-1998 Chrysler vehicles (excluding minivans before 2000). It ensures compatibility with ATF+3 fluids and is not compatible with Dexron or Mercon fluids. ATF+4 maintains backward compatibility and can be used in most vehicles today, except those with non-conventional transmissions.
  • Dexron VI/Mercon LV. GM’s latest ATF is Dexron VI, a synthetic blend designed specifically for their new six-speed automatic transmission. Dexron VI meets the requirements for tighter internal tolerances and higher shear strength. For Ford vehicles with six-speed automatic transmissions, Mercon LV is the specified low-viscosity option.
  • Mercon V. Mercon V and Dexron III share similarities, and late-model Fords commonly use Mercon V as their predominant ATF. However, it is crucial to note that Mercon V is not compatible with transmissions that require Ford Type F.
  • CVT Fluid. Auto manufacturers are increasingly adopting continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) for their fuel economy advantages. Unlike traditional stepped gear transmissions, CVTs employ belts and pulleys instead of gears, resulting in distinct fluid requirements. Additionally, most CVT transmission fluids incorporate synthetic base oils.
  • Multi-Vehicle Synthetic Transmission Fluid. The popularity of multi-vehicle transmission fluids has been growing in recent years due to their versatility in different automatic transmission types. Manufacturers design them with the latest additive technologies and often include synthetic base oils. It is important to note that these fluids are not licensed by any specific auto manufacturer.

3) Climate and Oil Quality

Considering the climate is important when selecting transmission fluids; some work well in colder climates, while others perform better in warmer climates. Ensure you choose a transmission fluid of good quality to maintain a reliable product.

4) Brands of Transmission Fluid

After determining the appropriate fluid, primarily Dextron/Mercon or HFM, selecting a brand becomes the next step. While there are many widely recognized brands available, it’s worth noting that certain vehicles may require specific brands.


If you are uncertain which fluid to choose, seek recommendations from trusted mechanics or automotive supply stores. They can assist you in finding the suitable fluid for your vehicle and requirements.

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