What kind of transmission fluid should I use?

Automatic transmissions use a special type of oil, called Automatic Transmission Fluid (or ATF).  Within the transmission, the fluid does a number of things, including lubricating, cooling and clutch application.  ATF even provides the connection between the engine and transmission.  


Maintaining ATF is critical to the life of your car's transmission.  A number of years ago, there were only two types of transmission fluid on the market:  Type A and Type F.  Now, there are four main types of transmission fluid on the market and there are dozens of brands and styles from which to choose.


So how do you know what type of fluid your transmission uses?  The best way to make sure you're using the right type of transmission fluid is to consult with your owner's manual.  It will tell you exactly which ATF the manufacturer recommends for your vehicle.


Here's a list of the different types of fluid and the basic differences between them:

Type F - This type of fluid was designed for Fords that used bronze clutches.  The last transmission made with bronze clutches was the Cruizematic which were last used in the early 1970's.  Today, this fluid is only used in classic or antique cars.

Dexron III/Mercon - This is one of the most common fluids on the market.  Most GM and Ford units call for this type of ATF as do many imports.  If your owner's manual recommends any form of Dexron or any Mercon (other than Mercon V), this is the fluid you want to use.

HFM-Style Fluids - HFM stands for Highly Friction Modified.  It's a fluid that provide different friction characteristics than Dexron III/Mercon.  This fluid appears under a number of different names including Chrysler's ATF+ (also called 7670).  Other manufacturers that use HFM ATF include Honda/Acura, Jeep/Eagle, Hyundai, Toyota/Lexus, Saturn and Sterling.


Remember, you should always check the owner's manual for your vehicle and use the type of ATF recommended by the manufacturer.  If you are still in doubt, we recommend you bring your car or light truck to a transmission specialist like Fisher Auto Transmission. Contact us to schedule servicing of your transmission.

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