Know your transmission fluid

In Check Your 710 we talked about checking the different fluids in your car, and making sure these fluids are at the right level; adding new fluid, whether it be oil, wiper wash or engine coolant if needed.  What some might not realize, including until recently yours truly, is that there are different types of transmission fluid – no two are 100% alike; and you don’t want to mix and match, as you could do serious damage to your vehicle.

There’s type A and Type F – these were some of the first types of transmission fluid on the market, and subsequently used for older model cars – and we’re not talking your 1985 Delorean, trimmed with flux capacitor and Mr. Fusion.  We’re talking even further back to around the 1960s.  There’s ATF (Automatic Transmission Fluid) +3 and +4.  There’s a type called Dextron, which comes in different variations and formulas.  There’s even manual transmission fluid – I kid you not.  Manual transmission fluid isn’t as thick as automatic transmission fluid; namely because the driver does more of the work, but it helps make that work a little easier, sort of like power steering fluid makes it easier to turn the steering wheel of the car, while also helping to maintain some of the hardware.

So why are there so many different kinds and types of transmission fluid?  As newer models of cars were designed and built, transmission systems, particularly automatic transmission systems followed the trend of development; changing in needs of function and design, or improving on older systems, often becoming more complex.  Automotive manufacturers often like to come up with their own proprietary ideas when it comes to designing the mechanics of their vehicles.  Different variants of Dexron are typically used in GM model cars; while Chrysler vehicles are often ATF+3 or ATF+4.  Some transmissions systems and their fluids are designed with special mechanical needs, to better reduce wear on the system, or withstand different types of temperatures.  The best way to know which type of transmission fluid your vehicle needs is to consult your driver’s manual, or check with a clerk at your local automotive supply store.

You also have your choice of practicing driving an automatic or manual transmission vehicle with the driving simulator SimuRide Professional – it doesn’t require fluids at all!