Transmission Fluid 101: What You Need to Know
By Space Coast Daily // July 9, 2021
Transmission fluid is essential to the proper operation of your vehicle. It’s best to get an idea of what type you need before going out and buying a new bottle.
If you have a manual transmission, it needs a different transmission fluid than an automatic one with Dexron III/Mercon. There are many types of fluids available for manual and automatics, so let’s go over them in detail!
What type of transmission fluid should I use in my car?
No matter the brand of your car, there are always those transmission fluids that fit and those that do not. Naturally, the best is the one that meets your car’s requirements, so you need to check in the owners manual for this information. If it doesn’t state what fluid type or brand, ask a professional about which one would be best for your vehicle (or check this site).
Automatic Transmission Fluid: In most cases today, the best is Dexron III/Mercon.
Type-F: This type of fluid was designed for manual transmissions and worked best with older applications like VWs, Audis, Minis, etc.
Manual Transmission Fluid: The best choice would be those that do not contain silicone (DEXRON VI). If you are looking for the cheapest manual transmission fluid, choose those containing the best friction modifiers (like molybdenum or graphite).
Key Takeaway: There are many types of transmission fluids for cars, and it’s best to ask a professional what type is best for your vehicle. The best fluid brands include Mercon, Dexron III/Mercon, Type-F.
The best transmission fluid for your car depends on what type of transmission it has, and the best place to find out is in your owner’s manual.
Manual transmission fluid should not contain silicone. The best friction modifiers are molybdenum and graphite.
Synthetic or conventional transmission fluid?
Car owners also need to choose between synthetic or conventional transmission fluid.
The best place to start is by reading your car’s owners manual. Every vehicle has different needs, and there are many types of fluids available on the market today. For example, some experts say that synthetic transmission fluid lasts longer than conventional oil; some disagree with this statement.
Choosing the right brand of transmission fluid
Once the right type (Dextron or Mercon) and quality (synthetic or conventional) of transmission fluid is chosen, the next step is to find the right brand. There are several popular and well-regarded manufacturers, including Mobil, Shell, Penzoil, and more.
The best way to do this is by talking with your mechanic or reading their advice. Your best bet is going for a premium brand like Castrol, Valvoline, or Royal Purple.
However, if you’re looking for something affordable and still of decent quality, then brands such as Pennzoil Ultra may be the best option. Bottom line: there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to transmission fluid, so read up before making any final decisions!
Car owners also need to choose between synthetic or conventional transmission fluid. But, again, the best place to start is reading your car’s owner’s manual – every vehicle has different needs, and there are many types of fluids available on the market today.
Dexron VI (GM) / Mercon V (Ford) / ATF+4 (Chrysler)
These three ATF products are the most common on the market, designed and licensed exclusively by the three largest North American automobile manufacturers: GM, Ford, and Chrysler (now FCA). In these types of transmissions, the best fluid to use is Dexron VI (GM), Mercon V (Ford), or ATF+-IV(Chrysler).
Dexron III/Mercon – These are typically used in automatic and manual transmissions. The best type for your vehicle depends on what transmission you have! If it’s an automatic, most will recommend that you stick with a brand name like GM Synchromesh®, Ford Type F®, or Chrysler SPIII™ Automatic Transmission Fluid because they’re designed especially for automatics.
Manuals also require special attention! ATF WS II should be used for such applications because it meets all performance requirements while providing excellent cold-weather starting.
Multi-Vehicle Synthetic Transmission Fluid
Multi-vehicle transmission fluids are becoming more and more popular in the marketplace. Oil marketers design these fluids for a wide range of automatic transmission types. This fluid is best for those who don’t know what type of transmission they have and want to try one product that could work as well in an FWD or RWD vehicle.
Multi-vehicle fluids are typically made from synthetic base stocks, which provide better cold-weather starting than mineral oils. Synthetic oils also resist oxidation better than their petroleum counterparts.
Dexron III/Mercon automatic transmission fluid: Dexron III/Mercon automatic transmission fluids were developed by General Motors Corporation (GM) specifically for gearboxes with manual transmissions designed to use Mercom ATF Type M® Manual Transmission Fluid.
Type F (Ford)
Automatic type F hasn’t been used in vehicles since the early 70s, and even then, it was typically only used in Ford Transmission fluids:
Type-F automatic transmission fluids are designed to provide the best performance in Ford vehicles, which typically use Mercon Automatic Transmission Fluid.
Manual transmissions need a mineral oil with good viscosity at low temperatures and high oxidation resistance and the ability to withstand prolonged periods of idling without breaking down or leaking.
Mineral oils also have less tendency than synthetic oils to foam up when they get hot. You can find these properties in products like Pennzoil Synchromesh Manual Transmissions Fluid with Quickshift®, Castrol Magnatec Synthetic Manual Transmission Oil®, Valvoline’s Pure Professional™ Synthetic Blend Gear Lube ATSG 75W90 GL-II.
Choosing the correct transmission fluid is critical to ensuring the maximum performance and fuel economy of your car. The best place to start is with your car’s manual. Your owner’s manual should list the transmission fluid recommended by the manufacturer and may also include information about other fluids that are compatible for use in a certain vehicle, like Dexron III/Mercon, Type-F, or Synthetic Manual Transmission Fluids (type X).
The best types of transmission fluid have properties like low viscosity at cold temperatures and high resistance to oxidation, and the ability to withstand prolonged periods of idling without breaking down or leaking. Mineral oils also have less tendency than synthetic oils to foam up when they get hot.
You can find these properties in products like Pennzoil Synchromesh Manual Transmissions Fluid with Quickshift®, Castrol Magnatec.