Facts About Automatic Transmission Fluid That Every Vehicle Owner Should Know

Posted by on Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

As the owner of a vehicle, it’s important to be very careful and knowledgeable about the fluid you’re using in your transmission. Therefore, today we are going to educate you on the different types of transmission fluid used in both classic and modern automatic transmissions.

Transmission fluid is to an automatic transmission as water is to an aquarium. Some people spend hundreds of dollars on their tropical fish hobby. If they don’t maintain the right PH level and water temperature in their custom aquarium, it could cause serious damage, or death. The same rule applies to vehicles. A car is a major investment. Without the correct type of fluid, or the proper amount, the transmission will not operate correctly, and in most cases will self-destruct. Transmission fluid is used in an automatic transmission as a lubricant to provide the transmission with a way to shed excessive heat, and to act as a transmitter of power by using hydraulic pressure to move valves and apply band and clutches.

Transmission fluid properties


There are many different types of automatic fluid on the market. Each has its own special blend of oils, chemicals and solids designed to provide the absolute best lubrication properties while still allowing bands and clutches to apply without slipping.

Transmission fluid usually comes colored with red or green dye. This is done to prevent accidental use of the wrong fluid; such as engine oil. Some transmissions use a dip stick to help you gauge the proper amount of fluid the transmission requires to operate properly. Other use a sight hole, similar to how you would check the fluid level on a manual transmission. Yet others are completely sealed and there is really no way to know if the fluid level is correct unless it uses a sensor to transfer fluid level data to the computer in the car.

Here is a little information on some of the more popular fluids that explains what makes one type of transmission fluid different from the others.

Dexron: Includes friction modifiers that are added to the fluid. Dextron II differs from the original fluid in that it has better viscosity control and it includes an oxidation inhibitor. Dexron IIE is designed for an electrically controlled transmission. Dexron III adds more corrosion and oxidation additives than the other Dexron fluids. These fluids are mostly used for GM vehicles. You can find this fluid used in TH350 and TH400 transmissions.

Transmission fluid chart


Mercon: Includes friction modifiers that are added to the fluid just like Dexron. It is used mainly in Ford vehicles. There is also a Mercon V that is designed to be used in Ford products produced after 1997. 4R70W is a typical transmission that would use Mercon fluid.

Type F. This type of fluid does not include friction modifiers. It is used in some Ford Products built from 1967  through 1987. Do not use Type F fluid on vehicles that require Mercon fluid! This is the type of fluid that would be used in a C6 transmission.

There are other types of transmission fluid available, but the ones above should cover the majority of the applications you might run across.

transmission fluid comparison chart


Most fluids are available as an organic based fluid, synthetic based fluid or a blend of both. It is perfectly OK to blend a bottle of synthetic fluid with a bottle of organic fluid on your own.

Hopefully this information will make you more informed. It might even prevent you from putting the wrong fluid in a transmission.


re-manufactured transmission will include major alterations and upgrades designed to make them both stronger and more durable. A re-manufactured transmission will also include a much better warranty; three years compared to an average 90 days for a rebuilt transmission. As a bonus, in the rare event that a re-manufactured transmission fails within the warranty period, they will cover your R&R cost to replace your customer’s transmission. And remember, the companies that re-manufacture transmissions are very easy contact. They are just a quick phone call or email away from helping you out.


4 Responses to “Facts About Automatic Transmission Fluid That Every Vehicle Owner Should Know”

  1. [...] If your car is equipped with an automatic transmission the first thing you want to do is replace the fluid and filter. I highly recommend that you replace the fluid with a synthetic type over the regular organic type. [...]

  2. [...] to the oil specs. In some case you can probably get away with that, but in most cases you can’t. Make sure the replacement fluid meets all OEM specs. Source: [...]

  3. […] 30,000 miles, regardless of what the factory recommends. Be sure that they completely drain all transmission fluid from both the transmission and torque converter.  A new filter should be installed at the same […]

  4. Here is a little information on some of the more popular fluids that explains what makes one type of transmission fluid different from the others. – See more at:

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