“The viscosity alone can be an issue by itself,” says Rober. “Mix in the chemistry and the wrong fluid, or a fluid that is not specified as a replacement, and it can cause complete failure.”
“The type of transmission fluid can impact both the life and performance level of the transmission,” Betner adds.
“The best thing vehicle owners can do is make sure the transmission fluid they are using meets the specification required by the OEM,” Newman says. “The specification can usually be found in the vehicle owner’s manual. These specifications are created using the tolerances and designs of their transmissions in order to make sure that a transmission fluid can properly protect them. “
“Each manufacturer seems to think they know best the type of fluid that will do the job, and therefore we are seeing an even more diverse branding and chemical makeup of these fluids,” says Rober. “The trend is toward lighter fluids, mainly for better flow and fuel economy.”
Adhere to Service Intervals
Not only is it vital to use the recommended ATF, it is also important to follow each vehicle’s specified intervals for lubricant servicing. Changing the fluid at the correct intervals can significantly increase the life span of the transmission.
“Drain intervals are important for several reasons,” says Newman. “First of all, the OEM’s recommended intervals are based on the designs of their transmissions. New fluid will help replenish the additive package, increasing transmission life. Old dirty fluid can lead to lack of protection, increased wear and transmission failures.”
“Newer, more complex transmissions stress the fluids more than ever, and they should be changed or sampled to assure maximum performance and life for modern transmissions,” says Rober.
“The manufacturer knows the specifications and lubrication requirements of the transmission,” says Betner. “These facts are matched with operating conditions, transmissions and general lubricant specs. In some cases, higher performance lubricants, such as synthetics, can extend the service life while optimizing transmission life.” ET