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Choosing Your Transmission Fluid

by | Nov 29, 2022 | Best Western Transmission

Chances are that unless you are a “do-it-yourself” vehicle owner, you will not have to worry much about choosing or replacing your vehicle’s transmission fluid.  However, it is helpful to understand some basic information about the type of transmission fluid your vehicle needs, as well as picking the right brand.  In this month’s blog, we briefly examine the function of transmission fluid, the distinct types of transmission fluid and considerations for picking the right fluid that is best suited for your vehicle.

The Purpose of Transmission Fluid

Let us start with a look at the function and importance of transmission fluid.

When it comes to your transmission, transmission fluid is an essential component.  Not only does it serve to lubricate moving parts, but it also regulates temperature and works as a hydraulic fluid to power components of your vehicle’s transmission.  Without transmission fluid, your transmission would not be able to function.

Whether you drive an automatic or manual transmission, some type of transmission fluid is required.  It is advisable to periodically check your transmission fluid level to determine if any fluid needs to be added, or if there is significant fluid loss.  Typically, a leak will result in a larger amount of fluid loss, and you will also experience a variety of symptoms with the operation of your transmission.  However, a non-leaking transmission may burn off a certain amount of transmission fluid naturally.

Transmission fluid needs to be changed over time because it picks up contaminants and the efficacy of the fluid is degraded by being subjected to heat and dirt.

In an automatic transmission, the fluid does not have to be changed as often as a manual.  Some vehicle manufacturers are even making sealed transmissions which do not require any fluid changes.  A manual transmission works harder, and so fluid changes are suggested between 30,000-60,000 miles driven.  One factor that can determine the timeline for changing your fluid is the amount and type of driving you do on a regular basis.

Types of Transmission Fluid

If you are considering a transmission fluid replacement, you want to ensure that you are putting the proper fluid in to maximize the performance of your transmission.  Always consult with your vehicle manufacturer’s owner’s manual for transmission fluid recommendations and specifications.

Below are some starting points for choosing the appropriate transmission fluid:

  • Dexron and Mercon: The two most common brands of transmission fluid are Dexron and Mercon. These two fluids were developed by General Motors and Ford respectively but are compatiable with a variety of vehicle makes and models.  Even some foreign vehicles can use them, but it is always important to check with your specific owner’s manual to confirm the ability to use Dexron or Mercon.
  • HFM Style Fluid: HFM Style Fluid, or High Friction Modified, is like Dexron and Mercon but has different friction properties that support specific make and model transmissions such as Honda, Jeep, or Hyundai. There may be a variety of brand names available to pick from if you require HFM Style Fluids for your vehicle.
  • Type F: If you drive a vintage Ford vehicle, your vehicle may require Type F fluid. This fluid was originally used with bronze clutch vehicles that were phased out in the 1970’s.

Conventional or Synthetic?

Like motor oil, transmission fluid is available in conventional or synthetic form.  Synthetic transmission fluid is more expensive but is more durable over time and is designed to handle the stress of heat better than conventional.  In the end, it is best to always consult with your vehicle’s owner’s manual.

There is a lot to know about the right transmission fluid that will work with your vehicle.  If you are interested in replacing your fluid and would like professional service, contact us at Best Western Transmissions today to schedule an appointment.  We will provide you with the best possible recommendations for fluid replacement and service your transmission to keep your vehicle running smoothly.