Different Types of Auto Transmission Fluid

Most people in the U.S. drive cars with automatic transmission. In order for automatic transmissions to work smoothly, they need auto transmission fluid (ATF) to lubricate the car’s gears, thus preventing wear and tear, and help keep the temperature constant. Fluid for automatic transmissions is quite thick and must reduce friction, but not prevent it altogether, since the gears need some friction to be able to shift. ATF must be replaced every once in a while. There are various types of ATF; the one your automatic car needs depends on its make and model. This article will introduce you to a few different types of automatic transmission fluid, so you can decide which one to use for your vehicle.

Type A Auto Transmission Fluid

This is the original type of ATF and, until the 1950s, was the only one available. No vehicles manufactured today will require Type A ATF, since gear boxes are much more complex nowadays.

Type F Auto Transmission Fluid

This second type of ATF started to be used in the 1950s, and now is used mainly for vehicles manufactured before 1977. Old Fords run quite smoothly when lubricated with Type F fluid. Almost all cars built today will not need Type F, as later cars have much more complex transmission systems that require different fluids.

Dexron III

This auto transmission fluid was developed specifically for pre-2005 General Motors vehicles, though many European automatic cars use it as well. You can also use Dexron III in Fords manufactured between 1983 and 1996. This type of fluid is often interchangeable with Mercon.

Mercon ATF

Ford vehicles manufactured between 1980 and 1999 need Mercon to make their automatic transmissions run smoothly. Fords made after 1999 use an updated fluid called Mercon V. This type of fluid helps Fords shift smoothly and offers excellent protection against overheating. If you cannot find Mercon, it is likely that your car will be able to take Dexron III instead.

Highly Friction Modified ATF

Also known as HFM-style ATF, this fluid gives vehicles slightly different friction traits than Dexron III or Mercon ATF. Many Honda, Acura, Toyota, Jeep, Lexus, and Saturn automatic transmission vehicles require lubrication with HFM-style fluid.

ATF+3 and ATF+4

These fluids are used for all Chrysler vehicles. The +3 fluid is oil-based and the +4 fluid is synthetic. Both help your Chrysler and its gear box last longer by keeping it lubricated. ATF+4 can also be used in many Dodge, Plymouth, BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen, and Jeep vehicles. The advantage of ATF+4 is that it is a synthetic fluid, and thus lasts longer than the oil-based fluids.

Cars with automatic transmissions require lubrication from a fluid to allow the gears to shift smoothly and keep things from overheating. Since each vehicle’s automatic transmission system is slightly different, your car may require a different automatic transmission fluid type than someone else’s car. There are five main types of fluid in circulation today; most are oil-based, though synthetic fluids are becoming more popular because they last longer.