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    Transmission Fluid

    Automatic transmission fluid (ATF) isn't as simple as it used to be. Gone are the days of simply choosing between DEXRON, DEXRON II, MERCON and Type F. Now there are about a dozen formulations of ATF, designed and blended for specific makes and models. Be sure to use the right fluid for your vehicle!

    At one time, there were only DEXRON and Type F, but now there are several ATF formulations that are custom-blended for specific vehicles, and using the wrong fluid can quickly destroy a transmission. Manual transmissions use a gear oil, although some use ATF, and require more frequent changes due to the amount of metal shavings that make their way into the fluid. Strange noises, delayed shifts, slipping, dark, burnt-smelling fluid and delayed engagement are all signs that it's time for an ATF flush and fluid change. Consult your owner's manual for service intervals, as they can vary greatly from one make/model to the next.

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    Disclaimer: We strive to keep all information accurate and up-to-date; however, product availability, pricing, promotions and store hours are subject to change without notice. Please contact Customer Care if you have any questions or corrections.

    FAQs Concerning Transmission Fluid

    Is it the same as engine oil?
    Engine oil and transmission fluid have different viscosity and heat-ratings, as they cool and lubricate different parts within your vehicle. Even among transmissions of the same kind (CVT/Auto), transmission fluid needs vary greatly.

    Is there a difference between Automatic and Manual Transmission Fluid?
    Yes. To find out which transmission fluid your vehicle needs, refer to you Owner's Manual. Not only is there different fluid for each, but older models may use different transmission fluid.

    When should I check it?
    Even if you don’t change your transmission fluid, it’s very easy to check.

    • Open your hood and look for a dipstick.
    • In front-wheel drive vehicles, the transmission fluid dipstick should be near the radiator (front of the engine), in rear-wheel drive models, the transmission fluid dipstick will be near the rear of the engine.
    • Take out the dipstick and wipe it with a lint-free rag.
    • Fully insert the dipstick back in the insert and bring it out again.
    • Read the fluid level. If low, replace fluid by buying online or in store at your local Advanced Auto Parts.

    It’s a good idea to check your transmission fluid every so often, such as once a month or once every few months. If you want to check it regularly, popping the hood while refueling to check the transmission fluid and engine oil at the same time is a quick way to do a check-up on your vehicle.

    Signs You Need to Change Your Transmission Fluid

    • Your car hesitates when shifting gears or doesn’t want to shift gears.
    • A surge or delay in power as hydraulic fluid flow is impaired.
    • Your transmission makes strange noises, such as grinding.
    • Your car slips gears while driving or grinds gears more often.

    How to Choose the Right Transmission Fluid

    As stated previously, there are different kinds of transmission fluid for different cars. They include the following:

    • Type F Transmission Fluid is used in cars made before 1970. It has no friction modifiers within the oil and isn’t used in modern cars, only classics.
    • Dexron/Mercon are common fluids used in automatic transmissions of many modern cars.
    • HFM (High Friction Modified) Fluid is a type of synthetic fluid used in vehicles that have high-friction rates, and is a supplement/additive for adjusting friction rates of other fluids.
    • Synthetic Fluids offer improved hot/cold resistance, better oxidation, improved friction lubrication.

    Check the vehicle’s Owner's Manual for more.

    Buy transmission fluid online or visit your local Advance Auto Parts store and have one of our knowledgeable Team Members help you.

    Additional FAQs

    When should I change my transmission fluid?
    For a complete rundown of Basic Car Maintenance Schedules, check out this Advance Auto Parts DIY post.

    What kind of tools will I need?
    Learn more about the Essential Tools for Basic DIYing.

    What if there’s transmission fluid left over?
    Christa Hogan has written an Advance Auto Parts DIY guide to Safely Storing and Using Automotive Fluids at Home.