Unless you are driving a model T Ford, most likely your automatic transmission and standard transmission uses synthetic transmission fluid. To the best of my knowledge all auto manufacturers use synthetic automatic transmission fluids in their automatic transmissions and most of the modern standard transmissions actually use synthetic automatic transmission fluid or a synthetic based gear lube too.
FYI, modern standard transmissions are very precisely built units and don’t use the heavy weight gear lubes anymore. Of course the older standard transmissions still use heavy weight gear lubes. Heavy non-synthetic gear lubes are available still, but it also comes in synthetic base which is a good upgrade.
Auto manufacturers’ figured out 15 or more years ago that transmissions and engines last longer when synthetic lubrication is used. It actually saves the dealers money by having to do less warranty work. Some of the car manufacturers have brand specific synthetic oils and when you have your transmission maintained, the ATF should come from the dealer. Honda, Kia and Mitsubishi must be filled with fluid that comes from the dealer. No outside sources are available for those automatic and standard transmissions at this point. If you cheat here by not using the exact fluid you will probably be calling GotTransmissions.com for a rebuilt transmission soon.
All General Motors and Ford vehicles use a mixture called Dexron III-E or Mercon V, which is interchangeable. Chrysler products use a brand specific fluid, but it works great in Fords and General Motors cars and trucks too. It lasts longer before it breaks down.
Synthetic fluids have the chemical properties to withstand extreme temperatures and are more slippery than conventional oils. ATF has a package of 27 additives that make it compatible with the anatomy and workings inside of an automatic transmission. Synthetic ATF and engine oils flow better in cold temperatures, especially below 10 degrees Fahrenheit by not jelling up at low temperatures. They are prepared to take a lot more heat than conventional ATF, which is your main enemy.
Simply put, using the wrong transmission fluid is the biggest cause of automatic transmission failure, spending more on the proper synthetic lubricant saves a bunch of money in the end. There are a lot of people who have used the incorrect fluids or oils trying to save money who learned the lesson the expensive way. Using auxiliary external cooling is a wonderful compliment or upgrade for getting max life out of you tranny.
We need to discuss having a ‘flush’ performed in a future article in more depth, but I don’t recommend a flush out of your transmission since most of the time the filter is not changed. Actually it is not necessary to have a transmission flushed if you change your transmission fluid on time and mileage. If the filter is not changed, the job is not complete. Would you get an engine oil change and no filter? I hope you see my point.
Flushing an automatic transmission is popular with general automotive repair shops. You would not go to dentist if you needed heart surgery, so if you want to have any work at all performed on your transmission, of any sort, than go to a transmission specialty shop.
The GotTransmissions.com Blog is here so you don’t make the ‘lack of good information’ mistakes that cause so many broken and failed transmissions. Please feel free to scan our site for any transmission information you need. If you don’t see it, ask for it in the comment area.