The Best Transmission Fluid to Buy for Your Vehicle This Year

For your vehicle to effectively and efficiently perform its functions in entirety, there has to be power transmission. This is only possible with an ideal transmission fluid. It is, therefore, important that you choose the right transmission fluid for your vehicle and of course it has to be of great quality.

Most car manufacturers have specified the kind of transmission fluids that are suitable for their models. Strictly adhere to those guidelines lest you find yourself in a very awkward state with your vehicle’s transmission system getting seriously damaged.

Unlike vehicle oil, transmission fluids do not need to be changed as often, but at one point you will still have to do it. This makes it extremely important to know one or two issues about this important fluid. You can’t afford to get it wrong because if this happens, then you will have serious problems with your transmission.

This comprehensive review article will provide you with the necessary information that will help you get the best transmission fluid for your vehicle. Alongside the guide, we have provided you with the 5 best products for this category currently available in the market. Read along and learn more.

The Best Transmission Fluid reviews

Why You Need The Perfect Transmission Fluid?

In your vehicle’s engine, there is intense internal combustion. In the process, a lot of heat is generated. This heat is so strong that it can even melt steel. The transmission fluid also works as a lubricant, just as oil does.

Transmission fluid ensures that the various transmission components are not subjected to heat damage. It helps in keeping the transmission system both cool and lubricated. This is basically what transmission fluid does in an automobile.

In ensuring that the transmission parts function properly, it makes it impossible for the transmission gears to grind onto each other. Additionally, it collects a significant amount of debris which then becomes easy to dispose of when maintenance is being done.

If you leave the transmission fluid to go bad, your acceleration and gear shifting will be the biggest casualties. The debris that the fluid collects in the course of performing its duties will hinder its performance. This calls for the need always to check and replace the transmission fluid whenever necessary.

Take note that a lot of friction normally occurs during transmission, but it is this fluid that always keeps it under check. If you leave your transmission fluid unchecked and changed, heat won’t be dissipated well, and the engine will heat up so easily.

How to Know When to Change The Transmission Fluid?

As already indicated above, you rarely need to change your transmission fluid. In fact, it is something you can do after 30,000 miles or on a yearly basis just for prevention of possible problems. However, some situations can prompt flushing of the fluid earlier than expected.

Such instances are as listed below. You can call a qualified mechanic for further check up.

1. Difficulty in Shifting

Whether you have a manual or automatic vehicle, changing gears still takes place. With the automatic models, you will realize that the shifting takes place a bit harder and at times it becomes later or too soon. If you are driving a vehicle having a manual transmission, physical shifting into position might be difficult.

2. Slipping Gears

Grime and grit within the transmission system can at times interfere with the transmission fluid. Whenever this happens, the pressure levels that ensure the gears are in place are interfered with. The result will be period slipping of transmission out of gear. It happens without giving any warning.

3. Squealing and Grinding Noises During Shifting

These are the most annoying sounds that any car owner will ever want to cope with. They are however indications of serious problems that awaits you if not properly addressed. Whenever you hear such noises while driving, just pull over and check the transmission fluid level as the engine still runs. If you also note that the color isn’t bright red, you will need to change it there and then.

4. Delayed Movement After Shifting

Transmission fluid usually collects debris as it performs its tasks. When this stuff becomes too much, they make the transmission fluid dirty which is the main cause of your car delaying to move even after the gears have been shifted. This is closely related to interruption of fluid flow. If the fluid is less dirty, then this delay can be momentary. However, greater contamination will make the delays even longer.

5. Inexplicable Surging

Have you ever noticed some forward and backward surges as if the accelerator and brake have been pressed while they haven’t? Yes, this often happens when the transmission fluid is contaminated with lots of dirt. It is these contaminants that are preventing consistent flow in the transmission system.

What To Look Out For in a Transmission Fluid Before Buying a Particular Brand?

The importance of transmission fluid has led to the increase in its production. There are currently a large number of manufacturers trying to meet the demands of this product. However, only a few meet the necessary credentials.

But how do you differentiate between the best and the junk transmission fluids? This is what we want to look at in this section. You need to get it right at the first stab; no need to waste your time in the market looking for the best product.

The search for the ideal transmission fluid is even easier when you know the features to look out for. Some of which are:

1. Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) or Not

Nothing gives you more reassurance as a vehicle owner as having an OEM licensed transmission fluid. These products have specifically been designed for certain vehicles having taken into consideration the basic standards of that automobile company. They are what you will get with the newly bought vehicle.

Be wary of transmission fluids that are indicated to be good for any vehicle. Most of these are often junks made hurriedly, with no tests on specific vehicles to make money. There is no way a sensitive product like transmission fluid can be made for use in just any kind of vehicle.

Notable exclusions in this category are only versions of Mercon and Dextron III. If you come across a multi-vehicle fluid, make sure to check on its data sheet before using it. Maybe your vehicle might be the only odd one out yet you might assume that every vehicle could be a good fit for it.

Check on the owner’s manual, either online or offline, to get what will perfectly work for you.

2. Cost of the Transmission Fluid

Don’t ever choose a transmission fuel based on the cost alone. Most people will always move for a cheaper product to save some cash. That cheapest transmission fluid can be the source of your problems and can cost you a lot of money in the long run.

In fact, most OEM based transmission fluids are costly but reliable in the end. You better spend a significantly higher amount of money on something you are sure will work.

3. Quality of the Transmission Fluid

This is another very important factor that can never be wished away. You could be asking how one is capable of knowing the quality of a product that they haven’t even used. Well, there are always parameters that the manufacturer uses to arrive at the quality.

These are friction coefficients, additives and viscosity. The additives, for example, are responsible for ensuring oxidation stability. They also help in the reduction of foaming as well as prevention of corrosion. Transmission fluids with additives will often serve you better than those without.

The additives are always often included depending on the gear type, automaker and type of transmission.

4. Vehicle’s Warranty

You also have to check on the warranty that your vehicle has before thinking of buying another transmission fluid. If it is still under warranty, then using a transmission fluid that has not been recommended and approved by the manufacturer can make the warranty void.

You will, therefore, have to spend on things that the warranty would have covered for you. Nobody would actually want to take that direction. In case you are not sure of the warranty policy and the areas it covers, you can always get in touch with the manufacturer.

5. Type of Transmission Fluid

There are two types of transmission fluids which are for either automatic or manual transmissions. These are not in any way interchangeable. These two categories of vehicles use transmission fluid in totally different ways.

In manual transmissions, the fluid is mainly used for lubrication besides heat moderation. On the other hand, automatic transmissions use the fluid for lubrication, heat moderation and for brakes, clutches and pressure-operated valves (hydraulic purposes).

It is extremely important to use an appropriate transmission fluid based on its application. Failure to use a recommended product will lead to slower shifting and reduced fuel economy in manual vehicles. On the automatic ones, destruction of clutch materials and incompatible seals can be experienced.

Such transmission damages can cost you a lot of money to have them rebuilt. Use the right fluid for the right vehicle to avoid such situations.

How to Add The Transmission Fluid?

Once you have with you the perfect transmission fluid for your vehicle, what remains is how to add it. This is usually an easy thing that you can do on your own. However, if you are the guy that fears dirt, then you can always employ the services of a mechanic.

Here are the steps you can follow:

  • First, check on the state and level of the transmission fluid. If you have been driving for long, you have to let the vehicle idle for some time for the temperature to normalize. You need to have the engine running but with the handbrake on and in neutral. Whenever you are checking on the level of the fluid, the vehicle should be on a level surface. Get to the engine’s back and locate the transmission next to the firewall. Use the dipstick to get the actual reading.
  • Once you have ascertained the condition of the transmission fluid and flushing done if necessary, you need to add the new fluid when the engine is still running. The handbrake should be active for safety purposes.
  • Place a standard funnel in the dipstick hole and slowly pour the fluid to avoid overfill. The amount to add depends on whether it is a top up, transmission service or replacement of the entire fluid.
  • With the vehicle still idling, depress the handbrake and have the transmission run through the gears to ensure it reaches all the necessary parts. Once this is done, check the fluid level and make adjustments where necessary.
  • Once you are satisfied with the level, return the dipstick to its hole and turn it till it locks well. After doing all that then you will be done.

A Review of The Best Transmission Fluid Products

Here are our top selections of the crème de la crème of the transmission fluids that you can consider for your ride. They have almost all the features you need to see in transmission fluids. The below 5 products have been arrived at based on the customer satisfaction through the various feedbacks and reviews.
Take a look at them.

1. Castrol 03520C Transmission Fluid

Overview

The Castrol 03520C Transmission Fluid is a multi-vehicle type that can be used for power steering and transmissions in general motor vehicles and older Ford vehicles. It doesn’t just stop at that; you can still use it in any vehicle if the specifications made are just strictly for its use.

The product ensures there is smooth transmission by having enhanced durability to friction. This makes it a high performer. You can as well use it in power applications where MERCON could be required as well.


It functions so well on the old vehicle models giving them the sufficient power needed for their performance. If you have General Motors 2005 and Ford models of between 1983 and 1996, then this is the transmission fluid that will work best for your vehicle.

Via Amazon.com

Top features

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    Satisfies DEXRON-III H, DEXRON, IIE and II requirements
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    Satisfies requirements laid down by MERCON
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    Can be used together with MERCON in power steering applications
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    Available in 1-gallon sizes
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    The item weighs 7.45 pounds

Pros

  • plus
    Smoother transmission of power through improved friction durability
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    Well priced
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    Effective protection against high temperatures for both highway and city driving
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    Resistance to oxidation, therefore, preventing increased viscosity

Cons

  • minus
    Purchasing it in 3 pack is costly

2. ACDelco 10-9395 DEXRON-VI Automatic Transmission Fluid

Overview

The ACDelco 10-9395 is the latest release of auto-transmission fluid in the DEXRON series. Even in the most extreme conditions, its shift performance is very consistent. Its degradation process is very slow over time.

This DEXRON-VI simply aids automatic transmissions in becoming durable as well as having improved performance. This product’s use is suitable in vehicles that are fully approved and licensed by GM, GM transmission model of years 2006 or newer, or any other vehicle that uses DEXRON-VI, III or II (E).

Via Amazon.com

You should, however, take note that ACDelco DEXRON-VI should not be used in Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVT) and Dual Clutch Transmissions (DCT) as these models require fluids that have been specialized.

Over the previous versions of DEXRON fluids, this product has improved performance in terms of viscosity stability, foam and aeration control, oxidation resistance and friction durability. It is designed in a way that it ensures durable transmission life as well as the improved economy of fuel.

Top features

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    It is an improved version of the DEXRON-VI, II (E) and III
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    The item weighs 8 pounds
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    Cannot be used in DCT and CVT models
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    Characterized by improved friction durability, oxidation resistance and viscosity stability among others
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    Comes in 1-gallon size

Pros

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    Cheaply priced
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    Smoother and quieter shifting
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    Lasts longer
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    High and improved performance
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    Extends drain intervals
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    Economizes fuel consumption

Cons

  • minus
    Highly selective and isn’t for use in CVT and DCT vehicle models
  • minus
    Can at times make the car noisy

The Honda Genuine 08200-90088 is an automatic transmission fluid that is an original equipment manufacturer (OEM); meaning that it is what your vehicle was bought with. By using this transmission fluid, your vehicle will be very effective with high quality performance.

You really don’t need to worry about the product working in sequence as it has been tested and the results found to be desirable. Go for this product and you will have protected your most valuable ride. It is also important to know that this particular transmission fluid has been designed with special ingredients that will protect your seals and O-rings.

Via Amazon.com

Why waste your time searching a transmission fluid and later end up buying something that won’t work? What’s more, this fluid also has low oxidation rates and is a fully synthetic fluid. With this transmission fluid, you don’t need to worry about shifting gears whether in low or high temperature areas.

The shifting process will always be smooth despite the prevailing temperatures.

Top features

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    Available in 4 quarts
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    Satisfies quality standards of Honda
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    Ensures smoother shifting at either high and low temperatures
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    Designed using special ingredients to protect O-rings and seals
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    Has low oxidation rates
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    Fully synthetic fluid

Pros

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    Great price
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    Good customer care services
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    Quick delivery
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    Smooth shifting
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    Improved fuel efficiency

Cons

  • minus
    Only works perfectly for Honda vehicles

4. Valvoline MaxLife 773775-3PK Synthetic Automatic Transmission Fluid

Overview

This product is a fully synthetic formulation that has been specially designed with advanced additives. The additives are geared towards prevention of causes of transmission failure.

Additionally, they improve the transmission life of your vehicle.
The product is advantageous over conventional fluids as it prevents leaks, reduces transmission wear, maintains smoother shifting and maximizes on transmission performance. It can be used in a wide collection of ATF applications like Ford, Honda, GM and Toyota models besides Dex/Merc, Mercon LV among others.

You should, however, note that this product is not OEM licensed. It means that the various vehicle manufacturers have not evaluated and endorsed its use in their products. What’s more, this transmission fluid is very versatile and offers longer lasting solutions. Another good thing about it is that it allows a very smooth, quick and quiet shifting of gears.

Via Amazon.com

Top features

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    Not OEM licensed
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    Fully synthetic formulation with advanced additives
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    Weighs 23.1 pounds
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    Usable over a wider range of ATF applications
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    Available as a 1-gallon product

Pros

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    Very smooth, quick and quiet shifting
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    Versatile
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    Reasonably priced
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    Long-lasting
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    Quick delivery and well-packaged

Cons

  • minus
    Not OEM approved the product
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    Confused and hesitant shifting at times

5. Mobil 112980 Synthetic Automatic Transmission Fluid

Overview

Mobil 112980, unlike other conventional transmission fluids, has some good resistance against oil deposits and breakdown. Even driving at high temperatures isn’t a matter of concern for this product as its relatively high viscosity index shields against any thermal breakdown.

Besides, it is very stable which makes its performance quite outstanding even at low temperatures of up to -54oC. Furthermore, your vehicle will have improved transmission life and cleanliness. To ensure that proper and efficient functioning of the vehicle is maintained, this fluid should be regularly topped up to ensure that recommended levels are maintained.

Via Amazon.com

Make sure it is changed at intervals recommended by the manufacturer. However, you shouldn’t depend on the given intervals as vehicles have different operating conditions. What’s more, this is also one of the transmission fluids that maintain transmission cleanliness and durability. It also offers a smoother and quiet shifting as is expected of good transmission fluids.

Top features

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    Has high viscosity index
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    The item weighs 15.8 ounces
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    Available in sizes of 1 quart and a pack of six
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    Has a material code of 98KY58
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    Lubricates even at low temperatures of -54oC

Pros

  • plus
    Well priced
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    Prevents against oil leaks
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    No thermal breakdown
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    Maintains transmission cleanliness and durability
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    Results in a smoother shifting
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    Economizes on fuel usage

Cons

  • minus
    Not recommended for Dexron 4 and above vehicles

Conclusion

The transmission fluid is a very important component of a vehicle. Many people seem not to taken note of the importance of this fluid up to a point where the vehicle cannot move anymore. You shouldn’t reach that point as it will be more disastrous for your ride.

Among the 5 products above, the Mobil 112980 Synthetic Automatic Transmission Fluid carries the day as the best transmission fluid. This transmission fluid has some good resistance against oil deposits and breakdown. It also protects your vehicle against thermal breakdown even when driving in high temperature areas and can also be used in low temperature areas.

We would, therefore, wish to recommend it as the one you should buy. This guide should be your reference point whenever you are shopping for transmission fluid. Have you found this guide to be useful?

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