Some ATF Additives Can Save You Money
There are many different types of ATF on the market today. The primary difference between them involves friction modifiers, which can have a dramatic effect on how your car’s transmission operates. Using the wrong type of fluid can make your transmission shift poorly, and, over time, can damage the transmission.
That’s why it’s important to use the proper fluid for your car’s transmission. But many of those factory fluids are pricy: Some are $20 a quart or more! And some transmissions use 10 quarts of fluid, so a simple fluid change can become a major investment.
So a few enterprising chemical companies have come up with a money-saving idea: They’ve developed additives that mix with some of the more common transmission fluids, to alter their friction characteristics to match other types of fluid.
One of the most common of these additives is the Highly Modified Fluid (HMF) additive. When added to Dexron/Mercon, it alters the friction characteristics enough to allow you to use it in any transmission that requires HMF fluids.
So which should you use? That depends on what you’re trying to do: Just need to add a quart of fluid? Use the factory recommended fluid. But if you have your transmission serviced and the fluid replaced, the repair shop may use Dexron/Mercon along with one of the HMF additives. That’s okay; these additives work just fine for altering the fluid’s friction characteristics.
On the other hand, if your transmission is still covered by its factory warranty, check with the dealer or a factory representative before allowing anything in your transmission besides the factory recommended ATF. Other additives or oils could affect your warranty.
Caution: many ATF additives, particularly those that claim to fix leaks and slipping conditions may resolve your problems temporarily but generally result in complete transmission failure within a few months.
Got a question about which fluid your car’s transmission uses? Visit your local ATRA Member’s shop: They’ll be happy to check your transmission fluid for you, and they can help you find the right fluid for your transmission.
To find the ATRA Member shop near you, click the Shop Finder link.
If you have any questions you can e-mail them to ATRA's Technical Department through the Technical Services page or call 1-866-GO-4-ATRA (1-866-464-2872)
More Transmission Service articles available.