Different Types of Transmission Fluid Explained

A person using Automatic Transmission Fluid.

Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) is used to lubricate and regulate friction in your car’s transmission. Just like engine oil, your transmission fluid should be changed from time to time to ensure longevity with your transmission. If your ATF is not changed, you will start to see the breakdown of particles in your transmission, leading to serious problems that come with costly repairs. Refer to your owner’s manual for recommendations on how often to change your ATF. As a rule of thumb, you should change it every other year, or between 24,000 and 36,000 miles.

What Threats Does Your ATF Face?

Automatic Transmission Fluid leaking.

Heat caused by friction is the biggest threat to your ATF. At normal operating temperature (around 200 degrees Fahrenheit) your ATF should last for several years. If the temperature inside your transmission increases, your ATF will begin to break down and lose its protective properties. ATF can also be contaminated by particles from the gears, friction plates, and bearings inside the transmission. While transmissions do have an ATF filter, this debris will contribute to the inability of your ATF to function properly.

There are many different types of ATFs on the market. They are specific to the different makes and models. They all perform the task of keeping your transmission lubricated.