Automotive Maintenance And Detailing


Automotive Maintenance And Detailing

Here is our recommendation of automatic transmission fluid


Castrol TRANSMAX DEX/MERC ATF is the transmission fluid which compatible with Dexron of GM and Mercon of Ford as we described in the Automatic Transmission Fluid guide. This fluid can use with the GM and Ford cars of the early 2000’s model years. You should check from the car’s owner manual about the specification of the fluid before purchasing. Moreover, you should consult a technician before choosing the fluid if your car has the CVT transmission since it has a different specification from normal or earlier transmission fluid. 

As a normal transmission fluid, we can use Castrol Transmax Dex/Merc with the power steering wheel system, as well. Customers reported it is more smooth operating or shifting of gear when they use this fluid. The problem of

whining gone after drain out the old oil and replace with this. Anyway, not every customer prefers this Castrol, some people told no difference when change new oil, stranger noise is still present during their drive. In our opinion, it may be a problem of a mechanic of gear or internal parts.

This transmission fluid has almost the same specification as other well-known fluid brands. They claim the properties of reducing friction, Increase viscosity prevention, high temperature protection which all vehicle transmissions need.

We Like:

 – Compatible with transmission of old model year cars

 –  We can use it with other car brands besides Ford and GM if it is compatible with DEX and MERC oil standard

 – Reasonable price

We Dislike:

 – Not the best packaging and seal.  Might have a small leak.   Be careful if you buy online.

This product is available at Amazon. Click below link to visit store near you.

2. Valvoline DEXRON/MERCON Transmission Fluid

This is another well-known brand of automatic transmission fluid ( and engine oil) for the DIY market, especially in the U.S. and Canada. This ATF fluid has DEX and MERC standards as well. They produce oil for the cars with different model years since 2000’s or earlier.

Our research found customers of many car brands use this fluid such as Toyota, Nissan, Mercedes Benz, Volvo or Jaguar. They did not report transmission failures or any problem.

Valvoline said this fluid can protect all kinds of deposits inside the gear at all temperatures as it is the multi-viscosity grades provide protection in all climates. Nevertheless, you need to select a mono-grade for the warmer driving condition.

We recommend this product as we found no more complaints from the customers. 9 of 10 are appreciated to its good quality such as smoother shifting gear, eliminate noise, even better fuel consumption.

We Like:

 – It is compatible with DEX and MERC oil standard

 – Value for money

 – It is a top-quality automatic transmission fluid

We Dislike:

 – It may have a slightly different price between online and store. You may want to check before deciding to buy.

This product is available at Amazon. Click below link to visit store near you.

3. CVT Continuously Variable Transmission Fluid

The continuously variable or CVT transmission in the small or middle-sized sedan car is the latest developed type of transmission. It does not have the clutch discs, gears as the main component as normal automatic transmission. CVT uses the adjustable pulley cone shape and connected by a strong steel band. The variable size of the cone will decrease or increase of driveshaft speed.
The CVT transmission fluid then has a different specification to protect gear parts from friction, rust, corrosion and shudder. Furthermore, the color of the fluid is green, not a red color as normal automatic transmission fluid.
Googling and you will see pieces of information caution of wrong fluid using. They all do not agree to mix ATF with CVT fluid. It would not affect.

immediately when the driver changing the wrong type of fluid into their car but the problem has shown after several thousand miles. That’s enough to destroy many CVT or ATF parts and will cost a lot to you.
We, therefore, give you here some CVT products in the market for your consideration. Your car has its own recommendation, what type of fluid, please strictly follow the instruction. It would definitely save your car and your money.

We Like:

 – Special development for CVT

 – Maintain high torque of CVT

 – Protect rust corrosion

We Dislike:

 –   Not more brands are selling CVT fluid

This product is available at Amazon. Click below link to visit store near you.

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What is Automatic Transmission Fluid?.

 The transmission of the vehicle has been developing for a long time since the first car was born. The automatic transmission was born around the 1940s and has a long history developing until today. It needs the special automatic transmission fluid to move the internal gears and the related parts besides the power of the car engine. As you can see in the Power Steering System guide, The power steering system uses the same fluid as an automatic transmission. 

The transmission fluid is using for gear shifting, lubricating, and it is a necessary component to transfer engine torque to the wheels. Because of this, the transmission fluid is a kind of hydraulic fluid.

This fluid has a red or green color for distinguishing it from the engine or other oils. Moreover, it has less viscosity than engine oil, too. The manufacturers have researched and developed their products to meet the specification of a modern car that has more power and runs faster. They 

will add the additives for multi-purposes such as anti-rust, reduce wear and corrosion of internal parts, or additive to help cleaning metal surfaces in the fluid.

The carmakers either develop or certify the transmission fluid of the manufacturers. Ford, GM, Chrysler, and others have certified the fluid grade for their transmission, and they have specific product codes. There 

are some examples Dexron ULV: GM, Mercon V: Ford, DW-1: Honda, AW-1: 

Volvo, Toyota ATF WS: Toyota and so on.


What is causing the fluid to deteriorate?

The transmission fluid will turn to a dark red color when the vehicle runs for several thousand miles. However, many carmakers use “lifetime fluid” for their car transmission. As the theory, it may consider that the fluid is lasted long without changing.

The fact is the transmission fluid will deteriorate if it is mix with air or oxygen. Moreover, dust and debris of metal gears or small particles of clutch pads could cause of dirty fluid. The dirty fluid could clog in the transmission module and solenoid valves. The outcome is malfunctioning automatic transmission such as jerking, no shifting, or else.

For the above reason, the transmission fluid would not or less deteriorate if the gearbox has a complete seal. Then the manufacturers try to make a good seal by do not have the dipstick for fluid check or have a well-sealed filler plug, but it is not possible in the real world situation.

The transmission needs an air vent to decompress or balance the pressure inside the gearbox case. Otherwise, it will cause the gasket leak. It will have a transmission ventilation tube or port on the gearbox case.

Of course, it has a perfect sealed as much as they can design but the different driving conditions like hot, rain, dust. The moisture could damage its seal, and the dirt will contaminate into the fluid soon. It is not only this seal, but the drive shafts seal, as well.

That’s why you should have a transmission fluid check after driving on a flooded road. The fluid contaminates with the water will have a pinky color. You will need to drain it out immediately.

how often do you need to change fluid?.

The lifetime fluid could use up to 100,000 – 120,000 miles. That means a lifetime of vehicle or transmission. We recommend having an interval check and replace every 30,000 – 50,000 miles since the fluid cost is a lot less than repair cost or a brand new transmission cost.

How to consider when to check and replace?. You would have it checked if you drive the car in a normal circumstance like driving a passenger car on a regular road, no more load or towing, and on the limit speed. In this case, you could forget to change the new fluid, as the theory. However, we still recommend to have it changed, but a little more extended from a regular check interval. It could be every 50,000 – 70,000 miles.

On the other side, if you use the vehicle like a workhorse or two shifts production machine, you need to replace the new fluid every recommended mileage, 30,000 – 50,000 miles. The transmission in this day vehicle is installed with an easily changeable filter, for example, the dual-clutch type from Ford. You would replace it every time of fluid changing.

How to check and do transmission fluid change?.

 As we mentioned, most transmissions have no dipstick to check the fluid. You have only one method is completely drain it out and fill a new transmission fluid. The car’s owner manual has information on the fluid type, name, code number, and quantity, as you can see in the below picture.

You can have the car dealer service to do a new transmission fluid change if you insist on doing this before its interval maintenance schedule. They would not deny your requirement as they can sell their product and a labor cost, except they have a tight maintenance queue of other customers’ cars.


Prepare equipment:
– Plastic trays and empty gallons for old fluid
– Rubber gloves
– The pieces of rag
– Ratchet wrench for transmission fluid drain plug, bolt
– If any, a new washer for the fluids drain plug, bolt

  Park your car on the level surface and jack up the front of the vehicle. For safety reasons, insert the jack stands under the car securely. We don’t 

recommend using the car jack instead of the jack stand. 

1. Wear the gloves and start by removing the transmission fluid filler cap on the engine

2. Remove the bolt of the fluid pan under the car with the wrench

3. Use the plastic tray to collect old fluid, drain it out until it has no more oil drops. If your vehicle has a transmission fluid cooler, you need to drain it out of the cooler, too.

4. Remove fluid filter, if any, using the filter wrench

5. Install a new fluid filter. We recommend you fill a new fluid in the filter and lubricate some on its rubber seal before installation if it installs in a vertical position.

6. Screw back the fluid pan bolt with a new washer. You would replace a new bolt washer every time to prevent the fluid leak.

7. Looking for a drain plug on an upper side of the transmission case, 

this drain hole is for a fluid level check when you refill a new fluid. 

Remove the plug.

Automatic transmission fluid level check plug

8. Fill in a new fluid until it pours out from the drain hole of step 7.

9. Screw in the bolt of step 7

10. Recap securely of the fluid filler cap.

11. Start the engine and check leakage at the fluid filter and both fluid drain bolts.

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