Updated at: 06-08-2022 - By: Lucas

There are a variety of fluids in a car’s system that maintains smooth operation. Radiator fluid, motor fluid, refrigeration fluid, transmission fluid, and many more types of fluids are just a few examples.

Transmission fluid is one of the most critical of all the fluids an automobile utilizes. This fluid aids in the lubrication of the bearings and metal components within the manual transmission of an automobile, preventing grinding.

Aside from lubricating the moving parts, transmission fluid offers friction and hydraulic pressure to help the transmission’s internal components operate smoothly.

Both automatic and manual transmissions benefit from transmission fluid’s ability to keep the transmission cool. A car’s transmission fluid is critical in ensuring that gear shifts occur smoothly and without damaging critical components, given how taxing it is to shift a car’s gears.

Transmission fluid consistency is a common concern among new car buyers. Otherwise, what transmission fluid options are there and what are the consequences of using the wrong one? Everything you need to know about transmission fluids is covered in this article.

So, are all transmission fluids the same?

Wrong Transmission Fluid-2

Transmission fluids are not all created equal. Transmissions come in a variety of configurations, each requiring a specific type of fluid. It is possible for a car’s transmission to be manual or automated. Transmission fluids designed for automatic transmissions cannot be used in manual gearboxes, and the reverse is also true. So, it’s critical to use the proper transmission fluid for your car.

Types of transmission fluids

Automatic transmission fluid (ATF)

The proper operation of automatic transmissions necessitates the use of a specialized fluid. Transmission cooling, gear lubrication, clutch friction operation, valve body operation, brake band friction, and communication between the engine and the transmission are just few of the duties performed by this fluid.

It functions as a glue when squeezed between clutches, providing greater holding capacity and friction to drive the car. The technology of the car’s transmission greatly influences the use of automatic transmission fluid.

As an example, vehicles equipped with CVTs utilize fluids that differ from those in vehicles equipped with standard transmissions. Among the most common fluids used in automatic transmissions are Dexron III, type F, and HFM Style fluids.

Manual transmission fluid

There are several reasons why manual transmission fluids, which are also known as manual transmission oil, are necessary for smooth shifts and protection against wear.

Even the fluids used in manual transmissions differ, and selecting the incorrect one could have disastrous results. However, for manual gearboxes, this fluid is often the best choice.

Many people use SAE 80W 90 or SAE 90 as their primary manual transmission fluid.

What will happen if you use the wrong transmission fluid?

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What will happen if you use the wrong transmission fluid now that you’ve learned that all transmission fluids are not the same?

Using the wrong transmission fluid is one of the worst things you can do to your car. Overheating, poor lubrication, and transmission failure are all possible side effects.

Using the wrong transmission fluid can also increase the rate of gear wear and tear, resulting in improper gear engagement. A mechanic flushing the transmission can’t undo much of the harm caused by a bad transmission fluid.

If you notice any of the following symptoms, you may have used the incorrect transmission fluid:

  • The clutch locking up
  • Rough shifting
  • Slipping gears
  • The car stalling after changing gears
  • Strange engine sound like clunking
  • Gears not shifting

What to do if you accidentally use the wrong transmission fluid?

Remove the fluid quickly if you discover that you used the wrong transmission fluid on your car, since this will reduce the degree of transmission damage.

However, if the damage to your vehicle has been extensive due to the use of the incorrect transmission for an extended period of time, then changing the transmission is the only option.

A little amount of transmission fluid will always remain in your car’s transmission even if you totally change the fluid.

When in doubt, don’t use an incorrect transmission at all. Contact a professional if you’re unsure about the transmission fluid in your vehicle.

How often should the transmission fluid be changed?

Changing the engine oil is a priority for most drivers, but they tend to overlook the transmission oil. Oil in transmissions, whether manual or automatic, typically degrades and becomes polluted with debris and particles over time, much like engine oil.

When this occurs, it is necessary to replace the transmission fluid. Generally speaking, automatic automobile fluid needs to be replaced more frequently than manual car fluid.

Transmission oil should be checked frequently, despite the fact that it doesn’t need to be changed as frequently as engine oil. The frequency of transmission fluid replacement depends on the kind of transmission in your vehicle and your driving behavior.

Transmission fluid should be changed every 30,000 to 60,000 miles, according to the majority of auto manufacturers.

When shifting or engaging gears, you may notice diminished performance, which is an indication that your transmission fluid needs to be changed.

Preventing damage to internal parts and gears by changing your transmission fluid on schedule extends the life of your gearbox and improves the performance of your vehicle.

Is it okay to mix transmission fluids?

Only if they are 100% compatible, and more specifically only if they are identical. Transmission fluid mixing is more difficult than engine oil mixing, so it’s best to avoid making a mess of it because it could lead to serious transmission damage.

Final thoughts

Hopefully, this article has answered any questions you may have had about whether all transmission fluids are created equal.

They don’t all come in the same type of fluid. So, verify your car’s owner’s manual or get the advice of a trusted professional before changing the transmission fluid.