Low Viscosity & Ultra Low Viscosity Automatic Transmission Fluids - Doug's Tip of the Month

The days of having just two types of Automatic Transmission Fluids (ATF) have been gone for years. In days gone past, it used to be either a Type A or a Type F.

Automatic Transmissions fluids are even more difficult to formulate than engine oil due to the complex additive packages. These additive packages include specific Friction Modifiers as well as Viscosity Modifiers. As with base oil in engine oil, viscosities are lower to help with fuel economy, the same holds true for base oil viscosities of Automatic Transmission Fluids. Due to the strict demands on the new Automatic Transmission Fluids, majority are formulated with Synthetic or Synthetic Blend base oils.

Automatic Transmissions have become more complex. They have gone from 3 speeds to 6, 8 and 10 speeds or CVT – Continuous Variable Transmission or DCT – Dual Clutch Transmissions. ATF’s need to do more with less, they need to:

  • Improved transmission efficiency offering the potential for improved fuel economy performance
  • Protect against sludge and varnish formation
  • Excellent shear stability
  • High resistance to foam formation and retention
  • Seal compatibility performance
  • Have excellent low-temperature properties that maintain high shifting performance in cold weather
  • Have excellent oxidation resistance and thermal stability

Careful consideration is needed when choosing an automatic transmission fluid as many OEM have specific requirements and specifications that need to be met. To name a few:

  • Ford automatic transmissions where a MERCON ULV fluid is specified
  • GM automatic transmissions where a DEXRON® low viscosity automatic transmission fluid is specified
  • Chrysler automatic transmissions where ATF+3 and ATF+4 fluid is specified
  • Many modern 10-speed automatic transmissions that require ultra-low viscosity automatic transmission fluid
  • CVT where a specified CVT fluid is required
  • DCT where a specified DCT fluid is required

Please reach out to your Sales Representative or myself, Doug Vrooman, Senior Technical Advisor, with any questions you may have! 

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