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Top 12 Best Transmission Fluids 2024

Gearbox for an automatic transmission
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It’s easy to get lost in the transmission fluids jungle. There’s dozens and dozens of brands, types and sub-types of transmission fluids, also called “oils”. They evolved over time along with the gearbox technology. Some fluids are interchangeable, some aren’t. Some can be mixed, others can’t. Of all the fluids you have to periodically replace in your car, this is the most picky by far. 

Though changing your car’s transmission fluid is a piece of cake and you’ll save a lot of money doing it yourself, it’s crucial to use the right fluid!

Get it right, and you’ll benefit from prolonged transmission life and smooth(er) shifting. Get it wrong and your gearbox won’t function properly and in the near future you may be looking at rebuild costs that can amount to thousands of dollars easily. 

Each type of transmission fluid is formulated for use in specific gearboxes only. Their synthetic fluids and complicated additives packages make your transmission last longer and work better and smoother.

Although it’s nearly impossible to list all types of gearbox oils for every car out there, we made a “Best” selection for the majority of cars in the US. 

Check out our selection of Best Transmission Fluids:

Best Multi-Vehicle Automatic Transmission Fluid
Best Mercon ULV Automatic Transmission Fluid
Best Mercon LV Automatic Transmission Fluid
Best Mercon or Mercon V Automatic Transmission Fluid
Best Mercon SP Automatic Transmission Fluid
Best Dexron HP Automatic Transmission Fluid
Best Dexron ULV Automatic Transmission Fluid
Best Dexron VI Automatic Transmission Fluid
Best Honda Automatic Transmission Fluid
Best ATF+4 Automatic Transmission Fluid 
Best Multi-Vehicle Manual Transmission Fluid
Best CVT Transmission Fluid
Best DCT Transmission Fluid
Best Mercon ULV Automatic Transmission Fluid
Best Mercon or Mercon V Automatic Transmission Fluid
Best Dexron HP Automatic Transmission Fluid
Best Dexron ULV Automatic Transmission Fluid
Best Honda Automatic Transmission Fluid
Best Multi-Vehicle Manual Transmission Fluid

What Does Transmission Fluid Do?

Transmission fluid serves a dual purpose:

  • it provides lubrication to keep your gear box running smoothly by reducing friction and wear
  • it serves as a coolant by dispersing heat from the gear box’s friction surfaces to prevent overheating 

Why Should I Change My Vehicle’s Transmission Fluid?

You should change your transmission fluid within your car manufacturer’s recommended intervals (check owner’s manual) to keep your gearbox working as it should and to avoid premature wear.
Old transmission fluid degrades over time and with use. This causes your gearbox’s parts to overheat and wear quicker, leading to potentially high repair bills. By changing your gearbox oil in time, you will keep it running smoothly and avoid unnecessary costs. 

How Do I Know When To Change My Transmission Fluid?

You should change your transmission fluid according to your car manufacturer’s specifications. Check your service manual. Fluid change intervals differ widely between car brands and models. Some cars need more frequent transmission fluid changes than others.  On average, car transmission fluids should be replaced every 30,000-60,000 miles. Some don’t need to be changed for the lifetime of the vehicle (about 150,000 miles). 

However, even if your manual says it doesn’t need to be changed, it’s good practice to change the fluid at least every 100,000 miles to refresh the fluid and remove all the free-floating circulating metal shavings from normal wear. This will extend your gearbox’s life considerably. 

Also, if you drive your vehicle hard, meaning towing, racing or mainly using it for short drives and city use (start/stop), you wanna replace your transmission fluid well before it is due. As a guideline, in these circumstances replace it twice as often as recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer.

Whenever you notice erratic shifting behavior, strange whining noises or loss of traction with your engine performing seemingly normal, it’s a good idea to check your gearbox fluid

First check for external tell-tale leaks. Your gearbox should be bone-dry. If it’s not, your transmission fluid level is probably too low. When you open the fill-hole, it should be filled to the point of overflowing, with a fresh translucent red color. 

  • If it’s murky, dark-brownish or black and smells burnt, it should be changed right away. 
  • If it’s low but the color’s fine, top it up with the correct fluid (check your car’s manual). 
  • If you bought the vehicle second-hand, don’t top it up. Replace all the fluid, because you don’t know if previous owners used the right fluid. Mixing different fluids can lead to mechanical mayhem and costly repairs. Check your vehicle’s manual for the right fluid type.

Which Transmission Fluid Should I Use?

Check your vehicle’s manual for the right type of transmission fluid. Using the wrong fluid can cause mechanical malfunction, premature wear or breakdown resulting in expensive repair bills.

Before purchasing new transmission fluid, check for the exact type and abbreviations recommended in your owner’s manual (e.g.: Dexron VI, GL4, Mercon LV, Type F,…). Those exact names and abbreviations should be on the can or bottle.

Different types of transmissions need different types of fluids: Manual Transmission, “traditional” Automatic Transmission, DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission), CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) to name the most popular.

Again, look for exactly what your vehicle’s manufacturer recommends. One character difference can mean a totally different fluid. E.g: Mercon LV (Low Viscosity) vs Mercon ULV (Ultra-Low Viscosity). These names may look similar, but these fluids are NOT interchangeable

That said, there are some excellent smaller independent US-based brands out there that offer multi-vehicle transmission fluids that can be used in 99.9% of modern vehicles and outperform standard fluids. Some fine examples are Red Line and Royal Purple. Check their specs to make sure they can be used in your vehicle.

Only use high-quality premium fluids from renowned brands, don’t risk ruining one of the most expensive parts of your car. By saving a couple of bucks buying the cheapest fluid you can find, you risk paying thousands in repair bills in the near future.

How Much Transmission Fluid Do I Need / Should I Add?

How much transmission fluid your car or truck needs can vary widely, depending on your vehicle brand and type. Check your driver’s manual. 

An average family car with auto transmission will need between 2 and 10 quarts of transmission fluid, an SUV with automatic transmission up to 17 quarts. 

Generally, manual transmissions need much less fluid. Most EV’s only need up to 4 quarts of transmission fluid.

However, there’s a big difference between how much you need for a dry fill, a pan drop, a fluid flush or a top-up:

  • For a dry fill (e.g. after a full rebuild) you’ll need the full fluid capacity as specified in your driver’s manual. 
  • For a pan-drop (removing the bottom part of the gearbox to remove all sludge and part of the fluid) or drain (removing the drain plug) you’re gonna need 1/4 to 1/2 of the dry-fill capacity for an automatic transmission.
    For a manual gearbox, you’ll need the full fluid capacity as specified in your driver’s manual.
  • A fluid flush (flushing an automatic transmission with fresh fluid) will require 10 quarts or even much more.
  • If you don’t have a major transmission leak or gasket failure, a top-up should only require a quart of fluid maximum. If it’s more, have it checked ASAP.

In any case, be careful not to overfill, because this can cause major mechanical damage! 

How We Did Our Review

For this review we dove deep in all manufacturer specifications and spent hours comparing and assessing customer reviews to see what people think about different products in different situations. 

We also looked at what professionals have to say: transmission rebuilders, workshops,…

We only recommended transmission fluids that did an excellent job for the vast majority of car enthusiasts and professionals alike and filtered out unreliable sources. Armed with a critical eye and with our own experience under our belt, we connected the dots and selected the best products for each specific category. 

Check out our favorite transmission fluids:

Best Automatic Transmission Fluids (ATF) 

Best Multi-Vehicle Automatic Transmission Fluid

Best Multi-Vehicle Automatic Transmission Fluid
Specs:
  • Type: Full Synthetic Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF)
  • Recommended for: late model automatic transmissions / global OEM coverage- suitable for use in 99.9% of all light-duty planetary gear transmissions on the road today, also compatible with hybrid vehicles
  • Content: 1 Quart (32 oz / 946ml) /  1 Quart – 6pack / 5 Gallons
Best Multi-Vehicle Automatic Transmission Fluid
Specs:
  • Type: Full Synthetic Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF)
  • Recommended for: late model automatic transmissions / global OEM coverage- suitable for use in 99.9% of all light-duty planetary gear transmissions on the road today, also compatible with hybrid vehicles
  • Content: 1 Quart (32 oz / 946ml) /  1 Quart – 6pack / 5 Gallons

Royal Purple Max ATF is a long-life, high-performance, full-synthetic automatic transmission fluid. It exceeds performance and viscosity requirements of late model automatic transmission fluid specifications.

It can be used for a complete fluid change as well as a partial fluid change or top-offs, because it is compatible with OEM fluids.

Customer reviews rate it an incredible 4,8/5 and this premium ATF gets a thumbs-up from the pros too. They say it improves shifting and outperforms industry standard fluids.  

PROS:

  • Fully compatible / can be mixed with other ATF’s
  • Maximizes fuel economy
  • Smoother shifting
  • Dramatically reduces heat and wear, extending transmission life
  • Exceptional Anti-Shudder protection
  • Greater torque hold capacity to prevent clutch slippage

CONS:

  • NOT suitable for use in CVTs, DCTs, 
  • NOT suitable for use in  automatic transmissions that specify the use of Ford Type “F” ATF

Best Mercon ULV Automatic Transmission Fluid

Best Mercon ULV Automatic Transmission Fluid
Specs:
  • Type: Mercon ULV, ultra-low viscosity fluid manufactured with high-viscosity index, premium-quality, hydroprocessed base oils and specially designed performance additives
  • Recommended for: Ford F-150 and Raptor with the 10R80 automatic transmission,…
  • Content: 1 Quart (32oz / 946ml)
Best Mercon ULV Automatic Transmission Fluid
Specs:
  • Type: Mercon ULV, ultra-low viscosity fluid manufactured with high-viscosity index, premium-quality, hydroprocessed base oils and specially designed performance additives
  • Recommended for: Ford F-150 and Raptor with the 10R80 automatic transmission,…
  • Content: 1 Quart (32oz / 946ml)

We chose this transmission fluid because it comes highly recommended by Ford owners and it is the standard OEM fluid used by professionals for ULV-type transmissions. 

This ultra low viscosity gearbox fluid is extremely stable throughout its life, with less viscosity loss and improved low temperature performance. It protects against oxidation, rust and deposits. It was designed to eliminate transmission shudder as well.

PROS:

  • Provides improved fuel economy
  • Excellent shifting characteristics at high and low ambient temperatures
  • Guards against transmission shudder
  • Proper transmission function at all temperatures.
  • Prevents against rust and corrosion
  • Dyed red for ease of leak detection

CONS:

  • NOT FOR USE in applications specifying MERCON® V, MERCON® SP, MERCON® LV, Premium Automatic Transmission Fluid (WSS-M2C924-A), CVT Transmission Fluid (WSS-M2C933-A), FNR5 Automatic Transmissions Fluid (Mazda M5), Dual Clutch Transmission Fluid (WSS-M2C200-D2) or Type F (ESW-M2C33-F)

Best Mercon LV Automatic Transmission Fluid

Best Mercon LV Automatic Transmission Fluid
Specs:
  • Type: Mercon LV, high-viscosity index, premium-quality, hydroprocessed base oils and specially designed performance additives
  • Recommended for: for use in Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles that require MERCON® LV type fluid. This product also provides excellent performance in electronically controlled automatic transmissions
  • Content: 1 Quart (32oz / 946ml)
Best Mercon LV Automatic Transmission Fluid
Specs:
  • Type: Mercon LV, high-viscosity index, premium-quality, hydroprocessed base oils and specially designed performance additives
  • Recommended for: for use in Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles that require MERCON® LV type fluid. This product also provides excellent performance in electronically controlled automatic transmissions
  • Content: 1 Quart (32oz / 946ml)

Between different competing Mercon LV transmission fluids, this one comes out on top because it provides best shift responsiveness under all conditions, cold or hot. It works great in electronically controlled automatic transmissions too.

Customers say it’s the best LV fluid on the market. Ford mechanics we consulted told us too: LV ‘boxes work best with Motorcraft juice.

Motorcraft Mercon LV provides excellent thermal, oxidation and shear stability and excellent low temperature performance. Not only does it inhibit the formation of gum, sludge, lacquer and foam, furthermore it provides superior wear protection. Also, rust and corrosion don’t stand a chance with this premium product!

PROS:

  • Provides excellent shifting characteristics at high and low ambient temperatures
  • Guards against transmission shudder
  • Excellent thermal, oxidation and shear stability
  • Good low temperature fluidity
  • Provides wear protection and inhibits the formation of gum, sludge, lacquer and foam
  • Prevents against rust and corrosion 
  • Dyed red for ease of leak detection

CONS:

  • NOT FOR USE in applications where MERCON® ULV, MERCON® V, MERCON® SP (except TorqShift®), Continuously Variable Chain Type Transmission Fluid, Motorcraft® Premium Automatic Transmission Fluid, FNR5 Automatic Transmission Fluid or Type F Automatic Transmission Fluid is recommended, or in power take-off units 

Best Mercon or Mercon V Automatic Transmission Fluid

Best Mercon or Mercon V Automatic Transmission Fluid
Specs:
  • Type:  Mercon V
  • Recommended for: Certified for use in all Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and many other vehicles that require Mercon or Mercon V
  • Content: 1 Quart (32 oz / 946ml) /  1 Quart – 6pack / 1 Gallon
Best Mercon or Mercon V Automatic Transmission Fluid
Specs:
  • Type:  Mercon V
  • Recommended for: Certified for use in all Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and many other vehicles that require Mercon or Mercon V
  • Content: 1 Quart (32 oz / 946ml) /  1 Quart – 6pack / 1 Gallon

In all the Mercon and Mercon V transmission fluid tests and reviews, this premium full-synthetic ATF comes out on top. It is praised by customers for its affordability and durability. Test results conclude that this fluid noticeably improves shifting characteristics in the majority of cases and provides exceptional thermal protection.

Composed of advanced proprietary synthetic copolymers and highly refined base oils, it exceeds Ford’s requirements.

PROS:

  • Exceptional thermal protection guards against transmission wear
  • Enhanced friction durability provides superior transmission life and promotes smooth shifting
  • Certified and approved by Ford for all cars and trucks that require MERCON or MERCON V
  • Exceeds Ford MERCON® V and Ford MERCON® Requirements

CONS:

  • NOT FOR USE in applications requiring MERCON SP, Mercon LV, or Type F      

Best Mercon SP Automatic Transmission Fluid

Best Mercon SP Automatic Transmission Fluid
Specs:
  • Type: Mercon SP, premium base oils and specially designed performance additives
  • Recommended for: for use in Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Jaguar and Hyundai vehicles that require MERCON® SP type fluid
  • Content: 1 Quart (32oz / 646ml)
Best Mercon SP Automatic Transmission Fluid
Specs:
  • Type: Mercon SP, premium base oils and specially designed performance additives
  • Recommended for: for use in Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Jaguar and Hyundai vehicles that require MERCON® SP type fluid
  • Content: 1 Quart (32oz / 646ml)

Ford highly recommends Motorcraft Mercon SP for use in its Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles. According to consumer reports, this transmission fluid also makes Jaguar and Hyundai cars equipped with transmissions that require Mercon SP shift smooth as silk.

Customer reviews state that even in the coldest winter temperatures, this fluid does an outstanding job. 

PROS:

  • Provides excellent shifting characteristics at high and low ambient temperatures
  • Excellent thermal and oxidation resistance
  • Provides wear protection and inhibits the formation of gum, sludge, lacquer and foam
  • Provides protection against rust and corrosion
  • MERCON® SP is friction modified for smooth transmission operation while guarding against transmission shudder

CONS:

  • NOT FOR USE IN transmissions requiring MERCON® ULV, MERCON® V, MERCON® LV, Continuously Variable Chain Type Transmission Fluid, Motorcraft® Premium Automatic Transmission Fluid, FNR5 Automatic Transmission Fluid, or Type F Fluid   

Best Dexron HP Automatic Transmission Fluid

 

Best Dexron HP Automatic Transmission Fluid
Specs:
  • Type: GM Dexron HP, full synthetic automatic transmission fluid formulated from synthetic base oils and an advanced additive system
  • Recommended for: Mobil 1 Synthetic LV ATF HP is warranty approved for all vehicles specifying DEXRON® HP AT
  • Content: 1 Quart (32 oz / 946ml)
Best Dexron HP Automatic Transmission Fluid
Specs:
  • Type: GM Dexron HP, full synthetic automatic transmission fluid formulated from synthetic base oils and an advanced additive system
  • Recommended for: Mobil 1 Synthetic LV ATF HP is warranty approved for all vehicles specifying DEXRON® HP AT
  • Content: 1 Quart (32 oz / 946ml)

This affordable high quality product provides prompt and reliable lubrication at ambient temperatures down to -61º C. AK resident reviews state they only trust this brand for their 8-speed GM tranny. It’s equally well suited for hot climate use though.

It also performs exceptionally well in terms of shifting behavior and fuel economy.

Mobil 1 HP is a long-term solution that keeps your transmission clean, with excellent frictional properties to guarantee outstanding performance under severe conditions.

PROS:

  • Helps to improve and extend transmission efficiency, smooth shifting performance and fuel economy
  • Keeps transmissions clean to help provide outstanding performance even under severe driving conditions
  • Significant wear reduction which can contribute to long transmission life
  • Helps to provide prompt and reliable lubrication at ambient temperatures down to  -78°F (-61º C)
  • Viscosity retention even under some of the severest heavy duty, high temperature operating conditions

CONS:

  • NOT FOR USE in vehicles requiring Dexron ULV      

Best Dexron ULV Automatic Transmission Fluid

Best Dexron ULV Automatic Transmission Fluid
Specs:
  • Type: Dexron ULV, full-synthetic, ultra-low viscosity transmission fluid
  • Recommended for: the latest technology of Ford and GM vehicles with latest high-speed automatic transmission with 9 and 10 speed gear configurations, it’s specifically recommended for use in the following applications: Ford/GM 10R80 and select Ford F-150 and Raptor trucks.
  • Content: 1 Quart (32oz / 946ml)
Best Dexron ULV Automatic Transmission Fluid
Specs:
  • Type: Dexron ULV, full-synthetic, ultra-low viscosity transmission fluid
  • Recommended for: the latest technology of Ford and GM vehicles with latest high-speed automatic transmission with 9 and 10 speed gear configurations, it’s specifically recommended for use in the following applications: Ford/GM 10R80 and select Ford F-150 and Raptor trucks.
  • Content: 1 Quart (32oz / 946ml)

We’ve selected Valvoline ULV ATF for “Best ULV ATF” because this full-synthetic, ultra-low viscosity transmission fluid has been uniquely engineered to meet and exceed General Motors’ and Ford’s latest 9- and 10-speed transmissions’ performance requirements. These smart gearboxes are extremely picky when it comes to fluid specs, and customers agree this is the safest choice.  

Its advanced additive package reduces wear, maximizes performance and prevents leaks for much longer than conventional fluids.

It’s the #1 ULV ATF fluid on the market.

PROS:

  • Meets the demands of high-speed automatic transmissions
  • High-performance conditioners protect seals and prevent leaks
  • Advanced anti-wear technology improves durability to help extend the life your transmission
  • Provides better oil flow in both low and high temperatures 
  • Full-synthetic formula protects better against engine breakdown than conventional fluids
  • Specific frictional enhancements for smooth gear engagements

CONS:

  • Only suited for  use in late-model high-speed automatic transmissions that require ULV ATF fluid  

Best Dexron VI Automatic Transmission Fluid

Best Dexron VI Automatic Transmission Fluid
Specs:
  • Type: Dexron-VI / Dexron-6
  • Recommended for: use in GM transmissions model year 2006 and newer calling for DEXRON-VI Automatic Transmission Fluid (replaces DEXRON-III and DEXRON-II(E), or recommended for any other vehicle manufacturer that calls for DEXRON-VI, III, or II(E)
  • Backward compatible with previous DEXRON automatic transmission fluids and can be used as a replacement for older vehicles/transmissions originally using previous DEXRON fluids
  • Content: 1 Gallon (128 oz / 3.875L)
Best Dexron VI Automatic Transmission Fluid
Specs:
  • Type: Dexron-VI / Dexron-6
  • Recommended for: use in GM transmissions model year 2006 and newer calling for DEXRON-VI Automatic Transmission Fluid (replaces DEXRON-III and DEXRON-II(E), or recommended for any other vehicle manufacturer that calls for DEXRON-VI, III, or II(E)
  • Backward compatible with previous DEXRON automatic transmission fluids and can be used as a replacement for older vehicles/transmissions originally using previous DEXRON fluids
  • Content: 1 Gallon (128 oz / 3.875L)

The reason why we chose ACDelco GM OE DEXRON-VI Automatic Transmission Fluid is simple: with a whopping 4.8/5 score and a #1 DEXRON VI best-seller rating across the major websites, they must be doing something right! 

According to thousands of customer reviews and professional workshops, you can’t find a better fluid to put in any transmission that requires DEXRON VI. 

It’s backward compatible with previous Dexron automatic transmission fluids and can be used as a much-improved replacement, providing superior friction durability, viscosity stability, aeration and foam control, and oxidation resistance. 

Most importantly, this upgrade can improve fuel economy, smoothen shifting, enhance performance and prolong your transmission’s life.

PROS:

  • Provides consistent shift performance, even in extreme conditions
  • Improved performance over previous Dexron fluids in: friction durability, viscosity stability, aeration and foam control, and oxidation resistance
  • Potential to enable improved fuel economy and longer transmission life
  • Provides for extended drain intervals

CONS:

  • NOT FOR USE IN CVT (Continuously Variable Transmissions) or DCT (Dual Clutch Transmissions)    

Best Honda Automatic Transmission Fluid 

Best Honda Automatic Transmission Fluid
Specs:
  • Type: ATF – DW1 / Z1
  • Recommended for: this is the ONLY fluid approved by Honda for use in Honda cars and trucks, replaces Z1 Fluid
  • Content: 1 Quart (32 oz / 946ml)
Best Honda Automatic Transmission Fluid
Specs:
  • Type: ATF – DW1 / Z1
  • Recommended for: this is the ONLY fluid approved by Honda for use in Honda cars and trucks, replaces Z1 Fluid
  • Content: 1 Quart (32 oz / 946ml)

The reason why we chose this ATF for “Best Honda Automatic Transmission Fluid” is that it is the only fluid that is approved by Honda for use in all of their trannys except for manual ones or CVT’s.

This unique Honda formulation contains specific additives to protect Honda seals and o-rings. This ATF makes your Honda transmission function smoother at high and low temperatures, providing maximum fuel efficiency. Its low oxidation rates allow for longer transmission fluid change intervals.

Customer reviews and Honda forums alike say to not take risks with your Honda transmission. They confirm that it needs this specific fluid to perform flawlessly for the longest time. The vast majority agrees that this is the only fluid to use in Honda trannys that require DW1 or Z1 ATF. 

PROS:

  • Genuine Honda ATF
  • Low viscosity formulation for optimal fuel economy
  • Specifically developed performance additives provide excellent shifting characteristics and maximum fuel efficiency  
  • Special additives protect seals and o-rings
  • Low oxidation rates allow for longer transmission fluid change intervals

CONS:

  • ONLY for use in Honda vehicles that require DW1 or Z1 ATF
  • NOT for use in manual or CVT equipped Hondas

Best ATF+4 Automatic Transmission Fluid 

Best ATF+4 Automatic Transmission Fluid 
Specs:
  • Type:  ATF+4
  • Recommended for: most Chrysler, Ram, Dodge, Jeep and Plymouth vehicles
  • replaces ATF+3, ATF+2, ATF+
  • Content: 1.3 Gal (5L)
Best ATF+4 Automatic Transmission Fluid 
Specs:
  • Type:  ATF+4
  • Recommended for: most Chrysler, Ram, Dodge, Jeep and Plymouth vehicles
  • replaces ATF+3, ATF+2, ATF+
  • Content: 1.3 Gal (5L)

The reason why we chose this MOPAR ATF+4 fluid for Chrysler, Ram, Dodge, Jeep and Plymouth vehicles is because it is the original OEM fluid that Chrysler (Stellantis) recommends. It was specially developed to provide the best lubrication under high load in all temperatures. This genuine MOPAR (Chrysler Motor Parts Corp.) ATF fluid can be used for all of the above-mentioned car brands that require ATF+4, ATF+3, ATF+2, or ATF+.

Customers say that when they replace their non-MOPAR fluid with this genuine ATF, they can really feel the difference. One customer says he tows his 13,000 lbs trailer with his V10 using this fluid and his tranny never gets hotter than 220°F, which is amazing! Aficionados say “MOPAR or NO CAR” for a reason… 

PROS:

  • Genuine Chrysler (Stellantis) / MOPAR OEM automatic transmission fluid
  • Can be used in most Chrysler, Ram, Dodge, Jeep and Plymouth vehicles
  • Backward compatible with ATF+3, ATF+2 and ATF+ fluids

CONS:

  • NOT for use in manual transmissions or CVT’s

Best Manual Transmission Fluid

Best Multi-Vehicle Manual Transmission Fluid

Best Multi-Vehicle Manual Transmission Fluid
Specs:
  • Type: GL-4 Full-Synthetic Lubricant Base Oil
  • Recommended for: GL-1, GL-3 and GL-4 applications, as well as where special synchromesh-safe fluids are specified
  • popular in Nissan, Mazda, Mitsubishi, VW/Audi, Lotus Elise/Exige, Toyota, Mendeola transmissions and Atlas transfer cases for Off Road
  • Content: 1 Quart (32 oz / 946 ml)
Best Multi-Vehicle Manual Transmission Fluid
Specs:
  • Type: GL-4 Full-Synthetic Lubricant Base Oil
  • Recommended for: GL-1, GL-3 and GL-4 applications, as well as where special synchromesh-safe fluids are specified
  • popular in Nissan, Mazda, Mitsubishi, VW/Audi, Lotus Elise/Exige, Toyota, Mendeola transmissions and Atlas transfer cases for Off Road
  • Content: 1 Quart (32 oz / 946 ml)

RED LINE MT-90 high-performance manual gearbox fluid has a large fan-base among demanding high-performance and off-road car owners alike (Nissan, Mazda, Mitsubishi, VW/Audi, Lotus Elise/Exige, Jeep, Toyota, Mendeola transmissions and Atlas transfer cases for off-road,…). 

It’s less slippery for  less gear noise and improved shifting. It also offers more consistent viscosity and a stronger film strength for wear protection in warm and cold temperatures. It’s 100% safe for yellow-metal/brass parts like synchros as it lacks the reactive sulfurs found in most GL-5 oils that cause damage.

MT-90 is a full-synthetic ester-based GL-4 lubricant designed specifically for use in High-Performance manual transmissions. It eliminates notchy shifting, even when cold, for high- and low-mile transmissions.

PROS:

  • Safe for brass synchros: it lacks the reactive sulfurs found in most GL-5 oils that cause damage
  • High Performance gear protection and longer synchro life
  • Eliminates notchy shifting, even when cold
  • Offers quicker shifts, perfect synchronizer coefficient of friction
  • Resists breakdown for extended periods
  • Offers more consistent viscosity in warm and cold temperatures for less gear noise and improved shifting
  • This fluid is less slippery for improved synchronizer coefficient of friction and offers stronger film strength for better wear protection.

CONS:

  •  Not for use in differentials with hypoid gears   

Best CVT Continuously Variable Transmission Fluid 

Best CVT Transmission Fluid

Best CVT Transmission Fluid
Specs:
  • Type: CVT transmission fluid, advanced full synthetic formulation blended with premium base oils and an additive package
  • Recommended for: most of the traditional stepped automatic transmissions and Continuously Variable Transmissions currently in use. Multi-vehicle ATF suitable for use in both step-shifting and continuously variable automatic transmissions. Castrol Transmax® ATF/CVT Universal is suitable for use in vehicles manufactured in North & South America, Europe, and Asia
  • Content: 1 Quart (32oz / 946ml)
Best CVT Transmission Fluid
Specs:
  • Type: CVT transmission fluid, advanced full synthetic formulation blended with premium base oils and an additive package
  • Recommended for: most of the traditional stepped automatic transmissions and Continuously Variable Transmissions currently in use. Multi-vehicle ATF suitable for use in both step-shifting and continuously variable automatic transmissions. Castrol Transmax® ATF/CVT Universal is suitable for use in vehicles manufactured in North & South America, Europe, and Asia
  • Content: 1 Quart (32oz / 946ml)

The reason why we chose this CVT fluid is that it is safe to use in most vehicle transmissions that require CVT-spec fluid. Castrol Transmax® ATF/CVT Universal is formulated for both step-shifting and continuously variable automatic transmissions.

Castrol Transmax® ATF/CVT Universal is suitable for use in vehicles manufactured in North & South America, Europe, and Asia. 

Its technologically advanced full-synthetic formulation is designed to deliver excellent performance under all conditions: cold, hot, normal and severe driving.

In all situations it provides enhanced friction durability for smooth transmission performance, superior high-temperature protection and unsurpassed protection against copper corrosion.

Here’s what customers say: “smoother drive, impressed”, “solved my CVT transmission slipping issues, awesome!”,… 

For optimal fuel economy and butter-smooth shifting (well, power-transfer…) this is the best you can get. And, it’s very affordable!

PROS:

  • Enhanced friction durability for smooth transmission performance 
  • Superior high temperature protection to effectively resist oxidation
  • Unsurpassed protection against copper corrosion
  • Broad scope of CVT vehicle applications

CONS:

  •  ONLY FOR USE IN Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVT’s) 

Best DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) Fluid

Best DCT Transmission Fluid

Best DCT Transmission Fluid
Specs:
  • Type: synthetic base oils and performance additives
  • Recommended for: Dual Clutch, for use in the DPS6 PowerShift twin dry-clutch transmission
  • Content: 1 Quart (32oz)
Best DCT Transmission Fluid
Specs:
  • Type: synthetic base oils and performance additives
  • Recommended for: Dual Clutch, for use in the DPS6 PowerShift twin dry-clutch transmission
  • Content: 1 Quart (32oz)

The reason why we chose this particular fluid is that Ford Dual Clutch transmissions arguably tend to be the pickiest of the bunch when it comes to their juices, especially in High Performance vehicles. This ATF is recommended by Ford and formulated to their exact specifications. 

Our advice: don’t go experimenting with these complicated clutch systems, you’ll end up spending a lot more on repair bills if things go wrong. Although this DC fluid is expensive, it’s the stuff that works best. 

It’s designed as a dual-functioning fluid to protect gears, synchronizers and bearings, while it is also used to operate the transmission’s shift mechanisms.

Although most customers would like a more affordable price tag, once they put this ATF in their ‘box, they report smoother shifts and better general performance.

PROS: 

  • Improved shifting at all ambient temperatures
  • Protects against wear and corrosion
  • Low viscosity improves fuel economy

CONS:

  • ONLY FOR USE IN transmissions requiring a fluid meeting WSS-M2C200-D2 

Comparison Table Of The Best Transmission Fluids

Brand Name
Best Multi-Vehicle Automatic Transmission Fluid Royal Purple Max ATF High Performance Synthetic Automatic Transmission Fluid
Best Mercon ULV Automatic Transmission Fluid Motorcraft Mercon ULV Automatic Transmission Fluid
Best Mercon LV Automatic Transmission Fluid Motorcraft Mercon LV Automatic Transmission Fluid
Best Mercon or Mercon V Automatic Transmission Fluid Castrol Transmax Mercon V ATF
Best Mercon SP Automatic Transmission Fluid Motorcraft Genuine Ford Fluid MERCON SP Automatic Transmission Fluid
Best Dexron HP Automatic Transmission Fluid Mobil 1 Synthetic LV ATF HP
Best Dexron ULV Automatic Transmission Fluid Valvoline ULV Transmission Fluid
Best Dexron VI Automatic Transmission Fluid ACDelco GM Original Equipment Dexron VI Automatic Transmission Fluid
Best Honda Automatic Transmission Fluid Honda Genuine ATF DW-1 Automatic Transmission Fluid
Best ATF+4 Automatic Transmission Fluid Mopar Genuine Chrysler Accessories ATF+4 Automatic Transmission Fluid
Best Multi-Vehicle Manual Transmission Fluid Red Line 75W-90 GL-4 Manual Transmission
Best CVT Transmission Fluid Castrol Transmax CVT Transmission Fluid
Best DCT Transmission Fluid Motorcraft Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) Fluid

Final Thoughts

Each type of transmission fluid is formulated for use in specific gearboxes only. Their synthetic fluids and complicated additives packages make your transmission last longer and work better and smoother.

It’s good practice to replace your transmission fluid every 30,000-60,000 miles. No special tools are needed and anyone can do it. It only takes one hour max and you’ll save a lot of money in the process.

It’s easy to get lost in the transmission fluids jungle though. There’s so many brands and types of transmission fluids, it’s easy to get it wrong. Some fluids are interchangeable, some aren’t. Some can be mixed, others can’t. Of all the fluids you have to periodically replace in your car, this is the most picky by far. 

Although it’s nearly impossible to list all types of gearbox oils for every car out there, we made a “Best” selection for the majority of cars in the US.

Armed with our “Best” selection and some elbow grease, you’re set for success!

FAQ’s

How Often Should I Replace My Transmission Fluid?

On average, car transmission fluids should be replaced every 30,000-60,000 miles. 

However, car transmission fluid change intervals can widely vary between car brands and types. Check your car manual and always follow your car manufacturer’s recommendations. 

As a general rule you should change your transmission fluid more often if your car is driven “severely”. This means if your car or truck is used for towing, racing or is used mainly for short drives and in heavy city traffic (start/stop).

These “severe” conditions put much more strain on your gearbox and its fluid. Your transmission fluid will degrade and break down much faster and gradually lose its much needed lubricating and cooling properties. This in turn will lead to increasingly faster gear wear, higher operating temperatures and even faster deterioration of the transmission fluid as a consequence. It’s a downward spiral leading to increased gearbox wear and eventually catastrophic failure and huge repair bills. 

In any case, it’s smart to do a transmission fluid change before it’s due. A transmission fluid swap only costs a fraction of a gearbox rebuild! 

Can You Drive Your Car If You Need Transmission Fluid?

No, you can’t. 

If you drive your vehicle when your transmission fluid level is low, your gearbox will overheat due to poor lubrication. This can cause irreversible mechanical damage. 

Depending on how low the fluid level is, your transmission will age prematurely and cause your transmission to function and shift erratically. Low transmission fluid can cause catastrophic failure, putting you and your passengers in harm’s way.  

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