Northwest Metro Denver

3686 W. 72nd Ave
Westminster, CO 80030
8AM – 5:30PM Mon-Fri

(303) 421-4140

(303) 421-4140

Southwest Metro Denver

SE Corner Mississippi & Pierce
1194 S. Pierce
Lakewood CO 80232
8AM – 5:30PM Mon-Fri

(303) 922-4102

(303) 922-4102

Lakewood 303-922-4102

Westminster 303-422-4140

Choosing the Right Transmission Fluid: A Complete Guide


The lifeblood of any vehicle’s transmission system is its transmission fluid. This crucial component not only lubricates moving parts but also helps to cool the transmission and ensures smooth gear shifts. This guide will explore the various types of transmission fluids available and how choosing the right one can dramatically affect your vehicle’s performance and longevity.

Understanding Transmission Fluid

Transmission fluid performs several vital functions within a transmission system. It acts as a lubricant, a coolant, and a means to transmit power from the engine to the transmission. Using the wrong type of transmission fluid can lead to increased friction, overheating, and even serious mechanical failures, emphasizing the importance of making the right choice.

Types of Transmission Fluid

Automatic Transmission Fluid

Fluids designed with specific additives to meet the demands of automatic transmissions. Different types, such as Dexron, Mercon, and ATF+4, cater to different transmission designs and manufacturer requirements. Knowing your vehicle’s specification is crucial for selecting the correct ATF.

Manual Transmission Fluid

Unlike ATF, manual transmission fluid is designed to cope with the different demands of a manual gearbox. It is typically more viscous and ensures smooth engagement of gears. Using the correct manual transmission fluid is critical for the health of your transmission and overall vehicle operation. While most manual transmissions use some type of gear oil, there are some manual transmissions that will use ATF. Make sure you are consulting manufacturer’s guidelines for your vehicle.

Brand-specific Fluids

Many vehicle manufacturers recommend using proprietary transmission fluids formulated specifically for their transmissions. These brand-specific fluids often contain unique additives or viscosities that standard fluids do not, potentially offering superior performance but at a higher cost compared to generic fluids.

Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) Fluid

CVT fluids are made specifically for the unique needs of continuously variable transmissions, which do not use standard gears. Using the correct CVT fluid is essential, as the wrong fluid can lead to malfunction and severe damage.

Fluid for High-performance Vehicles

High-performance transmission fluids are formulated to withstand the intense conditions of racing or aggressive driving. These fluids are designed to provide enhanced lubrication and thermal stability under higher heat and stress.

Green Transmission Fluids

Eco-friendly transmission fluids are designed to be less harmful to the environment while maintaining performance standards. These green fluids often biodegrade more quickly and are less toxic than traditional fluids, making them an excellent choice for environmentally conscious drivers.

NOTE: Transmission fluids can be synthetic, a synthetic blend, or conventional fluids. Synthetic fluids have become much more common as they can withstand greater changes in temperature, do not break down as quickly, and will provide proper lubrication for a longer period of time.

How to Choose the Right Transmission Fluid for Your Vehicle

Selecting the right transmission fluid involves considering your vehicle’s type, the conditions it operates under, and any manufacturer recommendations. Always consult your vehicle’s owner manual for specific guidance. It’s generally advisable not to mix different types of fluids unless explicitly stated by the manufacturer.

FAQs on Transmission Fluids

Can I use synthetic fluid in an older vehicle?

  • Yes, if the synthetic fluid meets the specifications listed in your owner’s manual.

How often should I change my transmission fluid?

  • This varies by vehicle type and usage but generally every 30,000 to 60,000 miles.

Is it okay to mix different brands of the same type of fluid?

  • It’s best to use the same brand and type of fluid to ensure uniform performance and protection. Mixing transmission fluids can cause internal damage to the transmission.


Choosing the correct transmission fluid is not just a matter of filling up and forgetting; it’s an ongoing commitment to your vehicle’s health. By understanding the needs of your vehicle and the functions of different transmission fluids, you can significantly enhance your vehicle’s performance and extend its lifespan.

Ensure your vehicle is always performing at its best by consulting with professionals who can provide personalized advice tailored to your car’s needs. Don’t hesitate to delve further into the world of vehicle maintenance and care to keep your ride smooth and reliable for years to come.

Owner at Advanced Transmission Center | Website | + posts

Advanced Transmission Center is a Colorado-owned and operated auto repair shop with locations in Denver / Lakewood and Westminster. ATC specializes in driveline issues such as automatic transmission repair, four wheel drive repair, clutch replacement, differentials, manual transmissions and CVT. As Colorado's first AAA approved shop our goal is to provide accurate, timely service with exceptional customer satisfaction. All of our technicians are certified in the latest makes and models and we are one of the few transmission repair shops with a nationwide warranty.

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Free towing is just one of the ways we strive to save you money on a major in-house repair such as a transmission rebuild. With our thorough TrueTest™ Inspection process, you will fully understand what is wrong with your car and only pay for the repairs you need.
Every transmission repair should start with a thorough and accurate diagnosis of the problem. Our multi-step TrueTest inspection procedures have been designed over decades to identify whether a minor repair can fix your issue or if a major repair is required.
We can turn around a transmission repair in as little as 2 days with our fast services! Our in-house rebuild department, expert technicians and strong vendor relationships help us get vehicles fixed ASAP. It also helps to have two local repair shops with identical operating procedures and quality standards.
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