Keeping up with ATF (Automatic Transmission Fluids)

Keeping up with ATF (Automatic Transmission Fluids)

Keeping up with ATF (Automatic Transmission Fluids)

Prior to 2000 about 80% of the ATF market was covered by General Motors Dexron III, Ford’s Mercon or Chrysler’s ATF +4 standards and specifications. It was easy for an installer, mechanic, or do-it-yourself person to figure out which fluid to use for make-up or replacement fluid. Lubricant marketers only had to carry a couple of aftermarket fluids to meet a majority of the demands. Today Dexron III/Mercon fluids account for less than 40% of the aftermarket use and falling. OEM specific fluids with special requirement are in place and growing.

Specific transmission requirements and unique configurations

Products such as Mercon V, Mercon LV, Dexron VI, ATF T-IV, SP-IV, Matic -S, and Matic-D, Toyota ATF-WS, Honda DW, Diamond SP-IV and others are all designed for specific transmission requirements and unique configurations. Even Eaton has specific fluids for their bus and truck automatic transmissions.

Clean Air Act

So why are there so many AFT’s now? Blame it all on the Clean Air Act, all the different transmissions and corresponding fluids are a result of an effort to improve fuel economy and comply with the government regulations. Now there are a number of new transmission configurations and each has their own fluid requirements. Designs such as Dual Clutch, Continuously Variable, Semi-Automatic, Clutch Free, and others all require different fluid formulations to work properly. Most of these new transmissions are on cars, small trucks, and hybrids.

Universal ATF that will work in any transmission?

There are several marketers that claim to have a Universal ATF that will work in any transmission. These fluids may not provide adequate protection and could do more harm than good. Additionally, different transmissions have different viscosity and shear stability specifications, one fluid cannot meet them all. For example, Dexron VI has a 6.4 cSt at 100C max., while ATF +4 has a 7.3 to 7.8 cSt at 100C range and Mercon V has a 6.8 cSt at 100C min. ergo one fluid cannot work in all three of these applications.


The Petroleum Quality Institute of America (PQIA) recently conducted a survey with some interesting results. A majority of people agreed that “The number of ATF Specifications in the market leads to misapplication” and that most consumers do not know which ATF the OEM for their vehicle is recommended and many do not read the labels on the bottle.

There is also a concern that fast lube and independent repair shops may not have current knowledge as to the needs and requirements of modern equipment.

SWEPCO 711 and 712

The SWEPCO Sale Brochure for 711 (late 2017 available in Europe) and 712 indicate what application it can be used in, specifications it meets or exceeds, and what fluids it can replace. It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that different transmission fluids are not mixed as the additives may not be compatible ergo may cause more harm than good, and always follow label directions. SWEPCO 714 can be used in vehicles older than 2000 (except where Ford type “F” fluid is required) and in current off-highway equipment. If you have any questions please contact your SWEPCO agent or distributor.

Source: SWEPCO

SWEPCO 308 Premium CJ-4 Plus 5W-40 - Stratson.euSWEPCO 501 Premium Diesel Fuel Improver Winter - swepco-503-premium-gasoline-improver swepco-201-multi-purpose-gear-lube

Universal ATF that will work in all above transmissions? Not very likely! If it would be possible we would make it available for you.

Check the OEM or contact us for  keeping up with ATF (Automatic Transmission Fluids).

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