What Transmission Fluid Do I Need?

You know that transmission fluid is important for your car, but what specific type of transmission fluid are you supposed to use? With so many different types on the market, it can be a confusing chore picking the right kind. There are different grades of fluid out there all with different properties and specifications. Although the owner’s manual of the vehicle will give you the most accurate details regarding transmission fluid, we will explain the various types and the general car makes they are used for. So if you’ve ever asked yourself the question, “What transmission fluid do I need?”, look no further because we have the answer.

Types of Transmission Fluid

Different fluid specifications mean that different additives and ingredients are used in it, which is why it’s so important to use only the fluid recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer. Each specification is meant to provide only the best lubricating, anti-wear, anti-rust, and anti-corrosion properties for specific car makes. Transmission fluid properties are also meant to:

  • Protect and clean metal surfaces
  • Extend rotational speed and temperature range
  • Provide the right amount of viscosity
  • Prevent foam and oxidation of fluid
  • Extend the life of the fluid
  • Improve cooling ability and reduce high temperatures
  • Condition gaskets

The most notable transmission fluid specifications are the DEXRON and MERCON series. This is what most car manufacturers use today. There are also oil based and synthetic based ATF which provide different properties such as longer life and effectiveness in high heat. The different types of transmission fluid include:

Type F –Type F is the specification mostly used in cars in the 1970s. Not so prevalent now, but type F was widely used in the past and did not include friction modifiers (which reduces the friction in lubricated parts). Mostly for vintage transmission nowadays, you won’t see much of this type around.

Dexron/Mercon – Probably the most common ATF specifications today, DEXRON and Mercon have very similar standards which is why they are often grouped together. Both includes friction modifiers and a lot of other grades are based on these two.

HFM Fluids –  Stands for Highly Friction Modified, and as you can guess includes friction modifiers for vehicles that need a lot of reduced friction. Not a lot of explanation needed.

Synthetic Fluids – Synthetic fluids are very popular today and are available from aftermarket brands (which closely meet Dexron and Mercon specifications). Synthetic fluid offers better performance and service, with improved resistance to heat, cold, oxidation, friction, and shearing. Many manufacturers are adopting synthetic fluids nowadays as they are simply better although they often cost more.

What Transmission Fluid Do I Need?

what transmission fluid do i needSo you might be asking, what transmission fluid do I need? This really depends on your vehicle’s make and model, as different manufacturers have different recommended transmission fluids.

For instance, there are many variants of Mercon and Dexron nowadays, such as Mercon V and Dexron VI. These variants are backwards compatible, meaning Mercon V can be used for a vehicle that requires Mercon III. They are not forwards compatible though. Here is a general idea of what fluid you should be using:


Car MakeTransmission Fluid Type
  • Dodge
  • Jeep
  • Chrysler


  • Ford
  • Mercury
  • Lincoln
Mercon VMercon V
  • Ford (DuratecHE)
  • MAZDA (Europe / Asia)
Mercon LVMercon LV
  • GM
  • Toyota (pre-2004)
Dexron VIDexron VI
  • All Honda (except CVT)
  • Acura (except CVT)
  • Nissan
  • Subaru
  • Infiniti
Matic S, Matic K, Matic DMatic S
  • Toyota (2004 and later)
  • Most Toyota, Lexus, and Volvo
  • Some Audi and Volkswagen
  • Hyundai
  • Kia
  • Mitsubishi

**Remember to check the owner’s manual just in case! You want to make sure you use the specified transmission fluid for your car. We also show you how to add transmission fluid here and how to change transmission fluid here.**

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