Q: Advise on what to use for automatic transmission fluid

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wondering about the difference between all ATF brands if they are all synthetic

Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) can be petroleum-based, partially synthetic, or totally synthetic-based oil. All domestic automobile manufacturers require a petroleum-based fluid in their automatic transmissions. Some import manufacturers require the use of a partially synthetic fluid. ATF is a petroleum-based liquid compound that also includes special additives that allow the lubricant to better meet the flow and friction requirements of an automatic transmission which are much different than engine oil requirements. ATF is normally dyed red, primarily to distinguish it from engine oil when determining the source of fluid leaks. The main difference between the molecules in synthetically engineered ATF and conventional ATF are the uniformity of the molecules. The molecules found in most conventional ATF differ in shape, size and impurity. The type of ATF that should be used for a specific application depends largely on the driver’s driving habits, the environment in which the vehicle is driven, the type of transmission and the limits that the transmission may be pushed to. I would recommend having an expert from YourMechanic come to your location to perform a transmission fluid service on your vehicle to ensure you are getting the best options available for your vehicle.

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