Q: Will using the incorrect ATF on my car cause sensors to fail

asked by on

I own a 03 Acura TL. I purchased the car a little over a year ago. After a few months the tranny started losing 3rd gear so I had it rebuilt using a carbon fiber clutch kit. After the rebuild the car ran great for about 6 months then I started getting hard & delayed shifts, seems to run better after it warms up. The mechanic said that 3rd and 4th gear sensor had gone bad and, although he wasn't sure, that could be what was causing the issue. I had him replace the sensors and the issue was not resolved. After talking to few people I know one person said that the brand of ATF had to be the Honda ATF and that any other brand would only work as a short term fix. He said the wrong ATF could cause sensors to go bad after awhile. The fluid is pink with no junk in it so I have it parked until I can find a solution outside of the typical "replace" suggestion. The transmission that is currently installed was a new one from a recall years ago. Any help would be appreciated.

My car has 180000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.

With regard to the 2003 Acura TL Honda states in the Owner’s Manual, "Always use Honda ATF-Z1 (Automatic Transmission Fluid). If it is not available, you may use a DEXRON III automatic transmission fluid as a temporary replacement. However, continued use can affect shift quality. Have the transmission flushed and refilled with Honda ATF-Z1 as soon as it is convenient." Use of one transmission fluid versus another, ATF-Z1 versus DEXRON III in this instance, has no effect whatsoever on sensor or shift solenoid service life.


It sounds like your vehicle’s transmission is not shifting properly. Check the level of transmission fluid. If the fluid level is low, that will cause shift difficulties. Failures to shift are due to either external control failures, including in some cases engine related controls such as the throttle position sensor, but also including the vehicle speed sensor, transmission control module, and shift solenoids. Many of these issues can be repaired with the transmission in situ. Internal faults can be due to valve body faults, plugged transmission filter and failed piston seals, o-rings, bands, and clutch packs. To identify the problem, the recommended service is a failure to shift diagnostic. Once that diagnostic is complete, the mechanic will explain the repair strategy to you in detail and estimate the cost. If you have further questions or concerns, do not hesitate to re-contact YourMechanic as we are always here to help you.

Was this answer helpful?
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
  1. Home
  2. Questions
  3. Will using the incorrect ATF on my car cause sensors to fail

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Which car is better as far as lasting and maintenance costs. Benz, BMW, or Audi ..?

Personally I lean toward the Mercedes when comparing these three vehicles. Audi's are nothing more than Volkswagons unless you are considering something in there sport utility class. Here is a link that will give you some quantifiable hard data I...

Q: What is the specific torque for the rod bearing of a 2001 Acura 3.2 TL?

Hello, thanks for writing in about your 2001 Acura TL.According to AllData, the specifications are: Connecting Rod Bolt Torque 20 N-m (2.0 kgf-cm, 14 lbf-ft) If you end up needing any help with your vehicle, consider YourMechanic, as one of...

Q: Transmission not shifting into second gear

It could be that your transmission is in "limp home" mode. If the controller has sensed a problem with second gear, like slippage, it may skip second gear to enable you to drive the car. Scanning the car for trouble...

Related articles

How Do Power Car Windows Increase Passenger Safety?
Power windows are responsible for approximately 2,000 emergency room visits every year. When a power window closes, it exerts enough force to bruise or break bones, crush fingers, or restrict an airway. Though...
How Long Does a Heater Control Valve Last?
Keeping the right amount of coolant in a car is essential in keeping the engine at the right temperature. Failing to have the right amount of coolant or even bad elements...
What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...