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One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

(OP)
Just wondering why a reputable transmission shop would use non manufacture approved fluid, just because the container says
it meets the spec? And we all know that the Fluid manufacture will not cover any damage to the transmission, nor will the shop after a month or so.

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

Because people are lazy and either don't read, or think they know better.

Lots and lots of transmissions have specific fluid requirements nowadays, and if the wrong one is used, it WILL be expensive.

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

Price, performance . . ?

je suis charlie

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

the most likely reason to me is that they did so for a lot of years and did not experience problems related to doing so. however, modern transmissions may require quite different fluids and not just "one fluid that suits all". the very fact that a fluid is not approved however does not necessarily mean it is unsuitable - it may well be suitable because other fluids that have the same type of base oil and additives has been approved. getting a specific approval of a particular manufacturer can be quite expensive and in some cases even impossible because that manufacturer has no scheme for approval for any other fluid then then the one it sells itself....

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

I don't think its a case of "one size fits all". The OP did say "the container says
it meets the spec"
.

je suis charlie

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

(OP)
I can't see a fluid that is more for say a GM and Ford Transmission, working in a Lexus or Mercedes Transmission.
Are not fluids designed for the specific manufacture? The fluid is as important as the parameters, the friction material, it is almost an integral part of the transmission. And yes the shop sticks their neck out doing that, but if it lasts 2 years or more and nothing happens short term, there is no recourse, everyone is off the hook. And any failures can be put on the normal use.
Labels are labels, how can they say it meets the requirements for a huge array of manufactures vehicles/ transmissions?
All the manufactures are not using the same transmission nor do all those transmissions have the same parameters, torque loading, materials etc.
By parameters I mean, the application of apply pressures, holding pressures, any modulation during shifting, clutch pack surface areas, friction material slippage etc. Sorry I just see too many variables for a one size fits all fluid.
Its not like motor oil, its plays an integral role in the operation of the transmission.

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

Quote (dicer)

Just wondering why a reputable transmission shop would use non manufacture approved fluid

Money. That is the only reason.

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

(OP)
Your right, and a year or so down the road it fails, the fluid is the last thing that would be blamed for the problem.

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

In most cases the difference between fluids is subtle eg friction characteristics and the only effect will be shift quality and feel. Of course if the shift is too soft and slip excessive you will see premature failure of friction materials.

je suis charlie

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

well-
I went 'round on this for our VW Beetle. (01M transmission)
I really didn't want to pay the dealer's extortial price for official fluid.
It was - I forget - maybe the best price I could find was $13/liter or so?

It turned out that Valvoline has a fluid that they recommended for that service.
I used it, worked fine.
Valvoline wasn't willing to spend the $$$ to get it officially approved by VW.

So - was it a suitable application? VW might say "no"-
It's pretty obvious what I think.



Jay Maechtlen
http://www.laserpubs.com/techcomm

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

There are many times (like yours) where there is a perfectly adequate substitute and the appropriate research has been done, but the cost of official certification wasn't worthwhile. I have another example, in which Mercedes-Benz calls for a special only-available-through-them gearbox fluid called BOT328, but the innards of this transmission are no different from any other transmission of this general type which uses plain ordinary manual transmission fluid, and that's what has been in mine for the last 120,000 km.

But substituting a carefully-researched alternate fluid is very different from grabbing generic Dexron ATF and throwing that in everything. Dexron + VW 01M = bye-bye transmission.

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

Manufacturers typically don't approve specific fluids. They typically write the fluid requirements in the vehicle specification documents. The fluid specification is often some published oil industry standard that oil companies then use to make oil that meets the standard and then label the oil as meeting that standard.

As others commented in the thread, there are also cases where the manufacturer does have a specific fluid listed. In that case, the specific fluid is listed in the vehicle specification.

Then, there are other licensed specifications. The GM DEXOS oil is an example. There is a specification for DEXOS oil which must be met. On top of that, the manufacturer also has to pay GM a fee to use the DEXOS symbol on their oil containers. So technically, you could use the DEXOS oil specification to find another oil that meets the specification even though it doesn't display the DEXOS symbol on the container.


Quote (dicer)

the container says it meets the spec?


So, if it meets the manufacturers specification then what is the problem?

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

"Reputable transmission shop"? If the shop is not using the specific trans fluid listed in the factory service manual just to save a couple bucks, why would you describe them as being "reputable"? Paying an extra $20 for the correct fluid in a simple automatic transmission service (filter, gasket and fluid) is well worth the cost. Say your new car comes with a 100k mile drivetrain warranty, and you have your "reputable shop" service the trans at the recommended 50k miles and they fill it with a fluid that is not factory approved. When the trans fails at 75k miles and you have it towed to the nearest dealer, the first thing the dealer will do is check what type of fluid your transmission contains. If it is not the factory approved type of fluid, the dealer will reject your warranty claim. Replacing the AT on a modern car can easily cost $2500 or more. And the dealers have a financial incentive to find any cause for rejecting a warranty claim.

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

Quote (tbuelna)

If the shop is not using the specific trans fluid listed in the factory service manual just to save a couple bucks

Quote (dicer)

just because the container says it meets the spec


I still don't understand the problem with a fluid that meets the vehicle specification?

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

Yep, the savings can actually be significant, An equivalent product without the OEM mark up might be half the price.

OTOH there are lubricants in the marketplace that significantly outperform the OEM product (not likely in this case though).

je suis charlie

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

Here are some relevant parts of a 2012 Dodge truck owners manual regarding trans fluid, required service intervals, and implications of using non-approved materials on warranty claims.

Required trans fluid: "MOPAR ATF+4 Automatic Transmission Fluid or equivalent licensed
ATF+4 product"


Service parts: "REPLACEMENT PARTS - Use of genuine MOPAR parts for normal/scheduled maintenance and repairs is highly recommended to ensure the designed performance. Damage or failures caused by the use of non-MOPAR parts for maintenance and repairs will not be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty."

Trans fluid selection: "Selection Of Lubricant - It is important that the proper lubricant is used in the transmission to assure optimum transmission performance. Use only the manufacturer’s recommended transmission fluid."

As you can see this owners manual makes it very clear that use of non-approved parts/materials will void the factory warranty. The trans fluid must be a factory product or a product licensed by the factory, and not simply a trans fluid the manufacturer claims to meet factory requirements.

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

In most parts of the free world the manufacturer would have to PROVE the failure was caused by the fluid - especially if the lubricant manufacturer claims it meets the spec'.

je suis charlie

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

Unfortunately, that's not the way it works here in the US. When you purchase a new car with a factory warranty, you sign a warranty contract that states you have read, fully understand, and agree to comply with what is written in the owners manual supplied with the vehicle. Car dealers always make sure you have a copy of the owners manual before you leave with your new car. And OEMs all offer free downloads or hard copy replacements of owners manuals for every vehicle model they have produced, so that you have no excuse for not fully complying with the requirements listed in the manual.

The warranty agreement you sign when you purchase a new car is a legal contract between you and the factory. The factory is obligated to bear the significant financial cost of replacing a transmission or engine that fails under warranty, but the owner is also obligated to fully comply with all of the terms contained in the warranty agreement they signed when they purchased the vehicle. It's a free market, and no one is forced to sign a new car warranty agreement. If you don't like the terms of the warranty agreement, then don't buy the car.

You can purchase a quart of genuine MOPAR ATF+4 tranny fluid for less than $15, and the total amount of fluid required at a 50K mile service would cost less than $100. I don't consider this one time cost to be unacceptable in order to ensure I will not have to pay for a transmission replacement during the first 100K miles of driving.

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

The original post says it met the specifications. In your example case MOPAR ATF+4 Automatic Transmission Fluid or equivalent licensed ATF+4 product is the specification.

In the US, I`m fairly certain that Chrysler can`t force you to use their MOPAR brand ATF+4 unless they give it to you. The same applies to any other part you may replace.

Now, say you installed an aftermarket torque converter and the converter fails and dumps metal shavings into the transmission. Chrysler could deny warranty on the transmission. That`s be a case where the non-MOPAR parts clause could be applied.

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

(OP)
"The container says" If I was marketing a fluid, I would say the exact same thing. And if the transmission failed 1 hour after the fluid was changed. The failure would be blamed on a transmission that was already going to fail before the fluid was changed, just like any other fluid manufacture would do. The liability then rests on the shop that did the fluid change. Just talk to the MB engineers there is no one size fits all transmission fluid, they will cancel the warranty if you use a non recommended fluid and why not wouldn't you?

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

tbuelna.

I don't know about "the land of the free" but here in Australia, consumers have a range of statutory rights that cannot be "signed away" in a warranty document. For example, I am sure the makers would like to void the warranty if you have the car serviced at a non-dealer workshop but the reality is they can't do that.

je suis charlie

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

Quote (LionelHutz)

In your example case MOPAR ATF+4 Automatic Transmission Fluid or equivalent licensed ATF+4 product is the specification.

That's not quite right. MOPAR ATF+4 Automatic Transmission Fluid is likely a proprietary product. And in order to manufacture and sell this proprietary product in certain markets you would need a license or permission from MOPAR. In this example the owners manual states you must use the specific trans fluid noted to comply with the factory warranty terms. There is no mention of any specification.

On the other hand, here's what the owners manual states regarding engine oil: "Use API Certified SAE 5W-20 Engine Oil, meeting the requirements of Chrysler Material Standard MS-6395. Refer to your engine oil filler cap for correct SAE grade." As you can see, it allows use of any commercial engine oil product as long as it meets the API certification and Chrysler material standard requirements.

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

ATF+4 IS the specification. ANYONE can make oil that meets the ATF+4 specification. The name ATF+4 has to be licensed from Chrysler.

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

"ATF+4" is trademarked by Chrysler and cannot be used without permission. Here's a good description of the situation: "Manufacturers can make ATF+4 fluids, but to use the trademarked ATF+4 name in their compatibility list, they must have their fluids tested and licensed by Chrysler engineers, and must use Lubrizol in their formulations. Licensed fluids are periodically sampled from stores to assure quality."

Here's what Chevron states about their ATF+4 product:

"Chevron ATF+4 Automatic Transmission Fluid has been registered with the Chrysler Corporation, license number 40630035."
"CUSTOMER BENEFITS - Chevron ATF+4® Automatic Transmission Fluid delivers value through: Warranty coverage as an officially approved Chrysler Group fluid"

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

Those that have paid for the exclusivity of a trademarked name, naturally want to create the illusion that anything else will void warranty.

je suis charlie

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

I would agree Chrysler's approach in this case is partly motivated by revenues from trans fluid sales. But the company does put a significant effort into optimizing the fluid formulation and their transmissions designs to work together, as well as maintaining quality control over licensed production of the fluid. What LionelHutz notes above, about anyone being able to produce a trans fluid that is capable of meeting ATF+4 performance requirements, is basically correct. But they cannot publicly state that the fluid meets ATF+4 specifications/requirements without permission from Chrysler. This is a shrewd US marketing ploy by Chrysler, and regardless of what you or I may feel about the tactic, use of licensed ATF+4 fluid in certain Chrysler vehicles is definitely a warranty requirement.

Besides, it's not like legitimate ATF+4 trans fluid is hard to find. Here is a fairly current list of licensed ATF+4 trans fluid brands:
Advance Auto Parts ATF+4®
Amalie ATF+4®
Auto Extra ATF+4®
AutoZone ATF+4®
Carquest ATF+4®
Castrol ATF+4®
Castrol Transmax ATF+4®
Chevron ATF+4®
Citgo Transgard ATF+4®
Coastal ATF+4®
Craft+4 ATF+4®
Federated Auto Parts ATF+4®
Great Wall ATF+4®
Havoline ATF+4®
MAG 1 ATF+4®
Mobil ATF+4®
Mobil Super ATF+4®
Mopar ATF+4®
NAPA ATF+4®
Northland ATF+4®
O’Reilly ATF+4®
Parts Master ATF+4®
Parts Plus ATF+4®
Pennzoil ATF+4®
Petro-Canada ATF+4®
Proline ATF+4®
Pronto ATF+4®
Pure Guard ATF+4®
Quaker State ATF+4®
Rallye ATF+4®
Ravenol ATF+4®
Sinopec ATF+4®
Super Tech ATF+4®
Tutela Transmission Force4 ATF+4®
Valvoline ATF+4®
Value Tech ATF+4®
Wolf's Head ATF+4®
Xcel ATF+4®

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

Interesting, and rather incredible, this:
""Manufacturers can make ATF+4 fluids, but to use the trademarked ATF+4 name in their compatibility list, they must have their fluids tested and licensed by Chrysler engineers, and must use Lubrizol in their formulations."

really? they seem to think I can't mention the term?
Amazing.

Jay Maechtlen
http://www.laserpubs.com/techcomm

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

You are free to mention the trademarked name "ATF+4" except if it is for a commercial purpose. This is no different than how any other trademark is treated in the US.

One has to admit that this was a clever business tactic on the part of Chrysler. First they trademark "ATF+4". Then they create warranty requirements to use a trans fluid labeled as meeting "ATF+4" standards. Then they establish requirements for use of the trademark in the marketplace. So even if a fluid meets "ATF+4" performance standards, the producer cannot claim it publicly without permission from Chrysler. And any trans fluid that is not labeled as meeting "ATF+4" standards does not fulfill Chrysler's warranty requirements.

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

So, same as the DEXOS oil I mentioned 3 weeks ago then.....

As GruntGuru alluded to, how would Chrysler know it's not a licensed product if the formulation is correct? At most they'll use some simpler test of the fluid to determine if it's correct.

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

The ATF+4 formulation includes a proprietary additive package produced by Lubrizol, so it should be fairly easy to determine the pedigree of a trans fluid sample.

Here is the outfit that handles licensing of the ATF+4 product for Chrysler: http://www.centerforqa.com/chrysler-licensing/

Going back to the OP, check out what the CFQA has to say in their Q&A section regarding a service shop using a fluid that is not ATF+4 licensed:

"My mechanic didn’t use ATF+4® when changing my transmission fluid. What should I do? - To ensure you have removed most or all of the existing ATF, it is recommended that you perform a total of three (3) changes using ATF+4®. It is further recommended that you do not mix ATF+4® with another automatic transmission fluid (ATF)."

Seriously? They recommend purging the transmission three times using fairly expensive ATF+4 fluid?banghead

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

Purging transmissions is difficult. The torque converter cannot be completely emptied without removing it from the car.

je suis charlie

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

That brings up an interesting question. Would a trans service shop that did not use an approved fluid be liable for performing the type of corrective action described above? Simply adding a small amount of a non-approved fluid would violate the warranty terms according to Chrysler.

RE: One size fits all Automatic Transmission fluid

I read an article in a transmission repair magazine recently that said you need six different fluids to cover some 90% of cars on the road right now and they expected that to increase in the future. ISZ

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