The 10 Best Transmission Fluids

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This wiki has been updated 19 times since it was first published in May of 2018. Smart vehicle owners knows that keeping their automobiles topped up with a high-quality transmission fluid is a must. They will lubricate and control temperatures in this vital mechanical component, and can also help to minimize wear. But knowing which kind to buy can be a chore, so we've put together this handy list of the best types out there, from oil-based to synthetics. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Mobil 1 112980 Synthetic

2. Castrol Transmax Import

3. Royal Purple Max ATF

Editor's Notes

February 09, 2021:

When it comes to transmission fluid, much like oils, there are recognizable names that have dominated the industry for years, and will most likely continue to do so for the foreseeable future. And the proven formulas they sell aren't changed very often. As such, it shouldn't come as much surprise that we didn't feel the need to make any adjustments to our recommendations at this time. Our lineup includes options for low- and high-mileage vehicles, as well as automatic and manual transmissions, and variety of price points.

August 28, 2019:

Along with the engine, transmissions are the lifeblood of any vehicle, so it is important to keep yours in good working order. In addition to using effective additives, choosing a high quality fluid is a must. Since we cannot list every type of vehicle and their recommended fluids here, before buying or using any product on our list, we suggest you check your vehicle's owner's manual to ensure the fluid you are considering is compatible with your transmission.

Since more people drive automatic vehicles these days, the majority of our list is comprised of fluids designed for those. However, we did include Red Line MT-90 and Ford Motorcraft XT-M5-QS for the stick shift drivers out there. The former is suitable for motorcycles, classic cars, high-performance sports cars, and also transaxle vehicles, while the latter is an OEM product that meets fill-for-life requirements. Speaking of OEM products, we also included Mopar ATF+4, which is made by Chrysler, and ACDelco Dexron VI, which is made by General Motors.

We included a few purpose-made fluids, too. For those who drive older, high-mileage cars, we have Castrol Transmax High Mileage and Valvoline MaxLife Multi-Vehicle. Castrol Transmax Import is designed specifically for Japanese imports, and Shell ATF 134 is intended for Mercedes Benz vehicles with a seven-speed or NAG2V transmission.

Special Honors

Kendall CVT Fluid If you have a continuously variable transmission, this is one of the top fluids to use. It has the unique frictional properties these types of drivetrains need to provide buttery smooth shifting and prevent shudder. It also provides excellent corrosion and wear resistance.

Driven Syncromesh Transmission Fluid Made for racing applications, this product exceeds nearly all manufacturer performance requirements. It contains a blend of additives, corrosion inhibitors, and a foam suppressor to ensure its compatibility with yellow metals found in many manual transaxles and transmissions. Surprisingly, it exorbitantly priced either.

4. Castrol Transmax High Mileage

5. Red Line MT-90

6. Shell ATF 134

7. Valvoline MaxLife Multi-Vehicle

8. Mopar ATF+4

9. Ford Motorcraft XT-M5-QS

10. ACDelco Dexron VI

Brett Dvoretz
Last updated by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as in front of a laptop screen, Brett can either be found hacking away furiously at the keyboard or, perhaps, enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He has been a professional chef, a dog trainer, and a travel correspondent for a well-known Southeast Asian guidebook. He also holds a business degree and has spent more time than he cares to admit in boring office jobs. He has an odd obsession for playing with the latest gadgets and working on motorcycles and old Jeeps. His expertise, honed over years of experience, is in the areas of computers, electronics, travel gear, pet products, and kitchen, office and automotive equipment.

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