The right type of transmission fluid depends on the type of gearbox, as well as the make and model of your car. Automatic transmission fluids come in many varieties with different additives, viscosities, and friction coefficients, making it easy to always choose the right type for your vehicle.
There are three common types of automatic gearboxes: Manual transmission (with four to ten gears), dual-clutch (DCT), and CVT – and each type requires a specific combination of ATF to provide performance and longevity. A common type of ATF is Dexron VI (GM)/Mercon V (Ford)/ATF+4 (Chrysler/FCA), which is usually good for most gearboxes.
Currently, full-clutch automatics require hydraulics designed to work with DCTs. These fluids are often formulated with anti-shudder and anti-wear agents to help the gearbox produce the smooth, high-speed gearing that drivers demand from two-speed gearboxes.
Finally, continuously variable transmissions (CVT) require high quality CVT fluid, which varies by manufacturer. The easiest way to find out which ATF is right for your car is to consult your owner’s manual to find out what type of transmission is in your car, and what type of fluid is required. Experts recommend changing the fluid every 60,000 to 100,000 miles, but it doesn’t hurt to drain the ATF earlier on heavy or active vehicles.