Monday, November 10, 2008

How Automatic transmission oil has evolved

Once life and automobiles were both so simple and uncomplicated and times were good. The engine in your car was big and blocky and you saw instantly where the plugs were located. You could check hoses and fluids without disconnecting half the motor first. When you had to get gas, you had one or two choices and there was always someone there, smiling and filling the tank for you….and checking the oil. If you happened to need a little oil to top it off and you only had two types of oil that were available for all vehicles.

During this wonderful .and not too modern, days in the past when you had to select one type of oil you would choose either Type A or Type F, depending on what you were driving. Automakers believed in simplicity then too. If you had a Ford and you knew how to spell the name, then you knew that you needed Type F oil. The Type oil pretty much covered any other machine requiring oil during those years.

Today there are shelves that display dozens of oils, a customer can walk into an auto store and find specific oil that has been created for almost every car company. If your car has an automatic transmission then it is critical that you know which of these oils your car requires.

If the wrong type of oil is added to an automatic transmission, it can create some shifting problems. Any problem involving shifting only heightens the stress of the gears. Far worse than a shifting problem, is the fact that you could end up damaging your transmission. There have been cars that had to have the entire transmission removed and a new one installed due to incorrect oil products.

The old Type A -transmission oil has undergone a complete transformation over the years and is now known as ATF or Dexron Automatic Transmission Fluid. ATF oil has gone through steady changes and improvements, but it remains a very dependable and quality car additive.

Type A Transmission Fluid was first marketed as Dexron and this product soon gave way to Dexron II .This changed once again to became Dexron IIE in the 90s.This version had extra performance enhancers which were used to improve the viscosity of the oil.

It was seen that the additions of enhancers were very useful for achieving better performance with the shifter and transmission solenoids. The shifter solenoids were computer controlled and the ones in the transmission were controlled by pressure. Later in the 90s, Dexron IIE was reformulated and introduced as Dexron III, which is the one that is presently used.

At least there is an easy answer to the query about which type of oil to use in many of today's automatic t transmissions. Regardless of the designation (II, IIE or III), Dexron III is available today for any vehicle that requires a Dexron formula. Dexron III can be substituted for any of its earlier relatives.

Dexron has become an industry standard for almost all of the automakers. The entire production line of General Motors cars and trucks require this type of oil. Even automobiles that are produced by foreign manufacturers use Dexron. This oil is also put into Fords and the Chrysler Vehicles that were made through 96. This multipurpose workhorse oil has even been used in power steering units and hydraulic machinery.

Ford autos and trucks up until 1996 were using the Type F oil but so were some other manufacturers. The addition of some special ingredients made Type F oil the perfect match to balance the friction created in the automatic transmission’s clutch plates.

One of the cautions that came about the Type F oil was an alert for users so that they would become aware of the strength and concentration of this one oil. The added boosters to the Type F oil made it so strong that 1L of Type F could be added to 5 L of Dixon oil and all of the oil would have the characteristic qualities of Type F oil.

In some cars, the Type F oil would noticeably slow down and create a drag in the transmission’s smoothly functioning gears. The gears would have to work harder to get the job done. Consumers need to be aware that the MERCON ATF and the Type F oil are not compatible at all.

Although Chrysler has always had their own ATF specifications, they have also listed Dexron oil as an acceptable replacement. That changed The Honda vehicles use engine oil for automatic transmissions in a number of their cars. There is an automatic transmission that is found in cars in Europe and Asia that only uses ESSO LT71141 or T-IV ATF. There are a number of synthetic oils that are being marketed today and you should always check for compatibility before using.

By 1997, Chrysler began to use ATF+3 oil. This oil can be substituted for ATF+2, ATF PLUS Type 7176 ATF. This is a type of oil that is used by many of the Mitsubishi and Hyundai models.

Most drivers no longer change their own vehicle’s oil and the garages and mechanics are familiar with the specs and requirements of cars and trucks. If someone should have to add oil for some reason, they can look in the owner’s manual and it will list what kinds of oil and how much is required for your particular auto. Dealerships and most auto shops will be helpful and you can check online if all else has failed to produce the information that you need.

Car hobbyists may remember that today’s automatic transmission was originally brought to the market by the Oldsmobile Company. It was quite unusual and more of a curiosity when it was first debuted in public. That cumbersome 3 speed metal hulk bears no resemblance to its compact, high tech descendant, but the Oldsmobile Company was responsible for the prototype and the first working models that were being driven in public before WWII.

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