Type a Transmission Fluid

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Transmissions simply cannot function without fluid. The type of fluid used in a transmission is just as important as the oil used in an engine and the coolant used in a radiator. As such, there are different types of fluids designed specifically for different types of transmissions.

Type A transmission fluid had been specifically designed for use in older model transmissions that used and contained whale oil in its construction. This type of fluid is no longer in production and has been replaced by Type F transmission fluid.

In this article, we’ll take a look at what Type A transmission fluid is, why it’s no longer in production, and what are the alternatives, so read on!

What Is Transmission Fluid and What Does It Do?

Transmission fluid serves a very crucial purpose in your car. It is the hydraulic fluid that helps transmit power from the engine to the transmission. In addition, it also helps to lubricate, cool, and clean the transmission components. Over time, transmission fluid will become dirty and will need to be replaced. 

It allows for smooth gear changes and helps to protect the transmission from wear and tear. Low transmission fluid can lead to major transmission problems, so it is important to keep an eye on it and top it up when necessary. Without transmission fluid, the parts of your transmission would grind against each other and eventually break.

What Type of Transmission Fluid Should You Use

Valvoline Multi-Vehicle (ATF) Full Synthetic Automatic Transmission Fluid 1 GA

There are mainly two types of transmissions in cars – automatic and manual. The type of transmission fluid you need will depend on the type of car you have. Check your owner’s manual to find out what type of transmission fluid is recommended for your car.

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Automatic Transmission Fluid

Set of 5 Quarts Automatic Trans Fluid HCF-2 Compatible with Honda Accord Civic

Automatic Transmission Fluid or also known as ATF is a special type of fluid that is used in automatic transmissions. The fluid helps to lubricate, cool, and clean the transmission components. It also helps to transfer power from the engine to the transmission. Over time, ATF will become dirty and will need to be replaced.

It’s commonly used in Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVTs) and has the color red. The fluid is also used in some newer manual transmissions and power steering systems.

Manual Transmission Fluid

Genuine Honda Fluid 08798-9031 Manual Transmission Fluid - 1 Quart

Manual Transmission Fluid, however, is a slightly different type of fluid. It is used in manual transmissions and helps also helps to lubricate, cool, and clean the transmission components. MTF also helps to transfer power from the engine to the transmission. Over time, MTF will become dirty and will need to be replaced. 

It’s commonly used in older cars with manual transmissions and has the color green or brown. The fluid is also used in some all-wheel-drive vehicles. In terms of viscosity, ATF is thinner than MTF.

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What Is Type A Transmission Fluid?

Type A is an older type of automatic transmission fluid that was used in vehicles up until the 1970s. It is not as common anymore but you may still find it being used in some older cars. Type A ATF is a mineral oil-based fluid and is not compatible with the newer, synthetic ATFs. 

The transmission fluid in automatic automobile models produced before 1970 was Type A which contained whale oil and would often break down at high temperatures. It has been replaced by a synthetic variety that does not degrade under such conditions.

Since the 1970s, auto manufacturers have produced transmissions that require different varieties of automatic transmission fluid to function efficiently to improve fuel efficiency and lower harmful emissions. From 1949 to 1958, GM Type “A” transmission fluids were used by all brands under General Motors‘ umbrella, such as Oldsmobile, Cadillac, Buick, Chevrolet, Pontiac, GMC, Ford, Mercury, Lincoln, Chrysler, Dodge, Desoto, Packard, and Studebaker.

It was eventually replaced by Type F ATF in 1959 and then Dexron ATF in the 1960s. Type A transmission fluid is no longer produced but you may still be able to find it on the market. It is not recommended to use this type of fluid in newer transmissions as it can cause damage. 

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Automatic Transmission Fluid Types

The following are the most common types of ATFs that you will find on the market today:

Type F 

Valvoline Type F (ATF) Automatic Transmission Fluid 1 QT

First introduced by Ford in 1959 for use in their automatic transmissions. Type F ATF is a mineral oil-based fluid and was used by Ford Motors and Toyota which was quite similar to Type-A.


Valvoline DEXRON VI/MERCON LV (ATF) Full Synthetic Automatic Transmission Fluid 1 QT

Dexron fluid is compatible with all GM automatic transmissions produced after 1966 of that era. The Dexron B ATFs are also backward compatible with transmissions that required Type-A. It was composed of a more stable, less reactive, and hydrotreated base oil, therefore, more resistive to heat and anti-oxidation.

Dexron II

Also being the first GM transmission fluid for electronic transmissions, Dexron II was the second in a series of Dexrons (B) produced by General Motors in the 1970s. It was designed to have better viscosity control and additional oxidation inhibitors.

Dexron III

Motul 105776 DEXRON III

Dexron III had improved oxidation and corrosion control compared to its predecessor and was considered to be extremely commercially successful all way up to the early 2000s.


ACDelco GM Original Equipment 10-9395 Dexron VI Automatic Transmission Fluid - 1 gal

This is a low viscosity fully synthetic transmission fluid, and the series continues till today. The success of the Dexron persisted until 2006 when they developed Dexron-VI for use in 6-speed rear-wheel-drive transmissions and ended up replacing the older types of Dexron II and III.


This ATF was introduced by Ford in 1987 for use in their light-duty automatic transmissions. Started by Mercon-type CJ, it was designed to compete with GM Dexron 2, which had the same specifications and was originally developed for Ford C-6 transmissions.

Mercon type H

This was an improved version of Mercon-type C and was designed for better cold flow properties and improved friction characteristics.

Mercon V

Valvoline Mercon V (ATF) Conventional Automatic Transmission Fluid 1 QT

The latest version of Ford’s proprietary ATF, Mercon V was introduced in 1997 for use in their 4R70W/E transmissions. It is a low viscosity fluid that provided improved spread in low time and lubricated the internal parts faster.

Mercon SP

An improved version of Mercon V, Mercon SP was introduced in 2007 for the 6F50N/6F55N transmissions. It has a higher temperature and shear stability to prevent wear and maintain proper fluid pressure.

HFM-Style Fluids

These ATFs are based on a synthetic hydrofluoric acid-magnesium salt and are designed for use in high-performance transmissions that operate at higher temperatures. They provide excellent wear protection and thermal stability.


So, what is the best automatic transmission fluid? The answer is that it depends on your vehicle and what type of ATF it requires. Be sure to check your owner’s manual or with your local mechanic or dealership to find out what is recommended for your car. With so many different types of ATF on the market, it’s important to use the right one to keep your transmission running smoothly.

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