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Thread: Tell me about automatic transmission fluid please.

  1. #1
    pgmrdan Guest

    Default Tell me about automatic transmission fluid please.

    I see so many references to using ATF in so many different ways. What's the deal with ATF? I'm not familiar with it enough to know what's going on with using it in anything other than an automatic transmission.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
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    ATF is well refined mineral oil with lots of detergent and stabilizer additives.

    It's got the entire chemistry shelf of anti oxidents, temperature and wear additives. It's good when it's hot, and good when it's cold. It cuts through gums and varnishes and keeps fine finished bores and sliding stuff in good condition.

    In the shop it's great for the oil can, good for cleaning gummy lubrication systems.
    One thing it does not do is stick. It's not way lube in that sense, but I use it to wipe the bedways prior to a work session. It flys off of spinning chucks , and won't stay long on a fast moving chain.

    ATF isn't particularly hard on bare skin (mine anyway), and it doesn't smell bad.

    It's NOT thread cutting oil, but works great for machining Aluminum. (cut with kerosene)

    Oh, It's not expensive either.

    I like the stuff and always look for ways to use it in the shop.

  3. #3
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by pgmrdan View Post
    I see so many references to using ATF in so many different ways. ..................
    Just because an anonymous person of unknown qualifications on an internet forum has posted that he uses ATF in his transmission, engine, differential and radiator and IT WORKS GREAT!, doesn't mean it's a good idea.

    Steve

  4. #4
    pgmrdan Guest

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveF View Post
    Just because an anonymous person of unknown qualifications on an internet forum has posted that he uses ATF in his transmission, engine, differential and radiator and IT WORKS GREAT!, doesn't mean it's a good idea.

    Steve
    Yep, that's why I'm asking you guys before I begin experimenting with it ... IF I begin experimenting with it. Thanks!

  5. #5
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    My two cents is that it's called "automatic transmission fluid" and not "multi-purpose lubricant" for good reason. Engines have engine oil, transmissions have ATF. Could you switch the two around? Sure. Though they may work, A trans with engine oil and an engine with trans fluid aren't going to work for long. I agree with CalM that ATF works pretty good for flushing things, but I wouldn't use it as a lubricant.

  6. #6
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    Ivins, Ut
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    ATF is a relatively light oil, and mixed with 20-25% kerosene makes a great quench for hardening many alloys. I typically preheat the quench to roughly 120F before dunking the part.

  7. #7
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    Many modern cars use ATF in manual transmissions and transaxles. Some tractors do too. It's a great lubricant...For some things.

  8. #8
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    It's anti foaming and works well in jacks and other hydraulic equipment.

    JL..............

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
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    28

    Default

    In the olden days there was one type. It never was Sperm Oil as you often read from the
    experts, although Sperm Oil was an additive in small amounts. When GM invented Dexron [not Dextron as the experts say] what differed was no Sperm Oil and a specific additive package that was developed with specific wet clutch friction characteristics. Ford stayed with a minimal additive package [Type F] but no Sperm Oil with the wonderful idea that because it had less lubricity they could get by with less clutches for a given torque/weight than GM. It was a fantastic idea that I really supported and a big reason why I no longer have a mortgage. Of course, every expert knew you had to switch to Type F for high performance [thanks, B+M] so that was good for business, too.

    Things got more complex with the advent of torque converter clutches and the rise of European automatic transmissions, as opposed to license built copies of American ones. So it seems almost everyone has their own blend of vehicle specific ATF which, in the Euro tradition is often exorbitantly expensive. In general you are well advised to use exactly what ATF the mfr calls for these days. While there is of course synthetic ATF too, the underlying viscosity and other base characteristics don't appear to vary that much. What differs is the additive package and it interacts with the seal material to some extent and too the friction characteristics of the specific wet clutches to a great extent.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by jd99 View Post
    In the olden days there was one type. It never was Sperm Oil as you often read from the
    experts, although Sperm Oil was an additive in small amounts. When GM invented Dexron [not Dextron as the experts say] what differed was no Sperm Oil and a specific additive package that was developed with specific wet clutch friction characteristics. Ford stayed with a minimal additive package [Type F] but no Sperm Oil with the wonderful idea that because it had less lubricity they could get by with less clutches for a given torque/weight than GM. It was a fantastic idea that I really supported and a big reason why I no longer have a mortgage. Of course, every expert knew you had to switch to Type F for high performance [thanks, B+M] so that was good for business, too.

    Things got more complex with the advent of torque converter clutches and the rise of European automatic transmissions, as opposed to license built copies of American ones. So it seems almost everyone has their own blend of vehicle specific ATF which, in the Euro tradition is often exorbitantly expensive. In general you are well advised to use exactly what ATF the mfr calls for these days. While there is of course synthetic ATF too, the underlying viscosity and other base characteristics don't appear to vary that much. What differs is the additive package and it interacts with the seal material to some extent and too the friction characteristics of the specific wet clutches to a great extent.
    jd99

    Those are all "Automatic transmission Fluid" issues. This is a thread on all the OTHER uses! ;-)

    Personally, I run Universal Tractor Transmission Oil" UTTO in anything with a gearbox that does not specify ATF . That includes the Lathes and their aprons gear boxes delivering lube to the bed ways!

    No lubrication failures to date!

    Just a note, John Deere did a study on the use of UTTO vs "gear oil" in the front drive axles of a fleet of agricultural tractors. What they found was "More seal failures" associated with the gear lube, and no additional mechanical failures associated with the UTTO.
    There have been some "tests" on using UTTO for IC engine lubrication. No Indications of deficiency, but no one is willing to sign up for endorsement either. ;-) Horses for courses!

    Bottom line. There are very few "poor" lubricants from reputable sources.
    Last edited by CalM; 08-08-2017 at 12:44 AM.

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