ATF Test Photo Lab

Everyone knows it’s important to use fluids licensed by the manufacturer for that vehicle or transmission. That’s the best ATF solution for each transmission type, because it has undergone all the rigors required by the manufacturers. No other fluid can make that claim. Incorrect fluid use could lead to costly and unexpected maintenance and repairs, as well as decreased fuel economy. Modern transmissions are the complex interaction of thousands of parts, so it’s critical to lubricate properly with a licensed fluid. ATF lab test photos show the difference between using a good licensed ATF and a poor quality fluid on the system parts.

AT Control Body

High-quality ATF (left) and low-quality ATF.
High-quality ATF (left) and low-quality ATF.

A good quality ATF provides sufficient protection against oxidation, and helps minimize carbon/varnish, deposits, and sludge to keep the control body clean. This helps avoid plugging of small orifices that fluid must pass through to lubricate properly.

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AT Forward Clutch Housing and AT Forward Clutch Piston

High-quality ATF (left) and low-quality ATF.
High-quality ATF (left) and low-quality ATF.
High-quality ATF (left) and low-quality ATF.
High-quality ATF (left) and low-quality ATF.

The wrong ATF can cause oxidation, which leads to decomposition of the product, resulting in sludge build-up. Sludge settles in the housing and valve body and can significantly impact the performance of the transmission.   It’s very thick and dense and cannot properly lubricate parts, which can lead to a loss of transmission performance.

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Internal AT Metal Parts

High-quality ATF (left) and low-quality ATF.
High-quality ATF (left) and low-quality ATF.

An improper AT fluid can cause the transmission parts to be more prone to oxidation, which increases acidity. Acidity can lead to corrosion and pitting of metal parts, which will eventually lead to additional wear and eventual failure of the transmission part.

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Wear Protection

High-quality ATF (left) and low-quality ATF.
High-quality ATF (left) and low-quality ATF.

Transmissions contain many moving parts. The more lubricated the parts, the better they tolerate the stress and wear associated with metal-to-metal contact. This photo demonstrates no wear with a licensed fluid versus the significant wear from a poor quality ATF.

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Foam Control

High-quality ATF (left) and low-quality ATF.
High-quality ATF (left) and low-quality ATF.

Controlling foam in a transmission fluid is critical to the protection of transmission parts. Foam inhibits ATF pumping throughout the system, lubrication and it promotes wear. Foam also reduces hydraulic performance and torque transfer, which leads to power loss.

Photos show the amount of foam generated by a poor quality ATF versus that rendered by a licensed fluid.

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Low Temperature Performance

Improper fluids cannot flow at low temperatures.
Improper fluids cannot flow at low temperatures.

Viscosity of fluid can change radically in low temperatures if not carefully formulated. If the fluid thickens in cold weather conditions, it will not flow or pump adequately through the transmission system. Without these vital fluids, the transmission is subject to friction imbalance, which can lead to vibration or power loss. It can also cause sluggish shifting and excessive heat generation. All this promotes wear of transmission parts.

The complexity of a transmission and lubricating all its moving parts is crucial to transmission performance. Maintaining the delicate balance between all the specifications considered in developing an automatic transmission fluid is also crucial. That’s why choosing a licensed fluid is so important. And that’s a fact!

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