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Midco Lubricants Ask

“What makes a good Automatic Transmission Fluid?”

  To answer that you must know what ATF does. ATF is an energy transfer fluid. It converts mechanical energy into hydraulic energy. It is a lubricant, a heat transfer fluid or coolant, a rust and anti-oxidant preventative. It has anti-foam properties and frictional properties to transfer power between driving members such as clutch plates and bands. It is used to multiply torque repeatably and accurately mile after mile. It contains a blend of carefully assembled additives and base oils to meet all these demands.

So what makes a good ATF? First you have to determine the operating temperature of the transmission. This will tell the blender the type base oil required. Second, the frictional characteristics of the fluid are determined by clutch materials, surface finishes, clutch apply rates, operating pressures and so on. The higher the operating pressures, the higher vaporization pressure of the oil will be needed. For example some oils will vaporize at a pressure as low as 140 psi. Obviously this would not last under the grueling conditions of an automatic transmission. Next, additives are needed to control friction and wear. They must be carefully matched to the application. There is a delicate balance between enough and too much. Anti-foam additives are added to reduce aeration do to constant churning of the fluid between rotating gears and pumps. Anti-oxidants are added to prevent oxidation due to exposure to the air, preventing ATF degradation. Cleaners, usually a sulfonate, are added to clean and prevent gum build up. Viscosity Index Improvers, not to be confused with Viscosity Improvers, determine the parameters of operating temperature while maintaining specification. In general the higher the VI (viscosity index) the longer life for the ATF to “stay in spec”. Viscosity Improvers on the other hand are added to maintain Viscosity or weight of the fluid.

As you can imagine, many additives are blended in exact amounts at varying temperature and pressures to form a proper fluid. Many additives are often substituted with replacement additives, lowering quality, to achieve a lower price. This is never a good idea. Using a lower cost additive will lower immediate cost slightly but will raise your cost in transmission failures or customer complaints. . Meeting specification is one thing, staying in spec is quite another. You cannot simply make it cheaper and expect the same results.

“But I buy a Big Name brand ATF. It must be good” We hear that. But the only thing you may be getting is that Big Name. That does not make it better. Many times it is just the opposite. Big Names cut quality as far as they can to make an extra buck. We do not fault them for that. Midco Lubricants never makes a product “just good enough”. Not only does Midco Lubricants meet all the specifications of the OEM’s, but exceeds these specs substantially by using any additives and base oils known to make a better product.

And then finally we hear “ I don’t care about quality as long as it works” Really. Of course you care. You do not want a failure or a come back due to a poor choice on ATF. Your customer surely cares and yes you do, too.

And this is what makes a good ATF. Good raw materials,

Excellent product knowledge and Caring people.

Midco Lubricants, Rockford, IL   815-229-3150




                                                                                 TB What makes a good ATF?  6-4-12

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