When it comes to transmission additives, why are the shelves at most auto suppliers loaded with “miracle” fluids that will allegedly make up for a prior lack of maintenance? Can these additives actually fix a transmission?
Lets be frank. There are no “miracle” fluids that can substitute for preventative maintenance, this is just common sense. The only way to repair a transmission problem is to properly diagnose it by road testing, scanning the computer, and removing the pan for inspection.
Fluid additives do offer limited benefits for vehicles being used for certain tasks or in certain climates or weather conditions. Here we’ll cover the basics of ATF importance, why most vehicles don’t require these additives and the instances when ATF additives can help.
First of all, a refresher on why we need ATF in the first place. ATF is essential to the smooth running of a vehicle’s transmission. ATF has lubricants, protectants and detergents that protect the transmission and keeps it in good working order.
Generally, most vehicles are simply used to take people to work, school or shopping so don’t need ATF additives. For these everyday activities the manufacturer recommended automatic transmission fluid alone should be enough to protect the transmission in most situations they will encounter. As long as the owner of the vehicle takes the time to makes sure there is enough transmission fluid in it and they change the transmission fluid when it is dirty there should be no need for an automatic transmission fluid additive.
There is no fluid that will;
- unclog plugged filters
- free-up stuck valves/solenoids
- reduce internal corrosion
- improve shift feel/firmness
- prolong the life of your transmission
- replace the friction material on your transmission’s clutch plates
- put the teeth back on the stripped gears
Keep in mind that most vehicle manufacturers have warnings in their owner’s manuals stating: “Do not use supplemental oil additives, cleaners or other treatments. They are unnecessary and could lead to damage that is not covered by warranty.” Or: “Using supplemental additives is generally unnecessary and can even be harmful. One should never use an additive to attempt to fix a mechanical problem.”
Who could benefit from using additives?
A small majority of vehicle owners could potentially benefit from using these additives. Mainly, vehicles with high mileage which are constantly being used to tow heavy loads in adverse weather conditions. Heat and wear are the enemies of a transmission. Vehicles which are involved in racing or towing heavy loads are hard on transmissions. They often generate excessive heat. While transmissions have built-in systems to mitigate some of this heat and strain these activities cause, the transmissions in vehicles which are under a great deal of stress can often benefit from using automatic transmission fluid additives.
For the owners of these vehicles the minor cost of additives makes using them a no brainer. Hence, there seem to be instances when ATF additives can help yet even in those situations, however, it is essential to get the right ATF additive.
So, the next time someone tells you they have a miraculous transmission additive for sale you’ll know better.