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Is There a Difference Between Gear Oil And Automatic Transmission Fluid? | Zumbrota, MN

August 19th, 2015 · 1 Comment

Transmissions are integral to any car, manual or automatic. Without the proper fluids, your transmission will fail, and without a functioning transmission, your car is basically a huge paperweight! At Zumbrota Bearing and Gear, we offer a complete line of new, used, and remanufactured transmissions in Zumbrota, MN.

We remanufacture and sell transmissions, and we know firsthand how improper maintenance can destroy a good system. When you buy a car, be aware of the correct fluids it requires, whether you own a manual or automatic.

While some manual transmissions now use automatic transmission fluid (ATF), most manuals use a variety of fluids for optimal engine and gear function. Gear oil isn’t the same thing as ATF, and knowing the differences can make or break your car.

ATF Basics:
• ATF is a complex fluid full of lubricants and detergents that keep the transmission running smoothly with minimal wear. ATF also works as a hydraulic fluid for power steering systems and some 4WD cases in automatic cars.
• Along with lubricant and detergent, ATF also contains a combination of additives including anti-wear additives, additives that block rust and corrosion, dispersants and surfactants that protect and clean metal parts in a transmission, kinematic viscosity and viscosity index improvers, seal swell additives that increase rotational speed and temperature range, anti-foam additives, anti-oxidation compounds, cold-flow improvers, high-temperature thickeners, gasket conditioners, pour point depressant, and some form of petroleum dye.
• To distinguish ATF from gear oil in a pinch, remember ATF is a much thinner fluid and is usually colored red or green.

Gear oil basics:
• Gear oil works to lubricate and prevent corrosion in a manual transmission.
• Because manual transmissions experience high friction during gear changes and clutch press-and-release, gear oil has additives of sulfur-bearing anti-wear compounds. This gives gear oil a distinctive, strong smell.
• Gear oil is also thicker than ATF because it serves mainly to lubricate the gearbox, transfer cases, and differentials.

Incorrectly using ATF in a manual transmission or gear oil in an automatic transmission can severely increase the wear and tear. ATF does not have the thick lubrication qualities needed in a manual gearbox, and gear oil does not contain all the additives needed to smoothly run an automatic transmission.

If you’re in need of a new or rebuilt transmission, contact Zumbrota Bearing and Gear. We stock a wide variety of manual transmission for immediate delivery, and if we don’t have what you need on-hand, we’ll find it!

Tags: manual transmissions · Transfer Cases · Transmissions ·


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