ATF Additives: Do They Really Work?

Posted August 17, 2011

As you stroll along the isles of your local auto parts store, you’ll probably stumble across a section dedicated to automatic transmission fluid additives. The labels on these additives offer promises that range from simply making your transmission last longer, all the way up to a rebuild in a can.

The question is: Do these additives really work?

In most cases, unfortunately, the answer is no. In general, the additives that you’ll find on the shelves of a consumer-oriented parts store won’t really deliver on their extravagant promises. And the more exaggerated the claim, the less likely it is to make good.

That’s not to say all transmission additives are snake oil… far from it. There are some highly effective additives on the market that can significantly extend the life of your transmission. But chances are, you won’t find them on the shelves of your local auto parts store.

These effective additives are usually only available through your local transmission repair center. They make more realistic claims, such as:

  • Neutralize acids that build up in the transmission fluid
  • Provide additional resistance to the effects of heat
  • Prevent or reverse fluid oxidation
  • Prevent or reverse fluid sheer
  • Modify friction characteristics to improve transmission performance
  • Provide additional lubrication to moving parts
  • Soften and remove varnish from internal components

While not as exciting as the claims made by the additives on the consumer shelf, these additives have the advantage of being able to deliver on their promises. Because of this, they can improve transmission operation and increase transmission life.

So don’t waste your money on additives that claim to offer a “new transmission in a can.”

Categories: Car Repair

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