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Discussion Starter #1
I saw some discussion in the ATF change maintenance thread about aftermarket ATF. I decided to post a new thread since this would start to really bring things off topic.

Has anyone ever seen Honda's spec for ATF?
Who certified that these alternative fluids "meet or exceed" Honda's spec?
I bet you already know the answer to these questions.

The MSDS doesn't necessarily give you the complete "recipe" for the product.
**Disclaimer**
I am not an ATF expert and will never claim to have extensive technical and industry knowledge on this topic. However, I have a few opinions on the matter.

We may not know exactly what Honda's spec says word for word and what the spec requires an ATF to do in order to be met. I personally think the two biggest things their fluid spec may call out are material composition and performance in a series of specified tests.

I would guess that the larger aftermarket ATF manufacturers have a pretty good idea of what it takes to closely reproduce the Honda ATF. Given the JASO-A1 standard, MSDS, and a large array of laboratory tools and tests at their disposal, I think they've got a good starting point. Would it be an exact replica? Maybe not, but it would probably close enough that one would never know without performing tests in a lab directed at a specific property.

The aftermarket ATF labs may not know what Honda's ATF specs require in terms of performance. However, they can still test to see how their brew fares against the Honda ATF in regards to of the most important properties. Sure, it may not be exactly what Honda calls out in their spec, but I think from a practical standpoint it is as good as saying an ATF "meets" or "exceeds" the Honda spec from a performance perspective. Perhaps the ATF isn't "certified" to Honda's spec per se, but if they follow industry quality practices, I believe that the tests they ran have at least been certified.

I actually don't recall the ATF manufacturers claiming to "meet" or "exceed" a proprietary OEM ATF spec; I only recall seeing them say the phrases "for use in", "recommended for", or "compatible with".

Given that Honda says to use only their ATF, if, by some chance, your transmission suffers some damage while using an alternate brand of fluid will Valvoline or Redline or Amsoil - or Smitty - pay for a new transmission?
I think you already know the answer to this question too. Everyone has their own level of risk tolerance; but if you look hard enough I think at least for certain brands there's enough information out there for Honda owners to try out an aftermarket ATF without worrying too much. I already have. Also, the ATF manufacturers do have a reputation to uphold. I don't think they'd put out a product claiming to work in a specific application where instead it caused some type of transmission failure; especially in such widely owned vehicles.
 

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valvoline works just fine IME. so does fram filters and whatever oil is on sale.

however, i only use honda vtm4, coolant, and windshield wiper fluid
 

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Discussion Starter #5
So, what's your point?
My point is that other stuff seems to work just as well, even if it doesn't meet Honda's specs word for word.

Given that Honda recommends using only their particular formula of transmission fluid, why would you want to try anything else?
If I have the choice to try something different that works for my vehicle, then why not? :)
 

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My point is that other stuff seems to work just as well, even if it doesn't meet Honda's specs word for word.
If I have the choice to try something different that works for my vehicle, then why not?
Still not seeing your point.

Is there some huge upside benefit to using "other stuff" or "something different?"
What's the disadvantage of using Honda ATF?

I didn't buy a $30K vehicle to conduct experiments on it.
What if the "other stuff" or "something different" doesn't work?
At the minimum, you'll have to drain/refill the ATF four or five times to completely change it.
Worst case, you could end up having to buy a new transmission.
The potential downside risk just doesn't seem worth it.
 

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My interest is synthetic (aftermarket) vs synthetic blend (OEM). You can argue this with just about anything but I've received UOIs on engine oil and it's a duh for Syn for me. Arguably, the two most important fluids are engine oil and Trans fluid. So I transplanted the logic from engine oil. The only thing that kept me away was that there wasn't a company that cited meets/exceeds/comparable for DW-1. I see that now so for a gallon of full syn trans fluid that meets/exceeds/is comparable with DW-1 for $20..........it's worth thinking about for me.
 

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My interest is synthetic (aftermarket) vs synthetic blend (OEM). You can argue this with just about anything but I've received UOIs on engine oil and it's a duh for Syn for me. Arguably, the two most important fluids are engine oil and Trans fluid. So I transplanted the logic from engine oil. The only thing that kept me away was that there wasn't a company that cited meets/exceeds/comparable for DW-1. I see that now so for a gallon of full syn trans fluid that meets/exceeds/is comparable with DW-1 for $20..........it's worth thinking about for me.
Have you had an analysis done on your present transmission fluid?
Keep in mind that a "complete" change of ATF would involve 4-5 drain/refill cycles, so it's about $80-100 to switch over to full synthetic rather than only $20.
 

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ive drained and filled with valvoline atf 6 times and the tranny shifts beautifully. thats about ~$100 in fluid. conversely, it would cost ~5x that amount using honda fluid if i can find it locally or more to have it shipped.
 

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~17k. pretty sure the fluid in it was original when i got it @ 128k. it was blacker than guiness and the TC shudder was horrendous. at 145k now and there is no shudder.
 

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The Z1 version of Honda's ATF is a synthetic blend and seems to be ok stuff. I've done UOA's on all my Honda's (ATF and engine oil) since 2004 and I can tell you the every V6 I've owned showed that at 15k, the ATF was ready for a quick 3qt drop/refresh. 4 bangers proved better.

Doesn't matter what model Honda, if its got a V6, the ATF begins is ready for a 3qt drop/fill refresh at 15k. Would brand of oil make any difference, or going from Z1 to a full high end synthetic? I don't know. Try it, do a UOA around 15k and post the result.

My take is this; From all the UOA's of engine oil I've done, brand nor type makes any difference. But transmissions are DRASTICALLY more complex and have very sophisticated friction material used for bands and clutches internally. Personally, I will only use OEM fluid for transmissions these days, it doesn't matter what I'm driving.

So unless you find a reason NOT to use Z1, what's the problem? It sure is not cost. Is it just because you want to? Well who cares. Do whatever lets you sleep at night.
 

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I've had 99-2000 accords with the dreaded transmission failures. Now a 2011 pilot. Still under warranty so Honda atf for the time being. After warranty,,, I was a bmw tech and was well versed in the zf transmissions when vw had "lifetime fluid" and only recommended their proprietary fluid (zf trans). Transmissions were failing everywhere at 90k. Likewise, Honda has an additive package they prefer. I read this knowing from experience that the Valvoline not only works and works well in both the Honda's and German ZF's, but that Valvoline also claims they will pay for any repairs that are fluid performance related in Honda, BMW and VW.

The only proper way to swap out fluid is to drain the pan, drain the converter when possible, clean the magnet and filter where possible, re-install, fill pan, and then interrupt the cooler.

Run one line from the input side of the transmission to a ready 12 qts atf, run the other line from the output of the cooler into a dump container. Start the car and let idle in park. When the fluid returning into the dump container is clean and clear, you are finished. Shut it down. Re attach all lines per factory, bring the car up to temp with the first fan kick, double check fluid level as per spec.

Honda does not manufacture transmission fluid...

There is a significant savings with the Valvoline over the Honda atf.
I would simply increase the frequency interval to assure a long and trouble free transmission life. 40-50k max. Hot weather, heavy loads, 30k max.

The Valvoline works extremely well, and seems to remain clean for a longer period than the Honda atf.

Coolant is another animal. Phosphorus, etc play a huge role. Best coolant available is through Mercedes. It will meet or exceed anything the brands mentioned above will require. It costs about 28 dollars a gallon wholesale. The whole system needs to be flushed thoroughly with fresh preferably softened water before introducing anything but factory coolant.
 

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Now a 2011 pilot.

The only proper way to swap out fluid is to drain the pan, drain the converter when possible, clean the magnet and filter where possible, re-install, fill pan, and then interrupt the cooler.
Be sure to post photos showing your methods when you perform this maintenance on your Pilot.
 
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