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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had some shudder issues with my 5 speed AT on a 2012 Pilot EX-L 4WD that no one could fix until I read here that Valvoline Max Life ATF in some cases works better than Honda's recommended branded ATF. I did 4 D&Rs and each one made a noticeable improvement, until the 4th one at which point the shudder all but disappeared.

While Honda OEM fluids are generally more expensive than aftermarket equivalents depending on where you buy them, when I get the rare urge to perform some maintenance tasks or the MM flashes a reminder I need to do something now, driving to the nearest Honda dealer or waiting for mail order just adds to the list of reasons that locally available, generally less expensive equivalents might make more sense than thinking using all genuine Honda OEM fluids is better for your car than it is for Honda's bottom line.

On my 1993 Nissan Quest with 240,000 miles which runs fine to this day, not only did I never use OEM factory fluids, but I never did change the differential fluid, brake fluid, or power steering fluid. I did change the oil and filter regularly with Amsoil, the coolant every few years, and the transmission fluid once. Aside from the regular maintenance items, batteries, tires, cv joints ... it's been life is good.

I know lubes, fluids, change intervals are a controversial topic, but really, if I stick to the service level requirements of aftermarket fluids, surely that's a lot better than the shameful lack of using any brand fluids for any changes on the Quest and yet it has remarkedly survived in spite of me. I'm sure the tolerances were wider in those days making it less critical to exactly what formulations were used for fluid changes, but it seems much is made of using ONLY GENUINE HONDA OEM fluids these days. Is there much documented proof that using aftermarket products of equivalent service ratings harms or shortens the life of your Pilot? Especially when waiting until you can get to or be able to afford GENUINE OEM HONDA fluids to do the maintenance, could cause more damage than using equivalent fluids on schedule.

I've used Amsoil all synthetic on all my vehicles since dirt was invented and I may not outlive some of them.
 

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TL/DR sorry.

Short answer to the title is:
Use only VTM4 fluid for that rear end.

Use any good gear oil for the transfer case.

Use Valvoline MaxLife ATF for any and all drain and fills on the tranny.

I have used Prestone Power Steering fluid w/o any problem.

Etc.
 

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I’d add Redline D4 atf. Shifts were buttery smooth and better than either Honda or Maxlife.
 

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This stuff isn't magic. There are a limited number of lubricants plants in North America, making a limited number of products. If you can find something cheaper that meets the spec for the OEM stuff, it's functionally the same. Last I heard, nobody has found something else that matches the VTM lube, so substituting there is riskier.

I agree that not changing fluids at all is worse than using the "wrong" stuff. I doubt that there's any publicly available data on whether Honda vs. third party actually makes a difference. Anecdotally, several regular participants here (like The Todd and Rocky) have been fine with third party. You can't go too far wrong if you're reasonable about substitutions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
This stuff isn't magic. There are a limited number of lubricants plants in North America, making a limited number of products. If you can find something cheaper that meets the spec for the OEM stuff, it's functionally the same. Last I heard, nobody has found something else that matches the VTM lube, so substituting there is riskier.
I agree ... and I also haven't seen anyone professing to have found an acceptable equivalent to VTM lube. Could they have packaged it any more inconveniently??
 

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Big believer in Max-Life in 5-speed Honda Transmissions. Logged 100s of 1000s of miles using it in various Hondas.
Prestone Concentrate Coolant. I mix with distilled water. Go green, it was green before. Nothing magical about blue and over paying for the water that's bottled in the 50/50.
Any inexpensive Dot 3 brake fluid has ever failed me.
I'd use Honda fluids in the transfer case and Dif (if I owned AWD).
I only use Honda Power Steering fluid. Never felt the need to change. It works.
Now the 6-speed Honda transmission has been a different animal. After Honda DW-1 along with the VCM and torque converter clutch lock issue that almost destroyed my transmission, I went all Full Synthetic Valvoline MaxLife ATF in it, and I honestly have not been happy with the firm shifts. Today, I decided to do a drain and fill using Amalie Universal Synthetic ATF. My shifts were noticeably smoother. I am optimistic.
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Is that the stuff that's $50/gal (even at Walmart) ?! How much do you add?
I wasn’t clear. Just adding redline to the list of atf fluids to use
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Big believer in Max-Life in 5-speed Honda Transmissions. Logged 100s of 1000s of miles using it in various Hondas.
Prestone Concentrate Coolant. I mix with distilled water. Go green, it was green before. Nothing magical about blue and over paying for the water that's bottled in the 50/50.
Any inexpensive Dot 3 brake fluid has ever failed me.
I'd use Honda fluids in the transfer case and Dif (if I owned AWD).
I only use Honda Power Steering fluid. Never felt the need to change. It works.
Now the 6-speed Honda transmission has been a different animal. After Honda DW-1 along with the VCM and torque converter clutch lock issue that almost destroyed my transmission, I went all Full Synthetic Valvoline MaxLife ATF in it, and I honestly have not been happy with the firm shifts. Today, I decided to do a drain and fill using Amalie Universal Synthetic ATF. My shifts were noticeably smoother. I am optimistic.
I'm there with you on the Valvoline MaxLife. Solved some TC shudder issues with my 5 spd. Do they make MaxLife blends other than full synthetic?
Good to hear the Amalie softened the shifts on your 6 spd. Interesting how sensitive these ATs are to different brand ATFs.
It's amazing all the damage VCM helps create ... you'd think they'd design it out or make it right. It's not like people buy 6 cylinder Hondas these day of $2 gas for their great gas mileage.
 

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I'm there with you on the Valvoline MaxLife. Solved some TC shudder issues with my 5 spd. Do they make MaxLife blends other than full synthetic?
Good to hear the Amalie softened the shifts on your 6 spd. Interesting how sensitive these ATs are to different brand ATFs.
It's amazing all the damage VCM helps create ... you'd think they'd design it out or make it right. It's not like people buy 6 cylinder Hondas these day of $2 gas for their great gas mileage.
I don't know of any Valvoline ATF blends. They do make other Full Synthetic ATFs (not for Honda).
Honda used awsome vtec technology that originally was designed to boost performance, to boost there fuel mileage numbers. This was done at the consumers expense with more repair bills and a vehicle that quite frankly won't last as long. So VCM disabling is prolonging the life of my vehicle while sacrificing of a small amount of fuel economy.
 

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What gets me most about the Honda VTM4 fluid is the packaging. For my Pilot, it's too much for one d&r but not enough for two. ugh.
I'm saving mine. After the next Rear diff d&f, then 1 more, I'll probably have enough saved for the next one. I don't think it really has a 'shelf life' and my garage never gets that hot anyways.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
I don't know of any Valvoline ATF blends. They do make other Full Synthetic ATFs (not for Honda).
Honda used awsome vtec technology that originally was designed to boost performance, to boost there fuel mileage numbers. This was done at the consumers expense with more repair bills and a vehicle that quite frankly won't last as long. So VCM disabling is prolonging the life of my vehicle while sacrificing of a small amount of fuel economy.
Where do you get the vtm4 and transfer case lubes? I'm not having the best of luck finding it local. Plus Honda dealer in Sanford parts dept not open. I'm not crazy about the prices but what I like is Amazon Prime can get this here tomorrow and I only have to travel to my front gate.


142804
 

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Where do you get the vtm4 and transfer case lubes? I'm not having the best of luck finding it local. Plus Honda dealer in Sanford parts dept not open. I'm not crazy about the prices but what I like is Amazon Prime can get this here tomorrow and I only have to travel to my front gate.


View attachment 142804
I buy PS fluid at my local dealership.
Prime is great. I'd at least price check other online shippers.
 

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I don't think it really has a 'shelf life' and my garage never gets that hot anyways.
I think that's a safe bet on VTM-4 fluid.

I found this post by someone that sent it in for analysis. Not much practical information, other than that it's viscosity is similar to ATF. Probably pretty simple stuff with some additives proprietary to Honda. Even in a hot garage, it's probably going to be fine for a few years with the cap on the bottle.

Someone in the thread noted that VTM-4 fluid is made by Idemitsu Lubricants America. Must be a gold mine for those guys. Looks like their plant in Indiana was built in 1992. I'm guessing they followed Honda (Ohio plant opened in 1982) and Toyota (Kentucky plant opened in 1988).
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
I buy PS fluid at my local dealership.
Prime is great. I'd at least price check other online shippers.
Wow, I love Amazon Prime, this was ordered late yesterday and arrived this morning. I had to walk all the way to the front gate to get it. (They aren't allowed to use the driveways anymore.)

Cheaper than the dealer parts dept and I'll have this in the differential a day before they even open.

Best price I found was eBay for $25 ... BUT, shipping was $16.25... and it was in a bottle with a purple and red label not gray and black, so I don't know if it was old or from foreign stock maybe. Amazon price was $33.51, no shipping $$.

142846
 

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Wow, I love Amazon Prime, this was ordered late yesterday and arrived this morning. I had to walk all the way to the front gate to get it. (They aren't allowed to use the driveways anymore.)

View attachment 142846
That's amazing delivery time.
Prime Drone?
142848
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
That's amazing delivery time.
Prime Drone?
View attachment 142848
Although most deliveries are in those gray Amazon vans, the really fast (some same day) ones are often some guy or gal using what appears to be their own personal car. One guy showed up twice in an hour and he said he had to make two trips because he couldn't fit our whole order in his car for the first trip. Haven't seen a delivery by drone yet.
 

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Hello,
When I drain/refill ATF, can I use different fluid? The current one is from Honda and I would like to drain/refill using "Valvoline Multi-Vehicle (ATF) Full Synthetic Automatic Transmission Fluid". As it is drain/refill, mix of two different ATF fluid (from two different manufacturer) wouldn't cause issue?
 
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