All You Should Know About Type A Transmission Fluid

Selecting a proper transmission fluid can be a complicated process. You must be more precise about which oil you should choose for your transmission. Picking the wrong fluid can damage your transmission due to incorrect oil specs. Generally, knowing which oil is best for your transmission is very important.

When purchasing Type a transmission fluid, you must first identify the type of gearbox your vehicle is equipped with. Each gearbox needs a specific oil with additives, viscosity, and friction coefficient. We’ll learn more about Type A transmission fluid here, so keep reading.

What Is Type A Transmission Fluid?

Type A transmission fluid is a premium economical fluid. Manufacturers use a selected base oil and functional additives to reduce foaming.

It also has a leak detector feature. Most importantly, you can use Type A fluids only, as recommended in vehicles that require mineral oil lubrication.

Type A transmission fluid is semi-automatic and ‘hydra magic. All brands under General Motors properties, like Oldsmobile, Cadillac, Chevrolet, etc., used GM Type “A” transmission fluid from 1949-1958.

General Motors released a new product to replace the Type A. It was known as type “A” suffix “A” liquid. Usually, this new fluid can withstand the high temperatures generated by the newly developed torque converter.

What Is Type A Transmission Fluid Used For

Type A transmission fluid was the equivalent of Type F, used by Ford Motor and Toyota. But Type F fluid was less smooth than Type A. It was used until the mid-60s when Dexron and Mercon replaced it.

Type A transmission fluid was launched in the mid-1950s for all General Motors automobile brands’ automatic transmissions. Usually, Type A was used in the mid-1960s and later revised to Type A, suffix A. Therefore, Type A fluid contains whale oil, which breaks down at high temperatures; newer model cars don’t have it.

Type A Transmission Fluid Vs. Dexron

Type A transmission fluid was developed in the 1950s for automatic transmission systems. This oil can’t hold up at high temperatures and breaks down quickly. The transmission system was comprehensive, even if it needed more frequent changes and damage.

Because of these challenges, manufacturers needed to think differently. They began to develop more eco-friendly systems. After that, there has been a marked evolution in fluid formulation, making them better suited to better transmission systems.

Dexron is a first-generation automatic transmission fluid. They were produced in the mid-60s after Type A transmission fluids. If you compare Type A vs. Dexron, it’s real that Dexron is more stable and less reactive. Hence, this Dexron is made up of hydrotreated base oils.

Thus, it is more resistant to heat and anti-oxidation. Typically, this fluid was first used by GM Dye Red as a fluid leak detection aid. Additionally, Dexron is compatible with all Type “A” fluids manufactured by GM and furnished in GM automobiles.

Type A Transmission Fluid Equivalent

Type A transmission fluid has three equivalents: Redline D4, Valvoline DEX/Merc, and Mobil1 Synthetic ATF. Let’s know more about them:

  • Redline D4 Automatic Transmission Fluid

Red Line D4 ATF is fully synthetic fluid. Low viscosity characterizes it with enhanced thermal stability. It has easy flow at low and smooth flow at high temperatures and provides continuous lubrication. So it offers long-lasting performance, and you can use this fluid as a Type A.

  • Valvoline DEX/MERC ATF

This fluid formulation aims to meet the demands of current automatic transmission systems. Its advanced additives provide extraordinary performance.

Also, film protection prevents oxidation during high temperatures, while low viscosity ensures excellent flow when cold.

  • Mobil 1 Synthetic ATF

Mobile 1 ATF is a synthetic fluid that lubricates transmission systems in all weather conditions. In addition, its specific additives help to keep the system clean. The anti-shudder feature provides a smooth shifting experience. In contact, the anti-wear protects your transmission system from damage.

Unfortunately, you can use these equivalents when you don’t find any Type A transmission fluid in the market. All these equivalents can work better, like type A transmission fluid.

ATF Type A Vs Type F

Type A is one of the ATF lubes from the early ’60s. The Type F only had a Ford transmission fluid and some 70’s imported power steering fluid.

ATF type A transmission fluid slips longer than type F. If you put ATF type A in your Ford, you may see the transmission fluid going out. But if you put Type F in your Chevy, it will get tough. Type F has a friction modifier, and Type A transmission fluid does not contain these features.

You can use this Type F transmission fluid, particularly older Mazda, Toyota, Volvo, and other imported cars. Besides this, you can also use this Type F fluid for some Ford power steering systems.

Type A Transmission Fluid Toyota

In terms of quality, Toyota brand items are among the best. The appropriate Toyota automatic transmission fluid will be identified on the transmission dipstick or in the owner’s handbook.

Only at the dealership can one buy ATF under the Toyota brand. The price will be similar to alternative synthetic ATF, and you’ll be assured that your automobile has all it requires.

Using Type A transmission fluid isn’t the perfect choice for your Toyota. It’s because those transmission fluids can damage your Toyota transmission system. That’s why it will be best not to use Type A transmission fluid in your Toyota vehicles. Instead of Type A transmission fluid, you can use Dexron VI and Dexron III or II and VI automatic transmission fluid.

Check Dexron 3 Vs Dexron 6

Furthermore, it’s also perfect for specific Japanese vehicles which need Toyota WS and T-IV fluids. ATF Type T-II, T-III, and T-IV fluid is the ideal choice for Toyota. Ultimately, following your Toyota owner’s manual is best before using any transmission fluid in your Toyota.

Type A Transmission Fluid

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions):

Q. What replaced Type A transmission fluid?

Although Type A transmission fluid is a premium economical fluid, it was later replaced by Type A suffix A transmission fluid in the late 1950s. Type A suffix A is replaced by Dexron B. Hence, Type A and Type A suffixes are compatible with Dexron B, II, and III transmission fluid.

Check Dexron 2 Vs 3

Q. What color is ATF Type A?

ATF type A transmission fluid color is red or green. It comes with these two colors to distinguish this fluid from car motor oils and other liquids.

It is usually colored red or green to distinguish it from car motor oil and other fluids. This Technical Service Bulletin offers background on various transmission fluids past and present.

Q. Can you mix different types of transmission fluid?

Mixing transmission fluids is not recommended, as most tranny fluids aren’t compatible with some transmission types. And if you combine them, it will cause catastrophic deterioration to your car’s tranny unit. Each transmission requires a specific fluid recommended by the manufacturer to run adequately and smoothly.

Although it is unusual to mix transmission fluid, car owners often use the wrong one. Using improper fluids or mixing other tranny fluids can break your transmission efficiency and shorten tranny life.

Q. What Is The Type A Transmission Fluid Viscosity?

The viscosity index of ATF varies between 146 and 180. The addition of protectors has been infinitely reduced from 147 to 178. The four-ball wear procedure tested the properties of wear protection of the fluids, ASTM 4172.

Final Thought

In short, Type A transmission fluid is no longer available in the market. The reason is that older vehicles produced in the 1950s used Type A transmission fluid to lubricate the automatic transmission. Since Type A fluid contains whale oil, it breaks down at high temperatures.

Eventually, if you face this problem, you can ask experts what fluid type you can use in this closed area. Fortunately, it was discovered that the old Type A was about a 50/50 mixture of Type F (Ford) and Dexron (GM).

If you are still determining the precise way to make this modern Type A transmission fluid, our knowledgeable technicians can help you. Especially if you’re dealing with a vintage car, the more attention paid to such details, the better.


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I am Engr. Z Eusuf Lubricant Specialist, Mechanical Engineer & has been working with engine lubricants for a long time and knows what makes them work best. I can help you find the right oil for your needs, and I have tips on how to keep your engine running at its best.