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Three ATF's Analyzed #5169998 07/24/19 05:57 PM
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Three ATF’s were analyzed by two labs, one a university lab and another a commercial lab to determine their elemental and chemical composition because of on-going debates about the suitability of each fluid for various applications. The three ATF’s analyzed were: Genuine Honda DW-1, Valvoline MaxLife, and Idemitsu Type H-Plus.

All ATF’s were purchased in early July at the author’s expense.

Analytical analysis used was FTIR, C-NMR, and H-NMR on various instrumentation types.

Two of the fluids, Valvoline MaxLife, and Idemitsu Type H-Plus were purchased from a local auto parts store while the Genuine Honda DW-1 was purchased from a Honda Dealer at the parts counter. The price of the Genuine Honda DW-1 and Idemitsu Type H averaged about $8.11 per quart. The price of the Valvoline MaxLife averaged about $5.00/quart.

Note: Only the elemental analysis for Boron down to Zinc will be reported since any elements < 2ppm usually represent some chemical “tag” or very low levels of metal inhibitor chemistry.

This analysis will not disclose any base oil, Friction Modifier, or other possible proprietary compounds. Readers are referred to the respective manufacturers’ web sites for ATF properties, claims, and coverage, or “Suitable for Use in” categories. Note: “Suitable for Use In” does NOT equate to equivalency!

All elemental and viscosity values were averaged over the samples.

Original Honda DW-1™ (Part # beginning with 08200-):
Boron - 272
Silicon - 4
Sodium - 3
Calcium - 353
Magnesium - 204
Phosphorus - 2
Zinc – 320
[email protected] – 6.93 cSt
Commentary and Opinion: The chemical signature for this ATF is essentially the same as Honda’s Z-1 fluid and is indicative of fluids used in Automated Manual transmissions. To the author’s knowledge, no Step-Shift ATF chemical signature compares. Notable is the level of the Zinc compounds needed for the internals of Automated Manual transmissions.

Owners’ of Step-Shift automatic transmissions should avoid using this product in any Step-Shift automatic transmission.


Label - Valvoline MaxLife™ (Part # beginning with 773):
Boron - 272
Silicon - 2
Sodium - 8
Calcium - 230
Magnesium - 3
Phosphorus - 579
Zinc – 3
[email protected] – 5.91 cSt

Commentary and Opinion: The chemical signature for this ATF is indicative of the later Dexron and Dex/Merc series of ATF’s based on the original Dexron through the Dexron III(H)) and Dexron VI series of ATF’s. It is closely comparative to the GM Dexron VI formulations as well as to their own Dexron VI offering, and can be classified as a low Viscosity ATF. What is notable is a boost in the Ant-Wear Phosphorus compound of about 200 ppm.

The manufacturer claims coverage, or “Suitable for Use in” (no equivalency claims) for Honda/Acura’s Z-1 and DW-1. I do not see how this could be the case when compared to the DW-1 analysis above.

Valvoline could claim coverage of Idemitsu’s fluid because Idemitsu Type-H is claiming coverage of Honda Z-1 and DW-1 (see below), but this would be a gross overstepping of “read-across” coverage, and nowhere in Valvoline’s PI sheets do I see “Suitable for Use in” Idemitsu Type H-Plus applications.


Label - Idemitsu Type H-Plus™ (Part # beginning with 30040090-):
Boron - 30
Silicon - 2
Sodium - 3
Calcium - 265
Magnesium - 2
Phosphorus - 245
Zinc – 3
[email protected] – 5.91 cSt

Commentary and Opinion: The chemical signature for this ATF is indicative of the fluid used in many Asian-made Step-Shift automatic transmissions. As you can see from the MaxLife comments it is very similar to the GM Dexron series.

However, the Idemitsu label claims, “ATF Type-H plus Engineered for Honda Z-1 and DW-1.” Again, looking at the analysis for the Original Honda DW-1, I fail to see how this could be the case.

Conclusion: While this article may not settle all debates, one should closely examine these analyses and educate themselves on the various offerings and claims in order to determine “suitability” for their vehicles’ transmission.

Last edited by MolaKule; 07/24/19 06:15 PM.

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Re: Three ATF's Analyzed [Re: MolaKule] #5170008 07/24/19 06:13 PM
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Interesting, what makes the increase in Z, Mg, C and the reduction of P makes for a automated manual transmission?

Isn't friction one of the most critical part of what one fluid shift vs another? In reality how close are they from each other on the dyno?


"You keep asking questions PandaBear and you'll end up a vegetarian like my wife" - Camu Mahubah
Re: Three ATF's Analyzed [Re: MolaKule] #5170009 07/24/19 06:14 PM
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Thank you MolaKule. Good stuff.


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Re: Three ATF's Analyzed [Re: PandaBear] #5170018 07/24/19 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by PandaBear
Interesting, what makes the increase in Z, Mg, C and the reduction of P makes for a automated manual transmission?


Quote
...is indicative of fluids used in Automated Manual transmissions. To the author’s knowledge, no Step-Shift ATF chemical signature compares. Notable is the level of the Zinc compounds needed for the internals of Automated Manual transmissions.


Originally Posted by PandaBear
Isn't friction one of the most critical part of what one fluid shift vs another?


Friction Modifiers


Last edited by MolaKule; 07/24/19 06:25 PM.

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Re: Three ATF's Analyzed [Re: MolaKule] #5170054 07/24/19 06:58 PM
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This was very interesting- thanks MolaKule!


So I have a question for you Mola, if that's alright. We know many members here have run aftermarket ATFs in their transmissions, these two included. If you were to give a best guess, does ATF such as the Maxlife and Idemitsu tested above work in Honda transmissions in spite of its additive package, or does the additive not impact the transmissions ability to perform its functions? If the latter, could we assume that long term damage may be done due to the different formulas despite short term proper operation?

Re: Three ATF's Analyzed [Re: MolaKule] #5170059 07/24/19 07:09 PM
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In AMT fluids, the Calcium and Magnesium serve as the main friction modifiers.

The zinc compound is a Mult-Functional compound acting as an AW, corrosion inhibitor, and antioxidant.


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Re: Three ATF's Analyzed [Re: JustN89] #5170072 07/24/19 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by JustN89
This was very interesting- thanks MolaKule!


...We know many members here have run aftermarket ATFs in their transmissions, these two included. If you were to give a best guess, does ATF such as the Maxlife and Idemitsu tested above work in Honda transmissions in spite of its additive package, or does the additive not impact the transmissions ability to perform its functions?



Always open to on-topic questions.

Just about any hydraulic fluid of the proper viscosity may function in an ATF and shift the gears but I cannot stress enough that the FM's play a major role in long term durability.


Originally Posted by JustN89
If the latter, could we assume that long term damage may be done due to the different formulas despite short term proper operation?


And that is my concern, in that because it is a hydraulic fluid, it may function in the short term as such, but in the long term damage may very well occur.





Last edited by MolaKule; 07/26/19 04:41 PM.

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Re: Three ATF's Analyzed [Re: MolaKule] #5170096 07/24/19 07:40 PM
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Awesome, thanks!

One more, and it's a bit of an unusual question so I'll try to make it as clear as I can. Say an aftermarket ATF has a similar formula, just a higher concentration of the same FMs. In your opinion, would this potentially be harmful, or actually make for a potentially more robust? For example, if the Idemitsu Type H formula matched the DW-1, but just had a higher concentration of Calcium and Magnesium (let's just say it had double the amount).

I hope this makes some sense. Thanks again!

Re: Three ATF's Analyzed [Re: MolaKule] #5170165 07/24/19 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by MolaKule
[quote=JustN89]This was very interesting- thanks MolaKule!


...

Just about any hydraulic fluid of the proper viscosity may function as an ATF and shift the gears but I cannot stress enough that the FM's play a major role in long term durability.


...

And that is my concern in that because it is a hydraulic fluid it may function in the short term as such, but in the long term damage may very well occur.






Very well said.

Would I be accurate in assuming that if I want to keep my cars for 200K+ (long term), it would be in my best interest to use the ATF the owner's manual recommends?

OR am I reaching too far?


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Re: Three ATF's Analyzed [Re: MolaKule] #5170205 07/24/19 09:36 PM
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Mola, thanks for bringing this up. Is it safe to assume these multi car formulas are basically dex III and dex VI clones and are reasonably safe in application requiring these fluids and the rest it may be best to look for OE spec fluid?
Do you know what compound it was in dex VI that cause seal compatibility issues in some Allison units and is that present specifically in Maxlife that claims dex III and dex VI specs?

Personally I don't buy their statement that because dex II shears it will eventually be the same as Maxlife and therefor at some point be in spec, IMO that doesn't sound quite right. WIll a dex III synthetic, Amsoil ATF, D4, Torque drive, Transynd, etc shear the same?


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Re: Three ATF's Analyzed [Re: JustN89] #5170227 07/24/19 10:48 PM
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Originally Posted by JustN89
Awesome, thanks!

One more, and it's a bit of an unusual question so I'll try to make it as clear as I can. Say an aftermarket ATF has a similar formula, just a higher concentration of the same FMs. In your opinion, would this potentially be harmful, or actually make for a potentially more robust? For example, if the Idemitsu Type H formula matched the DW-1, but just had a higher concentration of Calcium and Magnesium (let's just say it had double the amount).

I hope this makes some sense. Thanks again!


I would have to say no to your question and here is why:

Transmission fluids are one of the most complex chemical mixtures in an automotive drive train.

Not many people are aware, but the presence of calcium and dispersant compounds in Step-Shift transmission fluids have only a secondary task, and this is for minor cleaning and dispercency, respectively, since there are no combustion products present in an AT fluid.

The main purpose of Calcium and Magnesium and dispersant compounds in the original Honda Z-1 and DW-1 AT fluids is to function as one of the many friction modifiers. The other friction modifiers are never shown in low cost analyses but compliment the total friction modification chemistry.

Even the selection of base oils have to be considered as to the effect of overall friction modification. I.e, the base oils, plus any additives, plus the type of VII have to considered in the finished formulation.

Last edited by MolaKule; 01/27/20 08:01 PM. Reason: Added some text for clarification.

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Re: Three ATF's Analyzed [Re: MolaKule] #5170355 07/25/19 06:53 AM
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Too bad no Z-1 was available to analyze. DW-1 is supposed to be so much better than Z-1 yet maintains backward compatibility (?).

Re: Three ATF's Analyzed [Re: Trav] #5170566 07/25/19 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Trav
Mola, thanks for bringing this up. Is it safe to assume these multi car formulas are basically dex III and dex VI clones and are reasonably safe in application requiring these fluids and the rest it may be best to look for OE spec fluid?


I think the Multi-Vehicle ATF formulas are safe for most vehicles and as such are viable replacements for the Dexron series, NissaMatic S, and similar applications. Most Multi-vehicle formulations use the Lubrizol 9683 DI package which has a very stable anti-shudder chemistry.

My main concern at this time is this: The analyses show the Honda DW-1 fluid to very different with respect to those fluids used in fully automatic, Step-Shift transmissions and the DW-1 signature shows chemical components more suited for those Honda automated manual transmissions.

The label on the Idemitsu type H-Plus fluid says it it is engineered for Honda DW-1 and Z-1 type fluids, but does not have the same chemical signature as does DW-1 or Z-1 and is more in tune with Step-Shift transmission chemistry.

The label on the Valvoline MaxLife says it is “Suitable for Use in” Honda/Acura DW-1 and Z-1 fluids, but again, it's chemical signature does not jive with the Genuine Honda DW-1 fluid.

Can the Idemitsu and Valvoline fluids be used in automated manual transmissions specifically designed for DW-1 fluids? Maybe in the short term, but what about the long term effects?

In my view, there is huge disconnect somewhere along the line between Honda, Idemitsu and Valvoline.


Originally Posted by Trav
Do you know what compound it was in dex VI that cause seal compatibility issues in some Allison units and is that present specifically in Maxlife that claims dex III and dex VI specs?


Two separate questions here but I'll try to answer both.

1) Seal compatibility in Allisons. My recollection is that about the time Dexron VI was introduced two things occurred almost simultaneously:
A. Allison changed to a specific fluoroelastomer seal compound (See SAE 2008-00-1619) and,
B. the Dexron VI formula introduced introduced a small amount of Hatco diester to improve seal swell because the formula used base oils mainly from Group III and IV's, with Group III's predominant.

2) MaxLife has the Dex VI clone chemistry using use the high stability Lubrizol 9683 DI package.


Originally Posted by Trav
Personally I don't buy their statement that because dex II shears it will eventually be the same as Maxlife and therefor at some point be in spec, IMO that doesn't sound quite right. WIll a dex III synthetic, Amsoil ATF, D4, Torque drive, Transynd, etc shear the same?


I think I know what you're referring to. Dexron VI and Dexron VI clones have the upgraded and most shear stable and base oil chemistry over any previous Dexron ATF fluids.

Last edited by MolaKule; 07/25/19 04:06 PM.

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Re: Three ATF's Analyzed [Re: Gebo] #5170576 07/25/19 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Gebo


...Would I be accurate in assuming that if I want to keep my cars for 200K+ (long term), it would be in my best interest to use the ATF the owner's manual recommends?

OR am I reaching too far?


I think you're reaching too far. smile I find that most aftermarket clones meeting your OM specs have better anti-oxidation capabilities than do the OEM FF fluids.

Last edited by MolaKule; 07/25/19 11:58 AM.

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Re: Three ATF's Analyzed [Re: MolaKule] #5170584 07/25/19 12:06 PM
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Thanks Mola for the answers, they are amazing info.

What is the reason step shift auto have different requirement than automated manual like Honda? I would imagine the wet clutch frictions should be similar, the solenoids are also similar, but the gears alignment (2 axles vs co-axle planetary) are not. What is the reason for the different friction modification need?

How about dual-clutch fluid for wet clutch vs automated manual like Honda? Are their fluid formula similar or more different than vs Dexron?


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