Honda manual transmission fluid

Genuine Honda manual transmission fluid is formulated exactly for all manual transmission Honda models.

Advanced wear protection to reduce wear and increase wear life.

Optimal shift quality.

Reduced friction helps keep the transmission free of sludge.

If Honda MTF is not available, you can use API certified SAE 0W-20 or 5W-20 viscosity motor oil as a temporary measure. Replace with MTF as soon as possible. Motor oil does not contain proper transmission additives and continued use can cause decreased shifting performance and transmission damage.


Transmissions are an integral part of any automobile, manual or automatic. Without the proper fluids your transmission will fail, and without a working transmission your car is basically a huge paperweight! At Zumbrota Bearing and Gear, we offer a complete line of new, used, and remanufactured bearings and gears.transmissions in Zumbrota, MN.

We rebuild and sell transmissions, and we know firsthand how improper maintenance can destroy a good system. When shopping for a car, keep in mind the correct fluids it requires, whether you have a manual or automatic.

While some manual transmissions now use automatic transmission fluid (ATF), most manuals use a variety of fluids for optimal engine and gear function. Gear oil is not the same as ATF, and knowing the differences can make or break your car.

ATF Basics:

  • ATF is a complex fluid filled with lubricants and detergents that keep the transmission running smoothly with minimal wear. ATF also works as a hydraulic fluid for power steering systems and some 4WD cases in automatic cars.
  • Along with lubricant and detergent, ATF also contains a combination of additives including anti-wear additives, rust and corrosion blocking additives, dispersants and surfactants that protect and clean metal parts in a transmission, viscosity index improvers and kinematic viscosity, seal expansion additives that increase rotational speed and temperature range, defoaming additives, antioxidant compounds, cold flow improvers, high temperature thickeners, gasket conditioners, pour point depressants, and some form of petroleum dye.
  • To distinguish ATF from gear oil in a pinch, remember that ATF is a much thinner fluid and is usually red or green in color.

Gear Oil Basics:

  • Gear oil works to lubricate and prevent corrosion in a manual transmission.
  • Because manual transmissions experience high friction during gear changes and when the clutch is depressed and released, gear oil has sulfur-containing anti-wear compound additives. This gives gear oil a strong, distinctive odor.
  • Gear oil is also thicker than ATF because it is primarily used to lubricate gearboxes, transfer cases, and differentials.

Incorrect use of ATF in a manual transmission or gear oil in an automatic transmission can severely increase wear. ATF doesn’t have the thick lubricating qualities needed in a manual gearbox, and gear oil doesn’t contain all the additives needed to run an automatic transmission smoothly.


In 2006, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) offered buyers a choice between automatic and manual transmissions on 47 percent of new cars. Fast forward to 2018, when only 2 percent of vehicles sold had a manual transmission, according to

Even with manual transmissions on the endangered species list, questions about automatic versus manual transmission fluid still arise. Whether you opt for a lever or slush box, you’ll want to use the correct transmission fluid to maximize its performance and life.

1. Act as hydraulic fluid

Automatic transmissions use pressurized fluid to change gear. Automatic transmission fluid is hydraulic fluid.

When your vehicle’s computer decides it’s time to shift, it sends an electrical signal to the appropriate transmission solenoid. The solenoid directs fluid through a complex series of passages in the valve body to engage the correct gear. The fluid squeezes a series of plates within a clutch pack to connect the engine to the transmission output shaft and direct power to the wheels.

In a properly working transmission, all of this happens instantly and goes unnoticed.

However, fluid that is too thick (its viscosity is too high) may not flow quickly for clean, safe shifts. That is one of the reasons automatic transmission fluid has a lower viscosity than manual transmission fluid.

Fluid that has foamed up can also fail to function as a hydraulic fluid. Foam bubbles collapse under pressure, causing long or inconsistent shifting (not to mention gear wear). For that reason, automatic transmission fluid must contain foam inhibitors.

2. Deliver the correct friction requirements

As stated, pressurized automatic transmission fluid squeezes the clutch packs to engage the correct gears. These clutch packs are made up of bare metal plates and plates coated with friction material. Coupling and uncoupling must happen smoothly to give the driver the best driving experience.

The frictional properties of the fluid determine whether this complicated choreography of moving metal and fluid creates harsh shifts or causes you to schedule a time to change your transmission fluid.

As such, automatic transmission fluid is formulated to provide precise friction properties not required from manual transmission fluid.

3. Protects gears from wear.

Automatic transmissions contain a variety of sun, planetary, and ring gears that require lubrication to protect against wear. The fluid should form a durable fluid film on metal surfaces to prevent metal-to-metal contact and wear.

4. Beat the heat

Heat is the number one enemy of automatic transmission fluid. Chemically breaks down the fluid (known as oxidation). Decomposed fluid creates sludge and varnish, which can clog narrow oil passages and contribute to clutch crystal formation. Soon, your vehicle may begin to shift roughly, shake, or hesitate.

Automatic transmissions typically run hotter than manuals, which means the fluid must provide greater protection against heat. That’s one of the reasons some vehicles have automatic transmission fluid coolers.

Three Responsibilities of a Good Manual Transmission Fluid

Just because they’re less complex doesn’t mean manual transmission lubrication requirements are simple. A good manual transmission fluid should serve several functions, including…

1. Allow for smooth changes

Nothing connects vehicle and driver like a smooth-shifting manual gearbox. Enthusiasts won’t tolerate a transmission fluid that interferes with that link.

Here, we have a cross between automatic and manual transmission fluid. But they allow fluid changes differently based on different component architecture.

Most manual transmissions are equipped with synchronizers. As the name suggests, the synchronizer matches its speed to that of the engaged gear, allowing smooth shifting. Without it, gears rotating at different speeds would collide when trying to engage.

The synchronizer unit is made up of two main components: the sleeve and the lock or synchronizer ring. When the driver selects, for example, first gear, the sleeve moves to first gear and locks into gear engagement teeth, also known as dogs. When you depress the clutch pedal and select second gear, the sleeve moves to the other side and selects second gear in the same way.

Before the sleeve can be locked into the gear, the rotational speed of each must first be synchronized. Friction between the lock ring and a cone on the face of the gear equalizes their speed, allowing the gears to mesh without bumping. The entire process happens quickly and goes unnoticed in properly working transmissions.

The viscosity of the lubricant plays a vital role in the feel of the shift.

Too high a viscosity could prevent shifting until the transmission warms up or cause abnormally high temperatures during operation. Too low a viscosity could cause the synchronizer and sprocket gear to engage too quickly, resulting in grinding or harsh shifting and abnormal transmission wear.

2. Anti-wear

Again, manual transmission fluid should protect against wear, just like an automatic transmission fluid. Manual transmission fluid, as noted above, tends to have a higher viscosity than automatic transmission fluid. This helps the liquid develop a thick, durable protective film.

3. Protects brass synchronizers.

Synchronizers are usually made of brass, which is softer than other metals. Certain lubricant additives are not compatible with brass and can damage synchronizers.

Properly formulated manual transmission fluid for your vehicle will protect the synchronizers to ensure they last as designed and promote smooth shifting.

As you may have noticed, automatic transmission fluid can, in some cases, work just fine in manual transmissions. Which raises another question.

What does a broadcast do?

To get into what transmission fluid is and why it’s important, we first need to go over what exactly a transmission does. Simply put, a transmission is responsible for delivering power from your engine to your wheels, while also regulating that power, so your wheels can operate at different speeds. These speeds are known as “gears”.

There are two common types of transmissions found in cars today, automatic and manual:

  • Manual-Less common, usually found on older vehicles. It usually requires the use of a clutch pedal to change gear with the stick shifter.
  • Automatic-Standard on most new vehicles. Gear changing happens automatically within the transmission as you speed up or slow down.

What is transmission fluid?

Regardless of which transmission is used, both types require transmission fluid to function properly. Transmission fluid helps make the act of changing gears less strenuous on your vehicle by lubricating the bearings and moving metal parts within the transmission. It also helps with other functions, such as:

  • Torque Converter Operation
  • Valve Body Operation
  • Clutch Friction Operation
  • brake band friction
  • transmission cooling

Like transmissions, transmission fluid also comes in two styles, automatic and manual:

  • Automatic-It is used in most cars regardless of transmission type; usually a thin, clear liquid with a red hue, although it can also be other colors depending on the manufacturer.
  • Manual-Heavier and darker than auto fluid; typically used on older manual models

Maintenance of your transmission fluid

Transmission fluid is an important component in keeping your transmission and vehicle running at its best. For this reason, it is recommended that you flush and replace the transmission fluid regularly.

This is usually done every 30,000-60,000 miles, although factors like make, model, driving style, and weather can affect this. In the meantime, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the tell-tale signs that you may be low on transmission fluid.

1. Noises

If your transmission is working properly you shouldn’t hear any noise while driving as it should be shifting smoothly. Unusual sounds not only differ between makes and models, but also depend on the type of transmission.Manual transmissions often make a loud thumping or screeching noise when you shift gears, while an automatic sounds like it’s whining or humming.

Noises can indicate that the fluid level is getting low, but you most likely won’t be able to diagnose the problem yourself. It is recommended that a certified technician check the problem immediately to avoid labor-intensive repairs.

2. Smell of burning

Any bad smell coming from your car should be directed to your nearest service center.There are several reasons why a burning smell can start to come from your car and one of them is the appearance of overheated transmission fluid. This sign may be an indication of a low fluid level.

When a transmission is too hot, increased friction occurs between components, which inevitably causes dirt to build up and corrode the transmission. If left in this condition, the transmission will eventually be damaged enough to stop working.

3. Transmission Leaks

As mentioned, the fluid inside your car’s transmission case is its only source of lubrication and also acts as a cleaning and conditioning agent for the surrounding transmission seals.Leaks are a common cause of transmission problems, so if you notice red fluid under your vehicle, you’re almost certainly losing transmission fluid.

We suggest that you contact your authorized dealer to have the transmission inspected. The repair could be an easy swap out of a bad gasket or hose. However, without service, a transmission that is leaking fluid will only continue to get worse as the fluid level drops.

4. Sliding gears

A healthy transmission will shift gears smoothly and there won’t be any slippage.Low fluid levels can cause gears to slip, resulting in a grinding sensation. The occasional slippage in a gear may seem like a minor problem at first, but it’s always a good idea to have the transmission checked when it occurs to avoid costly repairs down the road.

5. Slow gear

Along with gear slippage,Low transmission fluid levels can also cause low pressure levels, leading to slower engagement when changing gears. If you notice that it takes a second for your transmission to engage when shifting into gear or in reverse, it could be due to low fluid levels.

6. The vehicle accelerates poorly

If your vehicle is slow to get up or is unresponsive when accelerating from a stop,It could be caused by a problem in your transmission. If you notice this happening, you should have your vehicle inspected and repaired at the nearest service center.

7. Check that the engine or transmission warning light is on

When a check engine light appears on your dash, you should always head to the nearest service center to have it investigated. There are a number of possible reasons why this light may appear,one of them is a problem with your transmission.

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