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ATF type IV required by Toyota for newer (02 on) camrys sold only by Toyota

Its not synthetic, they say… yet it’s more than twice the price of Dex 3. I guess they are “taking a page from Honda’s idea”…force 'em back into the dealerSHIP.

You can often buy these kinds of things online for decent prices. And once you do the actual math, the total cost is often not as much as it seems - in comparison to a new transmission.

If you look at the overall cost of operating a vehicle, and let’s say you have the transmission fluid serviced every 3 years/30,000 miles, what’s that? An extra $30.00 over Dexron tranny fluid? Not much to get upset about.


Is this the same type of fluid as Chrysler ATF +4 ?

If you take these transmissions apart, they all look the same inside…But they all need their own special fluid?? Maybe we could get Bobistheoilguy to publish exactly WHY they are different…What is so different about them that the transmissions life depends on it…Some super-critical friction modifier, what?

I agree, when you think about it, the cost is really insignificant to the overall cost of operation. I changed fluid in our Acura and got the 4 quarts from the dealer. It cost about $7 a quart but still, a quart of oil for my lawn mower cost me $4. So an extra $30 every 30K miles is really not that bad. Especially now that I’m not driving a bazillion miles like before.

NO the ATF type IV is different than the Chrysler ATF +4; I happen to have one of each car. there are other ATF’s out there that are supposed to be compatible with the Toyota type IV, I don’t remember which brand and type, reason being they are as expensive if not more than the Type IV. Different dealers price the same ATF differently. Close to my work they charge $6.5, close to where I live it is $4.75 and they also mail me %10 off coupons. I don’t want to risk my transmission while saving $10. Esp since I do my own oil changes it costs me peanuts. Also the transmission has a drain plug (10mm hex) that makes the change a breeze.

This is nothing new…

Years ago you had Dexron or Type-F fluid. Now there are Honda specific, and some manufacturers like Toyota are now using the WS (World Standard) fluid. I found that Valvoline makes a WS fluid, but it’s the same price as the Toyota fluid. As Tester pointed out the overall cost is insignificant.

If there are 10 different types of ATF used in the U.S. vehicle fleet, you KNOW there are going to be mix-ups and screw-ups on the lube rack…Once that fluid goes into the transmission, it’s virtually impossible to tell what type it was…I can see it now…Color-coded transmission fluid…

“.I can see it now…Color-coded transmission fluid…”

And the fast lube places would still MESS it up.

Any more, the Dealers Lube Rack is not much different than Grease Monkeys…They have an advantage in that they only have to work on one make of car…Fast Lube Charlie must contend with DOZENS of different makes so the opportunity for error is endless…

The exact correct tranny fluid is very cheap. The tranny itself is very expensive.

Would you risk thousands to save $5? That’s a really poor bet. IMHO spending an extra $5 to eliminate the risk of losing thousands is by far the better bet.

Yes, I agree with all of you and I wouldn’t risk it. Just after I posted, I drove over to Toyota and bought 10 qts. I was a bit grumpy cause I JUST learned of the new “special” ATF @ triple the price (none too soon- as the pan was drained and ready for new Dextron III) …And I saw that getting the pan off was going to be a real pain - 4 small bolts very close to the frame . Will make another post ; I believe it’s protocol.

We had a quicklube chain where I live that just went out of business . I almost had my tranny fluid changed there . Luckily I asked what fluid they were going to use and was told they the used Dexron in everything " with a special additive pack to tailor it to each car. My guess is that they went out of business because they had to replace so many transmissions.

Castrol makes a compatible ATF, but it costs about as much as the stuff from the dealer. Its really only a PITA if you have to go very far out of your way to get to the dealership like I have to.

Dexron III is not used much anymore by anyone. Even GM does not recommend it for their older vehicles. I had a 92 van a while back and GM recommended that I use the new Dexron VI, and that stuff is expensive no matter where you buy it.

No one’s answered the question about WHY different transmissions for similar vehicles require different fluid. Anyone want to take a whack at it? I’m genuinely curious because on its face it makes no sense.

It mostly has to do with the friction modifiers used in the transmission fluid and the type of friction materials used on the clutches within the transmission. It may also include a higher concentration of detergents because transmissions today are electronically controlled. And it only takes a small amount of gum or varnish to cause an electronically controlled valve to stick.


I’m no expert, but I got into this question once for similar reasons - just trying to figure out what the deal is. Most of what I figured out is that you need to be an engineer to really get it (or spend a lot more time than I was willing to).

A lot of it does have to do with different friction properties. I’m pretty sure that’s the key thing that kills the Chrysler transmissions if you don’t use the ATF+4. The fluid has lots of things to do - it has to lubricate, but it has to lubricate in exactly the right way. But it also has to be a hydraulic fluid.

A lot of the specs look like the following that I just haphazardly pulled up from AMSOIL:

AMSOIL Synthetic Multi-Vehicle Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF)
Kinematic Viscosity @ 100°C, cSt (ASTM D-445) 7.6
Kinematic Viscosity @ 40°C, cSt (ASTM D-445) 38.9
Viscosity Index (ASTM D-2270) 168
Flash Point °C (°F) (ASTM D-92) 234 (453)
Pour Point °C (°F) (ASTM D-97) -53 (-63)
FZG Load Stage Pass (ASTM D-5182) 12
Four Ball Wear Test, Scar in mm; 40 kg, 75°C, 1200 rpm, 1 hr (ASTM D-4172B) 0.41
Brookfield Viscosity @ -40°C, cP (ASTM D-2983) 9800

Every brand/type has a similar list & all of these things vary. Each “official” manufacturer’s spec sets out what properties the fluid needs to have according to specs like this. Presumably, when all of the rest of the stuff in the transmission is designed/selected for use it is done to work with these properties. If you put fluid in outside of specs then things don’t work right.

I doubt that helps anyone much b/c it mostly says “I don’t really know”

I am practical guy. I know when they (previous owner) put Dexron in my Galant’s transmission I was having a lot of flare. Two shops told me I need a rebuild. I drained and refilled with the recommended SPII ATF all problems went away for another 50K miles and maybe more since I sold the car. This was a lesson learned for me, even though engines tolerate a lot of variance in the oil properties, transmissions don’t.

I have a 2005 camry. I used to use toyota T-IV but changed to castrol multi-vehicle fluid. Same for honda accord. Now I use walmart’s multi-vehicle ATF (cost is 75 cents/quart cheaper) and I haven’t had any issues. Of course, I change the trans fluid at 7-9K max so I look for the cheaper fluid. I haven’t used T-IV or ATF-Z1 honda for years. If I could get washers for the oil and trans plugs, I wouldn’t go back at all. Don’t worry, these fluids are just fine.