How do transmission fluids vary?

I have come to find out that my little ole Kia requires ‘special’ transmission fluid that can only be purchased at the dealership for $8 a quart. So my question is why don’t auto shops carry what I need and why is there such a huge difference in types of transmission fluid?

There’s a difference in materials within the design of the transmissions that need certain formulations to properly operate. Many car makers are trying different designs for the new transmissions, including the CVT transmissions that don’t use conventional gear ratios. Many of these designs require a new formulation of transmission fluid to work correctly. Honda has long had a transmission design that requires a fluid formulation no one else uses. It doesn’t surprise me to find out Kia also has a special formulation.

Well atleast I now know why having the transmission fluid changed/flushed is so expensive and can only be done by the dealership. I mean you are looking at almost $75 just for the fluid to do a complete flush…

You could purchase the fluid yourself as carryout and have an indy shop do the deed. I’m not sure how much you might save that way but shop it around and see what they say.

Transmission fluid is as different as recipies for spaghetti sauce. Even here at the Ford dealer I have six different part numbers of automatic transmission fluid.

The worst part of all that is the underlying secret that some of them really are compatable, but if they told us they’d have to kill us.

No real cost savings, the dealership will do the work for $100, my local shop wants $80, so migh as well stay with the dealership so if something goes wrong I have someone big to go after.

No Indy, we are NOT starting another 100 post thread. Googling this will give you your answer…


Yep, i’m changing the trans. fluid in my Kia Rondo & my friendly neighborhood Kia dealer nailed me 40 bucks for the 5 quarts.

On the plus side theres no pan to drop or filter to change. So 40 bucks for a fluid change is not so bad.

Have you settled on a year for having the fluid changed? Maybe 2011 or 2012?

I take my Toyota and wifes Lexus to a local transmission guy. Both these vehicles require special Toyota fluid. So the transmission guy buys the Toyota fluid. Dealer want’s $250 to drop the pan and change the filter and fluid…my local guy charges $110.

doing the basic fluid exchange next month, now that I see what the fluid costs per quart no real reason to go anywhere but the dealship.

The problem is there may be compatible fluids ( probably ATF+4 or +5 ) but you have no way of telling.

In my opinion it’s all about market share. In other words, if the car owner can be manipulated into thinking that the stuff his dealership has is the only qualified product, the dealership’s service department continues to be the only source for making the badly needed profit for the dealership. I use “Synthetic Multi-vehicle ATF” by taking it to my dealership and telling I’m supplying my own. If he adds an additive to it, there will be hell to pay.

I have been to numerous auto parts places and searched the web and it appears that Kia, especially the early models only has 1 type of fluid which only the dealership carries. Since having the right fluid is critical, I really only have one choice.