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Price? Convenience? Why?

I see lots of discussion here about proper fluids and oils, and just wanted to offer my outlook. Granted, I come at this from the technician/shop side and not the DIY or consumer side, but here’s my point of view and a question:

If you came into the shop and saw me adding washer fluid to your transmission, you’d stop me. Why? Because it’s the wrong stuff! If I was adding brake fluid to the radiator you’d stop me, because it’s the wrong stuff. Yet time after time I see people recommending universal coolants or multi-vehicle transmission fluid or using one kind of motor oil in all three of their cars. I don’t get it. Here’s what we do at my shop:

If your owner’s manual, service information, and transmission dipstick all say your transmission uses Toyota Type T-IV, guess what? You’re car is getting actual T-IV, not a fluid that claims it meets T-IV requirements in addition to a number of other vehicles. If your engine requires dexos motor oil, that’s what your getting, not some house brand that claims it’s as good. If your cooling system requires Dexcool, you’re getting that, not green coolant or some universal blend. If the oil filler cap says 5W20, that’s what we’re putting in, not 5W30 because we think it’s ok in our climate. You get my point.

So my question is “why would you not use the correct and proper fluids and lubricants in your car?” Is there some perceived value in cost or convenience?

The difference in price between T-IV transmission fluid and plain old Dexron amounts to about $24 for a transmission service. The difference for a gallon of Dexcool over green coolant is $4/gallon. An oil change using dexos is $10 more than conventional oil.

Is saving $24 on a transmission service by using a questionable fluid really worth considering? Does anyone really insist on saving $4 on a gallon of coolant during a $400 radiator replacement?

customer gripe ; "I can’t afford to"
Our answer ; “You can’t afford NOT to.”

There are tranny fluids that meet the Toyota WS. HOWEVER…the cost is the same…so why bother. I do know that if you go to the Toyota dealer and buy a quart of Toyota oil it’ll cost you $6. It’s just regular dyno oil by Quakerstate. I wouldn’t buy that oil. Any SAE oil of the recommended weight will be fine.

The products sold at dealerships are not sacred, mysterious elixirs containing potions from priests in far away monasteries but the dealerships hope to convince their customers to believe that is so. The recommended oil weight is based on the climate where most cars are sold, size and weather do matter. Lexus in Dubai seems to prefer 5W40… http://www.datadubai.com/directory/lexus_motor_oil_5w40.html

And while there are some significant differences in ATFs with regard to CVTs, friction materials and internal sealing there is no need for contacting Merlin or Harry Potter for the answers. We would be well served if the government forced all automotive products to be standardized and labelled plainly. DOT-3 is just so simple and easy.

I had the ATF in my Honda Accord V6 changed at Jiffy Lube. But first, I asked what they recommended. The owner produced a bottle of ATF-Z1 fluid and said he wouldn’t use anything else. It was a loaded question, and he passed the test. Even some quick lube places know what’s best for your car. As I said before, you can find good and bad shops in any broad category: good and bad dealers, good and bad quick lubes, good and bad independent shops. Once I find a good one, I stick with it until they show they aren’t good anymore.

You can’t criticize the people. The purveyors of these products are in many cases advertising them as being good for universal applications. And in some cases (Dexcool) manufacturers are using junk fluids that won’t mix successfully with other stuff common to the application that’s been on the market for years.

And, of course, there’s Jiffy Lube…

@asemaster I was very glad to get rid of Dexcool in favor of Peak Global. You would prefer I stick with Dexcool? My rationale was I was guarenteed not to have a dexcool sludgeing problem.

“And, of course, there’s Jiffy Lube…”

The one I go to is good. Remember?

“The owner produced a bottle of ATF-Z1 fluid and said he wouldn’t use anything else. It was a loaded question, and he passed the test.”

JT–With all due respect…just because he showed you a bottle of the correct stuff, how do you know that they actually used ATF-Z1 in your transmission, rather than a “universal” fluid that they buy in bulk? Bait & switch is a highly-developed art, and unless you stood next to your car while it was being serviced, you should consider the possibility that you did not actually get “the correct stuff”.

Hopefully they did use the real thing in your trans, but other possibilities do exist.

While working for one Subaru dealer many years ago the service manager (wife of the owners and also parts manager) started asking the mechanics to save the Subaru air filter boxes instead of throwing them in the trash. Being busy, we did not think much of the request at the time and assumed there may be some kind of inventory problem with SOA and maybe they needed them as backup on the paper work or something.

Come to find out that the service/parts manager had ordered some aftermarket Taiwan air filters at about 25% of the cost of the Subaru OEM filters and was putting those filters in genuine Subaru boxes. These in turn were sold across the counter with people assuming they were getting the real deal instead of a bootleg product.
Ah, ethics. :frowning:

@MikeInNH, that’s my point. You can use the “correct” fluid or some aftermarket that may meet spec, but you’re only saving pennies. I don’t understand the mindset that thinks it’s a good idea to save $20 on a transmission service by using substandard parts.

@Barkydog, no, if you feel you’re gaining some kind of mechanical benefit by switching to a different coolant, by all means do so. But when a customer is looking at an estimate for a water pump and complains that I’m using an “overpriced” OE spec coolant for $20/gallon and should use plain green for $11.99/gallon I take exception.

@ok4450, I hired a guy a while back that was a tech at a multi-line dealer. I ased him how the lube rack kept up with the 6 different kinds of oil that they had to stock for all their makes. He said they had barrels of Chevron 10w30 that went into everything. Brand new G6, 10w30. Cadillac CTS specifies Mobil1, 10w30. Toyota Camry specifies 5W20, 10w30. GMC Duramax, 10w30.

One day an older fellow comes in with his 74 Bonneville. Been using Pennzoil 10w40 since the day it was new. “Yes sir, we’ll send someone over to NAPA and get your Pennzoil for you.” After the oil change the old man asked to see the empty bottles. The lube guy tells him “Umm, they’re in the garbage already.” Then he asks for the service writer who has the b_lls to look at him and say “wouldn’t you know it, the garbage truck just emptied the dumpster 5 minutes ago.” Finally the service manager came out and refunded his money.

That dealer abruptly went out of business shortly after.

@asemaster- so when you’re sick and go get your prescription medication, do you insist on the original manufacturer or do you buy generic? I’m going to assume you value your body more than your car so what’s a few extra bucks? ;-D

Just using it as an example, most people choose generic because it’s less expensive and is basically the same formulation (meets the standard). Should be no surprise that the same reasoning is good enough for their cars.

@TwinTurbo; believe it or not, that is not fair comparison. The pharmaceutical industry is obligated to release the patent after certain number of years. Most of the time the “generic” drug is made by the same one that makes the patented one.

The better example would be ATF4 from Mopar vs Pennzoil or Supertech(Walmart). If it meets ATF4 specs, we are all happy with it. What we have issue with is using Mercon instead of ATF4.

I have been to many shops with cars that call for special fluids, mostly ATF (Dodge, Mitsu, Newer Toyota). I have not found one that would use the specified fluid. They all stock one barrel of ATF and dump it in anything. Call me paranoid, but that is why I do most of my own work.

@TwinTurbo, it depends. For my viagra I insist on the original. For my pnemonia medication any old thing will do.

But seriously, what I have issue with is seeing a gallon of coolant that claims to be “global, universal, mix with any color or brand” and having people who think they know a thing or two about cars buy into that. And then think that by saving $5 on a jug of antifreeze they’re somehow getting ahead of the game. If the Honda wants 5W20, use it. If the Ford wants Motorcraft Gold coolant, use it. If the Chrysler wants ATF+4, use it. I can’t think of a good reason to do otherwise.

I went to my Nissan dealer to get some Nissan power steering fluid. They did not have any; when asked what they used I was told transmission fluid, Dexron II or III. I bough some at an automotive store and now have enough for the next 10 years.

Instead of the name, go by the specification. As mentioned, Honda transmission fluid is DIFFERENT and you should always use that.

“The pharmaceutical industry is obligated to release the patent after certain number of years. Most of the time the “generic” drug is made by the same one that makes the patented one.”

All patent owners are required to release them when they expire unless the old patents are surrounded by newer ones that protect the old one.

I think it is a fair analogy. Any drug manufacturer can make a generic drug. While pharmaceutical companies often do have generic production divisions, others may choose to manufacture them if the drugs are widely used. Merck still sells Zocor at generic prices, and there are 14 other manufacturers with pills identified on drugs.com.

I agree that drugs with an extremely narrow market are often manufactured only by the original patent holder after the patent expires. But often, even the original manufacturer won’t make them. Pediatric cancer drugs have this problem.

Nissan does not sell a specific power steering fluid, they use Dexron III. I always use the specified manufacturers fluid in my automatic transmission. But when it comes to coolant, the universal coolants are superior to all the rest and that is what I use.

Don’t get me started on cancer drugs. Nothing ***** me off more than hearing a drug manufacturer justifying their outlandish prices by claiming that they invested $40 mil to develop a drug for a cancer when I know it was developed in a university lab that was supported by the millions of dollars donated by 5k runners and supporters through various pink ribboned and other agencies and by tax dollars. Now they don’t want to produce the drug in adequate quantities or release the patent which I don’t think they are entitled to anyway.