Going for OEM products or alternatives? This question happens to many car owners when they come to do car maintenance. Replacing transmission fluid is one of those.
If you own a Honda Acura or CRV or any other Honda car, the odd is that your vehicle needs the automatic transmission fluid Honda ATF DW1. However, many people still look for equivalent options for this OEM product. What happens if you don’t use Honda’s ATF DW1 on your Honda?
Here I will run you through the reasons why they need alternatives and some analyzes whether these options fit your Honda or not.
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Honda atf z1 vs dw1: Clear interpretation
As a member of some Automotive forums, I know that many people are confused about Honda ATF Z1 and DW-1. Just let you know that they are the same. Honda ATF DW-1 is the replacement for their Z1 product.
From the mid-’90s, Honda’s most prevalent transmission fluid was the ATF Z1. The ATF Z1 had decent features but was later discontinued because it exposed users to carcinogens and reproductive toxicants. It was created based on the Dexron II and is pretty much used in Hondas released before 2011.
After that instance, Honda manufactured another ATF oil, the ATF DW-1, to replace the old Z1. This newer fluid was safe from its predecessor’s harmful substances, and it significantly improved on low-temperature performance. You shouldn’t use any other fluid in 2011 models, including those that come after that year.
Let’s now look into the Honda ATF DW-1 and what makes the fluid pricey.
What makes Honda atf Dw1 pricey?
Many think that this OEM product is quite pricey. But does the high price always go with high quality and effectiveness? Let’s go through some features and benefits of this DW-1 OEM fluid to see if it is really worth that rate.
- Formulated specifically for newer Honda vehicle models
- Help maintains optimum shift quality over time.
- Protect transmission seals and related components from excessive wear.
- Lowers the oxidation rate for long-term stability.
- Improve fuel economy by low viscosity
- Perform consistently in extremely high or low temperatures.
In my experience, the big downside about this atf dw1 is its price only. And this might be a challenge, especially when you have to use it frequently and in large amounts.
If you want to stick with the original Honda DW-1, you can shop around, then do the maintenance yourself and try to find the cheapest deal. But if you don’t want to use Honda’s product, here are some alternatives you can consider.
Read more: Honda Gn4 Oil Equivalent
Honda ATF DW-1 equivalent
Note that: Before diving into the alternatives for your ATF DW-1 fluid used in Honda vehicles, please note that if your Honda is still under warranty, you should only use OEM fluid. Otherwise, the dealership might void the warranty.
Here are some transmission fluids that get pretty darn close to Honda’s DW-1 if you like to go to the competition and try alternatives.
Idemitsu ATF Type-H Plus
Idemitsu is the OEM supplier for Honda DW-1. This brand claims to offer a product that you may class as Honda’s DW-1 but in a different bottle and with a different label.
And because Idemitsu is making Honda’s “real Mccoy” stuff, then you can’t go wrong with grabbing a bottle of Idemitsu ATF Type-H Plus. It has the following benefits:
- Superior low-temp flow properties.
- Has precisely engineered frictional characteristics with an outstanding anti-shudder performance.
- Gives excellent resistance to thermal breakdown and oxidation, hence ensuring a long service life.
- The fluid is clean and leaves the transmission veins free from varnish deposits or sludge.
- Meets specific requirements of all Acura and Honda vehicles equipped with 5 and 6-speed transmissions
- Idemitsu is a licensed dealer in Honda ATF products.
- Your seals are well cared for so that there is no leakage or issues with cracking.
In the comparison of the above with the pluses of Honda’s ATF DW1, you will find that both reduce your gas bill, both protect the fluid against the evil oxidation process, and your parts are blessed with extended life.
So, what are the negatives of using Idemitsu’s ATF Type-H Plus? The lifespan of the Idemitsu ATF is a little bit shorter than that of the ATF DW-1, and the price difference it brings might not make up for the same, in most cases.
There is a question of whether the quality is the same as Honda’s OEM. Some people state that Honda’s DW-1 contains substances that can’t be easily replicated in other brands (it’s a bit like the Colonel’s secret recipe at KFC). I think this is not a big problem. Idemitsu can not make this product 100% the same as Honda while the price is much lower.
Valvoline Maxlife Multi-vehicle ATF
This is a synthetic formulated transmission fluid that has undergone extensive testing to ensure that it is compatible with a wide range of vehicles. When looking at Valvoline’s product information sheet, this lubricant is shown to be compatible with Honda’s DW1.
Valvoline claims that Maxlife provides these benefits:
- Helps reduce varnish and transmission wear.
- Superior anti-shudder performance.
- Provides greater film protection and excellent flow properties at high and low temperatures, respectively.
- Much cheaper than Honda OEM
- Contains cleaning additives
- Prevent leaks in transmission seals
Again comparing these with the advantages of Honda’s and Idemitsu’s offerings, I can see a similarity through enhanced smooth-shifting, great flow when temperatures get cooler, and protection against wear and tear.
So, should you rush out and grab a bottle of Valvoline MaxLife? Well, here is something that you should concern about when using it as Honda DW-1 substitute. Most multi-vehicle ATFs can’t meet specific OEM requirements as they are manufactured to perform on a range of vehicles with different OEM needs.
There have been a couple of labs that compared the products and found that MaxLife lacked some key ingredients that were found in DW-1. This makes the product come with several risks, like the loss of warranty coverage and uncertainty of compatibility, which sometimes may or may not be worth taking.
LubeGard Red or platinum
What pluses does using Lubeguard’s products have? Well, it’s pretty much the same as the others I have listed. You will get:
- Better anti-shudder performance.
- Less noise from the transmission
- The fluid is protected against oxidation.
- Your transmission’s components suffer less wear and tear.
One point of difference is that LubeGard doesn’t use additives that are sourced from sperm whales. The company produced its own substitute product, which when compared with those using sperm whale additives.
LubeGard isn’t completely bulletproof, though. There have been some issues with a harsh shifting of gears and O-rings developing leaks. Yet, in saying that, LubeGard does have its fans across the online forums.
Well, even with the plenty of advantages surrounding the LubeGard ATF, the harsh shift or O-rings developing leaks are some bad news for some Honda Accord owners. If you own an Accord, please keep in mind this point.
Those are some of the best alternatives to the DW-1 that I could find. They all come at a lower price than Honda OEM ATF. I would recommend any of them, but the Idemitsu ATF type-H Plus would be my best pick (check out its pros). Moreover, the fact that Idemitsu is a certified OEM Honda ATF supplier makes it a trustworthy choice.
However, each piece comes with its pros and cons, and you have to be wise to decide what is best for your specific Honda model. However, always remember that DO NOT mix any different transmission fluids. If you want to change the atf brand, please do the drain and fill. In some cases, you need to flush your transmission.