One of the reasons why Honda has dominated the import car market in the United States (and globally, for that matter), is because of the vehicle’s legendary durability, reliability, and longevity. Owning a Honda sedan or SUV that surpasses 250,000 miles is common, which has led to Hondas being one of the top-selling auto brands of all time.
The reason for Honda’s reliability stems from the way that the automaker manufactures all of its engines and transmissions. Simply put, they’re designed to be absolutely foolproof. As long as you keep up with routine maintenance, your Honda will serve you well far into the future.
When most people think about maintenance, the first thing that comes to mind is keeping up with regular oil changes. While this is certainly important, many car owners neglect to check or change the second-most-important fluid in the car- the transmission fluid.
In today’s article, we’re going to show you the best transmission fluid brands that you can put in your Honda automobile. Afterward, we’ll do our best to answer some of the most common questions on the topic, and give you a helpful overview that will help you figure out which transmission fluid is best for your Honda.
List of The Best Transmission Fluid For Honda
Unlike the motor oil in your Honda (which is just responsible for lubricating, protecting, and cleaning vital engine parts), the transmission fluid plays an important role in how your vehicle changes gears. Of course, one of its jobs is to keep your complex transmission lubricated. However, its secondary job is to assist in the gear shifting process.
As your engine computer tells the transmission to change gears, it sends an electrical signal to small solenoids, which direct the hydraulic transmission fluid into tight pathways, which lead to the clutch packs. The fluid applies or releases pressure on the clutch packs, which allow the gears to change. This whole process happens in a fraction of a second, and as long as your fluid is in good condition, then it will occur smoothly without any jolts or jerks.
We could write an entire article on how automatic transmissions work, but that’s a story for another day. For now, just remember that your transmission fluid is very important, and you should definitely keep up with Honda’s recommended fluid change intervals (discussed below in the buyer’s guide section).
Next, we’re going to show you our top picks for the best transmission fluid for Honda automobiles. Let’s take a look!
Genuine Honda Fluid 08200-9008 ATF-DW1 Automatic Transmission Fluid
Honda produces its own specially formulated automatic transmission fluid (ATF) designed to help your Honda transmission last as long as possible. In most cases, this is the best oil that you can use for your Honda, and you can use it with complete assurance that it won’t damage your transmission or void your manufacturer’s warranty. It reduces interior oxidation, keeps your seals strong, and facilitates smooth gear shifting.
- Designed specifically for Honda automatic transmissions.
- High-quality synthetic transmission fluid prevents oxidation and protects your seals.
- Allows you to go longer intervals between fluid changes.
- Not designed for manual transmissions.
Idemitsu 30040090-95300C020 ATF Type H-Plus Automatic Transmission Fluid
Idemitsu is one of the leading brands of transmission fluid used for Asian imports and is a common substitute for Honda brand ATF fluid. Although the label describes the fluid as H-plus, this is just the Idemitsu specification. This ATF fluid works in accordance with all Honda transmissions specced for Z-1 and DW-1 specifications.
- Good performance in cold and hot weather.
- Designed for Honda DW-1 and Z-1 specifications.
- Extends transmission life.
- Isn’t the Honda-branded OEM transmission fluid.
- Not designed for manual transmissions.
Mobil 1 112980 Synthetic Automatic Transmission Fluid
Mobil 1 is widely regarded as one of the top manufacturers of synthetic lubricants on the market. Their synthetic ATF fluid is specced to be used in modern and older Hondas that require Z-1 and DW-1 transmission fluid. What makes Mobil 1’s synthetic ATF fluid such a great choice is that it’s designed to work incredibly well in extremely cold temperatures, functioning well in climates as cold as -54 degrees Fahrenheit! In fact, many Honda owners who live in these frigid regions prefer to use Mobil 1 over the OEM Honda ATF fluid.
- Synthetic ATF fluid provides long-lasting protection from wear and tear.
- Designed to work great in extremely cold temperatures.
- Allows your Honda to go longer between transmission fluid changes.
- Operates under modern DW-1 Honda transmission fluid specs.
- May not perform as well in extremely hot temperatures.
- Not the OEM Honda transmission fluid.
Buyer’s Guide and F.A.Q.
Now that you’ve had a chance to see the best transmission fluids on the market, it’s time to answer some of the more pressing questions and concerns that you may have. This should give you the peace of mind that you need to be 100% confident in your decision!
How Often Does Honda Recommend a Transmission Fluid Change?
Honda officially recommends changing your vehicle’s transmission fluid every 90,000 miles. The only exception to this rule is if you’re pushing your car under more “extreme” circumstances.
If you’re using your Honda for heavy-duty towing or you like to push it on the racetrack, then you should change your transmission fluid every 30,000 miles. However, if you’re like 95% of drivers who just use their Honda for everyday errands and transportation, then 90,000-mile intervals should be just fine.
What About Transmission Flushes?
When you change your transmission fluid, you’ll drain the majority of the fluid out and replace it with fresh fluid. A flush, on the other hand, involves completely flushing out the old fluid and often using a solvent to completely rid the transmission of old fluid.
However, Honda actually recommends against performing full flushes. This is because the solvents used during a transmission flush can actually harm your transmission and reduce its life. For this reason, we recommend following Honda’s advice and just performing standard transmission fluid changes.
Do I Have To Use Honda Brand Transmission Fluid?
Honda makes their own custom-formulated transmission fluid that’s designed to be used in their high-tech automatic transmission units. Nine times out of ten, your best bet is to just stick with the Honda brand fluid. It makes shopping easier and gives you peace of mind, since you know the fluid you’re using was made specifically for your transmission.
Can You Use Non-Honda Transmission Fluid?
That being said, you don’t have to use the Honda brand transmission fluid. Admittedly, this can sometimes be hard to find. If you’re in a bind, you can use any automatic transmission fluid that meets modern-day DW-1 specifications.
What Happens If You Use The Wrong Transmission Fluid?
If you fail to use the proper DW-1 transmission fluid, then it could result in a steady but gradual decline in performance. Honda’s transmissions are specifically designed to work with fluid that has a very specific kinematic viscosity and temperature index.
Using the wrong transmission fluid can result in gears changing slower, jerky gear shifts, and can cause excessive wear, reducing the life of your transmission. If you accidentally put the wrong fluid in, you should call your Honda dealership and ask about performing a full flush and replacing it with the correct fluid to prevent any future problems.
Can I Use Automatic Transmission Fluid In Manual Transmissions?
Although manual transmission and automatic transmission are designed to do the same thing (shift gears), the fluid used in each type is quite different. Manual transmissions tend to undergo more impact and greater wear and tear due to the more jerky nature of manual gear shifting. As such, they typically require a thicker, more viscous transmission fluid, which is met by most manual transmission fluids.
On the other hand, automatic transmissions are fine-tuned and typically use thinner, less viscous fluid to facilitate quicker, smoother gear transition. This means that you should not use automatic transmission fluid in a manual transmission.
Is It Easy To Change Your Own Transmission Fluid?
If you’ve ever changed your own engine oil, then you’ll find that changing your own transmission fluid requires a similar process. Overall, it’s a fairly simple process as long as you have the right tools and you know what you’re doing. Here are the tools and materials you’ll need to change your Honda’s transmission fluid:
- A pair of small ramps to drive the front of your car up onto.
- A plastic oil pan to catch the drained transmission fluid.
- A new washer for your drain plug.
- A ⅜ socket wrench to remove the transmission pan drain plug.
- A fresh transmission fluid filter.
- Several quarts of your chosen transmission fluid.
- A funnel to pour your transmission fluid.
How To Change The Transmission Fluid In Your Honda CRV
The Honda CRV is, by far, one of the most popular Hondas on the market. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide for those wishing to change their CRV’s transmission fluid and filter without going to the dealership or your local lube tech.
- Step 1: Warm your car up for 2 minutes to help the fluid flow faster.
- Step 2: Drive your car up on the ramps, turn the motor off, and engage the parking brake.
- Step 3: Remove the transmission fluid dipstick to help fluid flow out quicker.
- Step 4: Remove the plastic or metal underplate that protects your transmission pan.
- Step 5: Place your drain pan under the drain plug and use your ⅜ socket wrench to remove the drain plug, allow the fluid to drain completely.
- Step 6: Remove your transmission fluid filter and replace it with the new one.
- Step 7: Place your new washer on the drain plug and screw it back in (not too tight, as you don’t want to strip it or make it impossible to remove in the future).
- Step 8: Place a funnel into the tube you removed the dipstick from and slowly fill with transmission fluid. Most Honda CRVs require between 2.4 and 2.6 quarts of ATF fluid.
- Step 9: Use the dipstick to double-check that the fluid level is correct, place back inside the tube, close your hood, replace the underbelly pan, and dispose of the old fluid at your local auto parts store!
Here is video on how to do it.