Motor Oil For Transmission Fluid

Can I Use Motor Oil For Transmission Fluid?

Motor oil or engine oil is the oil that goes into the engine to ensure it functions smoothly. This oil provides lubrication between the moving parts of the engine and protects it from corrosion, wear and tear and other pollutants. 

On the other hand, transmission fluid is meant for the steering and gear system. The transmission fluid is supposed to keep the operation of the automatic or manual transmission smooth through proper lubrication. While these two fluids have certain similar properties, they cannot be used interchangeably. So it is important to remember that motor oil cannot be used in place of transmission fluid. 

What is transmission fluid and what does it do?

Any geared vehicle requires transmission fluid to ensure smooth operation of the gears and steering system. As the vehicle is driven, the internal parts in the gearbox are always in contact and moving against each other. This friction can cause the gears to wear down and damage the car. 

Thus, transmission fluid is the oil that is circulated in the system to provide lubrication to the moving gears and ensure that there is no wear and tear. Furthermore, transmission oil provides hydraulic pressure necessary for the gears to work and also keeps the transmission cool. 

What are the differences between motor oil and transmission fluid?

As mentioned before, motor oil is meant for the engine and the transmission fluid is meant for the steering and gear system. Apart from this, there are many differences in the chemical and physical makeup of both oils. On a basic level, engine oil looks different from transmission fluid, since it is golden or yellow in colour while transmission fluid is usually red

At the same time, engine oil is highly viscous or thick since it is meant to function under high pressures and temperatures. Transmission fluid does not operate under so much pressure and hence it is less viscous or thinner than engine oil. 

What happens if you use motor oil in place of transmission fluid?

Since both oils are specifically designed for different purposes, interchanging them can cause a lot of damage to the vehicle. The extent of damage largely depends upon how much engine oil has been added into the transmission and how long the vehicle is being driven with the wrong oil. 

Overall, using motor oil in the transmission can give rise to a grinding sensation in the gear, delay in response to gear, burning smells, gear slipping, unusual mechanical noises, etc. Most of the time, a car’s check engine light will turn on in such cases. 

What to do if motor oil is used in the transmission?


In case you have accidentally added motor oil to the transmission and are therefore experiencing issues or noises in the car, it is essential to remedy the mistake. The easiest way to do this is by flushing the engine oil out of the transmission. To do this, the incorrect oil must be drained from the system, after which it should be filled with fresh transmission fluid in the correct quantity

This is a simple process that can be completed at any local service station or mechanic shop. On the other hand, any car enthusiast can also complete this process at home, by using user manuals and guides. 

How often should transmission oil be changed?

Everyone is aware of the importance of changing engine oil, however, not many people keep an eye on the transmission fluid. While transmission fluid generally lasts longer than engine oil, since it is subject to less pressure and heat, over time even transmission oil breaks down and becomes contaminated with various pollutants. 

Whenever you notice the transmission fluid level is low, it is time to change the fluid. Furthermore, if you sense a decrease in performance of the gears or difficulty in shifting gears, that too can be a sign that the transmission fluid needs to be changed. 

However, if no such symptoms can be seen, then it is recommended that transmission oil should be changed every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. This duration also depends on the model and make of your car, so it is important to check the owner’s manual to determine how often the transmission fluid for your car should be changed. 



Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors