Best CVT Transmission Fluids: Top Picks for Lubrication
These top CVT transmission fluids will keep your car running smoothly
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Many modern cars have a continuously variable transmission, known as a CVT. These types of cars require special CVT fluid for lubrication purposes, and the fluid is different than what's required on other automatic transmissions. If you have a vehicle with a CVT transmission, check out our buyers guide to find the best fluid on the market.
- Best OverallValvoline Continuously Variable Transmission FluidSummarySummaryThis transmission fluid can be used in the most belt and chain-driven CVTs. It's formulated with premium synthetic base stocks, long-life friction modifiers, special anti-wear additives, and shear stable viscosity modifiers.ProsProsThis fluid will not void a new car warranty, and it provides excellent anti-shudder durability, wet-clutch performance, and anti-wear performance. It's also less expensive than OEM fluid.ConsConsThis fluid is not recommended for Toyota or Ford hybrid CVT units. It also has a very strong odor and may not work as well as OEM fluid in certain makes and models.
- Best ValueCastrol Transmax ATF Black CVT Transmission FluidSummarySummaryThis fluid works on certain Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Daihatsu, Mazda, Suzuki, Hyundai, Chrysler, Mini Cooper, and Ford vehicles. It provides enhanced wear protection for longer transmission life.ProsProsThe fluid has protection to resist oxidation and enhanced friction durability for smoother driving. Superior variator torque capacity helps prevent belt or chain slippage.ConsConsThis fluid may not work with some vehicles that it claims to be compatible with, making it harder for your vehicle to shift. Also, the product may leak during shipping.
- Honorable MentionGenuine Nissan OEM CVT-2 Transmission FluidSummarySummaryIf you're looking for genuine Nissan OEM CVT transmission fluid, then this is what you need. This product comes directly from the manufacturer.ProsProsThis product is very reasonably priced considering it's an OEM fluid, particularly if you purchase it online and not from your local dealership. It keeps your transmission from stuttering, slipping, and whining.ConsConsThe amount of product you get (5 quarts) may be slightly less than you need for some Nissan transmissions, requiring you to purchase an additional quart.
- You probably need to replace your transmission fluid if your vehicle suddenly shifts up and down, you hear grinding sounds, your vehicle shifts erratically, or you see a spike in RPMs before shifting.
- It's critical that your CVT fluid is compatible with your vehicle's make, model, and year. Check the manufacturer's specifications to ensure that it is designed for your particular vehicle.
- If you put regular automatic transmission fluid into your CVT transmission, it will be extremely damaging and will eventually cause your transmission to die.
Q: What is the purpose of CVT fluid?
A: Transmission fluid lubricates the transmission so it can dissipate heat. It also protects against wear and corrosion and helps maintain viscosity and lower-temperature fluidity.
Q: Is it better to use a vehicle-make specific fluid or one that is universal?
A: That is a personal preference. Universal CVT fluids tend to be a good alternative to vehicle-make specific brands, and they may also be a little less expensive.
Q: How often do I need to change my CVT fluid?
A: That depends on your vehicle. It can be as often as every 30,000 miles to as little as every 100,000 miles. Consult your owner's manual to find out.
Our pick for the best CVT transmission fluid is the Valvoline Continuously Variable Transmission Fluid. It’s compatible with most makes and models, is less expensive than OEM brands, and does its job well.
For a more budget-friendly option, consider the Castrol Transmax ATF Black CVT Transmission Fluid.
Tell us about your favorite CVT transmission fluids in the comment section below.