CVT cars and vehicles are getting popular by the hour, and rightfully so. These are much more efficient than regular transmissions and enhance engine power.
The main reason people choose these is CVT configurations are cheaper and provide a smoother drive. But just like another transmission, they require transmission fluid too. And that’s where our problem begins.
You see, CVT transmission fluid is not only harder to come but is also very specific to your vehicle. And there are tons of factors to consider, including thermal stability and wear protection.
So when you want to buy a good CVT transmission fluid, you’re completely dumbfounded on what to buy.
But we’re here to make that decision easier for you. Below is a detailed review of the 4 best CVT transmission fluids and their key features. We also list down all the factors that make a good CVT fluid.
- Best CVT Transmission Fluids Comparison Table
- Top 4 Best CVT Transmission Fluids In 2021 Reviews
- Best CVT Transmission Fluids Buying Guide
Best CVT Transmission Fluids Comparison Table
1 quart, pack of 6
Belt and chain-drive CVTs.
|(5 / 5)|
|(4.2 / 5)|
1 quart, pack of 5
Mitsubishi Fit Lancer, Outlander, Outlander Sports.
|(4.8 / 5)|
|(4.5 / 5)|
Top 4 Best CVT Transmission Fluids In 2021 Reviews
1 Valvoline Cvt Full Synthetic Transmission Fluid
Valvoline’s transmission fluid meets all the demands of your engine. It uses a proprietary formula to stay up-to-the-mark and perform well under strain.
This CVT transmission fluid uses a fully synthetic stock mixed with the brand’s own additive technology. Hence, it is able to work under heavy stress with no drawbacks. The additives allow it to provide better film protection when the engine reaches high temperatures.
And not only that…
It can also survive even lower temperatures. So you won’t have a constant issue of the transmission fluid freezing over.
Engine shudder, which is caused by low-quality transmission fluid, is practically non-existent. So you won’t experience vigorous shaking when going in overdrive or climbing up steep hills. It also provides better metal-to-metal contact protection. This reduces friction and ensures a healthy car performance.
But it doesn’t end there…
The Valvoline CVT transmission fluid also features advanced wear technology. But this isn’t for the fluid, it’s for the engine. Experts have engineered this formula to prevent abrasion and general corrosion.
Therefore, not only does the Valvoline perform well, but it also ensures better transmission health. It comes in 1-quart canisters, and you can buy a pack of 6. What’s even better is that this fluid is backward-compatible with Dextron 3 fluid transmission.
But there is some margin for improvement here. This transmission fluid is only recommended for the belt and chain-drive CVTs. However, it is not the best for Hybrid CVTs. Also, you’ll find it has a very strong smell, which can hang around in your garage and car.
In addition to that, the Valvoline has a lower flash point, at just 208 degrees Celsius. If the temperature inside your engine goes beyond that, the transmission fluid might get burnt.
- Can survive extreme stress.
- Better film protection.
- No jamming in winters.
- Advanced anti-wear technology.
- Maintains transmission health.
- Not for Hybrid CVTs.
- Low flashpoint.
2 Lubegard Universal Cvt Fluid, 1.25 Gallons
If you want an all-around product that will be compatible with your engine, try the Lubegard CVT Fluid. With minimal friction and supreme anti-shudder technology, the Lubegard is an all-in-one. This is a universal transmission fluid that is compatible with most CVT vehicles.
The Lubegard uses an anti-wear formula that minimizes friction between mating parts. This means the belts and pulleys inside your gearbox will remain in novel condition.
The Lubegard is immune to winter and cold damage. It remains fluid and consistent even when subject to below-freezing temperatures. In addition to that, it can survive higher temperatures that your engine will subject your transmission to.
The superior heat threshold is mainly imparted by Lubegard’s in-house LXE technology. This is also what allows the fluid to protect your engine against general wear and tear. The Lubegard also features higher shear stability, which in layman’s terms means higher film strength.
Furthermore, it prevents sludge. Sludge is a common occurrence in vehicles, so having a transmission fluid that inhibits, is a good idea. To protect against unwanted oxidation, the Lubegard has been formulated to discourage oxidation. In other words, it has high oxidative stability.
Why it’s important?
As stated earlier, this is universal transmission fluid. It’s compatible with well over 60 different CVT applications. It’s even better than most OEM fluid recommendations.
This is a great CVT transmission fluid to solve a lot of problems, such as overheating and freezing. It reduces engine shudder and makes climbing inclines smoother.
However, you may find the fluid can start to whine a lot later in its life. You can fix this issue by simply replacing the fluid, but it’s still not much durable.
- Remains fluid in the cold.
- Superior shudder protection.
- Prevents sludge and varnish formation.
- Compatible with 60 CVT applications.
- High shear and oxidative stability.
- May start to produce noise after some time.
3 Genuine Mitsubishi Cvt Transmission Fluid
Don’t want to trust anything aside from OEM applications? Then you’ll love this Genuine Mitsubishi transmission fluid for Mitsubishi vehicles. This is the OEM recommendation for Mitsubishi vehicles. It is compatible with Fit Lancers, Outlanders, and Outlander Sports.
This is a strong and well-formulated CVT fluid that can withstand a wide temperature range. It protects against film deterioration in the summer. And in the winter, it remains fluid and ready-to-go whenever you start your Mitsubishi.
Why does this matter?
Being an OEM fluid, you can expect it to outperform over-the-counter fluids for your vehicle. The formula is designed to reduce the build-up of sludge and varnish. Some sludge may still appear here and there, but the fluid takes care of most of it.
However, what is a much more unique attribute is, it prevents corrosion caused by rusting. This ensures better transmission health and saves you from permanent engine damage.
You also get improved shift performance. This basically means shifting gears feels smoother and more consistent.
Mitsubishi recommends only filling up to 4.2 quarts, so be careful to not overfill. You get these in a pack of 5 one-quart bottles. It’s also highly recommended to replace the filter before you start any oil changes. This is an OEM transmission fluid for Mitsubishi. And it will always feel better than non-OEM fluids.
Being OEM, however, you can expect it to be quite sensitive when mixed with other transmission fluids. Plus, this is only recommended for Mitsubishi applications. It may work for some over-the-counter applications, but there’s no way to confirm this beforehand.
But you should still rely on this transmission fluid for your Mitsubishi vehicles. It’s recommended for Outlander XL CV transmissions as well as Lancer X variators.
- OEM CVT transmission fluid.
- Reduces the formation of sludge and varnish.
- Stays fluid in freezing conditions.
- Prevents corrosion and maintains gearbox health.
- Feels smoother and safer.
- Only works with some Mitsubishi CVT vehicles.
4 Red Line Non-Slip Variable Transmission Fluid
Having a product that’s specifically designed for your needs is always better than a universal one. And the Red Line CVT fluid plays right on that string. This is a non-slip CVT transmission fluid designed for belt-type transmissions only. While the lack of compatibility may discourage you, for anyone who has that type of transmission, this means good news.
Numerous models of CVT cars, such as those from Daihatsu, Nissan, and Subaru can benefit from the Red Line. It uses special additives that prevent corrosion nod wear and tear. It lubricates mating surfaces and prevents metal-on-metal friction and abrasion. Friction, in addition to causing wear, can also cause burning in your transmission fluid.
Speaking of burning, this transmission fluid can withstand high heats. It has excellent shear protection that keeps it safe from film damage. And it has higher thermal stability than similar models.
At such high temperatures, you would expect a lot of valves to start varnishing. However, the Red Line takes care of that and prevents varnish formation.
Additionally, it has longer drain intervals. So you can drive in peace without having to stop constantly for maintenance.
But keep in mind this transmission fluid is not recommended for many vehicles.
For instance, don’t use it for Honda cars that use a wet-start clutch. You also shouldn’t use it in clutch-type CVTs in Audis, or for toroidal or dry gearboxes.
This is a perfect choice if you want a more targeted CVT application. It’s adept at reducing friction and maintains low volatility even at extreme temperatures. Not only that, but you get higher oxidative stability, resulting in a longer-lasting CVT transmission fluid.
The only downside, however, is its limited application. It’s only made for belt-type CVTs, and even then, won’t work on many types of clutches.
- Low-maintenance CVT fluid.
- Protects against rust and wear.
- Low volatility even in the summer.
- High thermal and oxidative stability.
- Reduces clutch and valve varnishing.
- Only for belt-type CVTs.
- Not for wet-clutch Honda CVTs.
Best CVT Transmission Fluids Buying Guide
Make sure the CVT transmission fluid you’re planning on buying is compatible with your vehicle type. OEM CVT fluids will most likely spell out which vehicles they are compatible with. But non-OEM ones might be a bit more general with it.
There are three types of CVTs: belt/pulley-type, toroidal, and hydrostatic. Check what type you have on your car, and confirm that your transmission fluid can handle it. Most CVT transmission fluids can only handle belt/pulley-type CVTs.
You may also find “universal” CVT transmission fluids. This simply means, it is not a vehicle-specific/OEM model, and can be used for multiple vehicles that use the same type of CVT. It does not mean that it will cater to all three types of CVTs.
Next, consider how much you need. Most CVT transmission fluids will come in 1-quart bottles, generally bought in a bundle. The amount you should buy isn’t random. You should check your car’s manual or talk to an expert to determine the exact amount of transmission fluid needed for your car. Overfilling is a major problem and can lead to component failure.
Since you can only get them in 1-quart bottles, you’ll need to be careful when handling fractional quarts. For instance, if you have 5 bottles, and need 4.2 quarts, you’ll need to measure out 20% of the last bottle carefully, in order to avoid overfilling.
Being able to withstand a wide temperature range is important for CVT transmission fluids. After all, you’ll be using your vehicle in all sorts of scenarios. Some fluids may specify the temperature range they operate, while others will be less upfront about it.
For warmer temperature, simply knowing that the fluid has improved shear is enough. Look for this keyword in case the transmissions fluid doesn’t say it can survive the heat. You don’t need to know the exact range. Most CVT transmission fluids can survive the temperature your car will be subject to.
However, it’s the other end of the temperature spectrum you should be worried about. While good CVT transmission fluids will remain liquid at lower temperatures, there’s a limit to that. If the fluid doesn’t mention it, you might be in for a tough ride.
Lifespan And Maintenance
Transmission fluid is the last thing you want to change frequently. So buying one that will last you longer is always a good choice. The fluid that has gotten burnt or overused will start to wear off faster. A good way to check if your fluid is burnt is to see if it has discoloration.
Maintenance is a huge problem too. You want the transmission lines to stay completely free from dust, debris, and sludge. The best CVT transmission fluids inhibit sludge formation. And many are designed to clean out leftover gunk from previous fluids.
Also, look for low varnish formation. Varnish can form over valves and clutches, which can be detrimental to their healthy functioning.
Finally, consider CVT transmission fluid that offers low wear and tear. This means it should lubricate mating parts to prevent friction. Friction can not only cause erosion and wear but can also lead to sparks and potential burning of the fluid.
Some CVT transmission fluids are designed to prevent rust formation as well. This will ensure better gearbox health in the long run.
Transmission fluid that is too old, burnt, incompatible, or overused can produce noise too. So a fluid change will reduce the noise.
CVT vehicles are certainly much more efficient as compared to regular automatics. And while buying a decent transmission fluid for them can seem hectic, it’s not impossible.
We looked at just 4 of the best CVT transmission fluids for your car. And we concluded that,Valvoline CVT Fluid is the best of them all.
The reasons are all there. It’s versatile and can be used in most belt-type configurations. It’s also apt at reducing engine shudder and noise from old transmission fluids.
And to add to all that, it has higher thermal stability and stays fluid even at lower temperatures. The only downside is, it’s not recommended for hybrid CVTs.
All in all, you can find the right CVT transmission fluid for yourself if you look at just a few factors. Find a suitable product for your application, and you’ll be driving smoothly in no time!