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ZombyWoof

"A" Type Transmission Fluid '63 Riviera Dynaflow

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Hi, folks.

Finally found the time to get in here...glad I did. I have many questions, but I'll start with an easy one...

Seems that type "A" transmission fluid doesn't exactly flow off the shelves any more. What types out there are suitable replacements?

Greatly appreciated...

ZW

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Welcome!

You can still find Type A atf at many grocery stores and convenience stores (at least down here). It's not a real name brand, though, but a more regional brand of sorts--if that matters.

GM has said that DexronIII is backward compatible for their automatics all the way back to 1948, replacing Type A fluid in the later 1960s. You can still find DexronIII (usually co-branded with Ford Mercon atf) OR listed as "Multi-Vehicle" by some major brands (reading the fine print on the bottle will identify the main application as DexronIII/Mercon).

GM's new Dexron VI replaces DexronIII in their OEM-fill applications. It's available at the auto supplies, too. It is reputedly a semi-synthetic fluid that's needed on the new GM 6-speed rwd automatics, but it's factory fill for all GM North American (at least) automatics.

As the original Dexron fluid replaced Type A Suffix A atf, I think Dexron III would be more appropriate, unless you want to find some of the old Type A fluid. Your judgment call.

Just some thoughts,

NTX5467

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Thanks for that.

I'm kicking myself in the butt as the bottle I threw away 2 nights ago (after topping up a Ford, no less) listed all the compatibilities, along with Type "A". My trip to various establishments tonight yeiled no brands that included "A" compatibility.

Grrr...

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Everything pretty much used Type A Suffix A atf up to about the 1967-1968 time frame. GM superceded/upgraded their spec to Dexron (from Type A) and Ford came out with their Type F spec for their automatics (from Type A). End result is that Dexron goes pretty much everywhere except on the Fords that have to have Type F atf back then. Chrysler went with Dexron in 1968, from Type A. I suspect that many atf "brewers" might consider Type A to be an antique formulation that has been replaced by a better Dexron family of atf (whether you stop at Dexron III or include Dexron VI), for what it's worth.

ONE place that Type A atf might be REALLY NEEDED is in the power steering systems where it was originally specified. If GM recommends a particular part number Power Steering Fluid, THAT's what needs to be used . . . rather than adding atf.

Here's why, from my experience . . .

It used to be "industry standard" to allow a power steering system to be "topped-off" with Dexron atf. There would still be enough "real" psf in the mix to not really hurt anything as both fluids were similar in viscosity and such. But if there's a persistent leak that's not fixed or repaired, you soon end up with a power steering system full of Dexron atf.

I think that GM's been recommending a particular GM part number psf since the early 1960s, just as Chrysler has, but few people seem to be aware of it. By observation, genuine OEM-spec power steering fluid is a little more opaque and waxy looking, yet "clear", whereas atf is dyed red and lacks the waxy look. Due to their different design criteria, the basic fluid viscosity might be similar, but the respective additive packages would be highly different due to what they are designed to do.

I've bought a few used cars that, initially, had a power steering seep (from the hose or seals). I then found the power steering fluid to be "red tinted", meaning there was lots of atf in the mix. Each time, I'd get as much of the old fluid out and replace it with genuine OEM-supplied power steering fluid. When the red tint went away, so did the oil seeps from the hoses and such. Not only were the hoses and seals configured for a particular fluid spec compatibility, but when a different fluid was introduced, it made a difference. Whether the same thing might result in a power steering system spec'd for Type A atf or not, I do not know, but if you use Dexron in an earlier power steering system, you might keep an eye out for emerging leaks/drips situations.

Just some thougths,

NTX5467

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Thanks again...your thoughts are a wealth of info.

Bizarre thing is...Saturday, I walked past a hardware store that had a bargan bin out front...with the exact type of atf I'd just finished using up and tossing out the bottle! I grabbed the only one. It was from Esso (Canadian for Exxon)...don't have the bottle in front of me, but suitable for Dexron, Dexron II (I think), Mercon, Type A, diaper rash, hangovers, etc.

ZW

PS: If you're in DFW, I'm working on reading "Magnesium Overcast" (Convair B-36 story.) Sounds like great times in your neighbourhood back then...

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Thanks for the update.

"Convair" was a big deal back then. Lots of local Fort Worth Pride in that whole deal, especially by Amon G. Carter and his operatives.

Then it got to be General Dynamics and now Lockheed.

Take care,

NTX5467

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