Is synthetic worth it? Should I use it?

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jer

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69
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Houston,tx
Sometimes I'm convinced on using it...then sometimes I'm convinced on not using it. I can't seem to make up my mind! Oh...and I'm new here to this forum, so excuse me if people have already had this discussion already. But I had some trouble finding discussions on this topic. Ok...enough talk... I have a '93 cavalier with about 40k on the transmission. So as you can see... I don't do heavy towing or drag racing, but I do a lot of stop-n-go driving (just to work) and live in a very hot climate (houston). I wanted to know if I'm wasting my money using synthetics on a car like mine. I most likely will not use it on my engine(it just isn't worth it), but it would not cost me an arm and a leg to use it on my transmission. Aside from that...I mainly want to use synthetics in hopes of extending the life of my tranmsission. I want to use the best fluids for my tranny and hopefully be able to see more then 100+ or 200+ miles. I've seen the reviews done at "bobistheoilguy" and saw the difference between dino oil and synthetics....and it seemed to me synthetics didn't really seem to do any good when you first accelerate the car. So I don't know what to think here. Does synthetic really work? and if I used synthetics would I prolong the life of my transmission if I used it? I think you get the idea of what I'm trying to accomplish. So any recommendation that you can provide would be of great great value to me. Thanks for any help you can give. -jer ps-in case your wondering. My engine has 160k and my transmission has 40k(re-built). I use valvoline (dino oil) for my engine and Castrol ATF for my Transmission.
 

jer

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Houston,tx
Changing your transmission at 20-30k intervals would definitely help, but I always thought that what really wears down a transmission is the heat and the wearing out of internal components(gears, bands, pistons, etc). I'm not an expert on transmissions and don't pretend to be, but it seems like synthetics is "suppose" to help improve the lubrication of those internal moving parts. If true, then it would decrease the heat that is generated by the transmission and the wearing of its mechanical parts. Just my simple overview on all of this, but perhaps I'm not looking at all this right... -jer
 
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quote:
Originally posted by jer: Changing your transmission at 20-30k intervals would definitely help, but I always thought that what really wears down a transmission is the heat and the wearing out of internal components(gears, bands, pistons, etc). I'm not an expert on transmissions and don't pretend to be, but it seems like synthetics is "suppose" to help improve the lubrication of those internal moving parts. If true, then it would decrease the heat that is generated by the transmission and the wearing of its mechanical parts. Just my simple overview on all of this, but perhaps I'm not looking at all this right... -jer
All the benefits you've listed here for using synthetics in the transmission also apply to the engine. In fact, the engine can benefit MORE from synthetics because of a synthetic's better ability to handle the contamination that's a normal product of combustion in the engine, but is absent in the transmission. Why are you willing to use a synthetic in the transmission, but say it's not worth it in the engine?
 
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Richmond, VA
I have used Amsoil synthetic ATF with good results and would recommend it in your Cavalier. Since your car has high miles and you live in a hot climate, I would probably use 15W-40 truck oil. Have heard Chevron Delo 400 is good. [Cheers!]
 
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2,077
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Cordelia, CA
I'm actually of the inverse opinion. I feel like sythetic in an automatic transmission is of little use, other than as a band-aid. I feel like it's better to spend the money on a serious cooler(like the biggest one that will fit) to keep things down around 160-170, where synth is not needed, and conventional fluid doesn't break down. [ June 04, 2003, 11:56 AM: Message edited by: VaderSS ]
 

jer

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Houston,tx
The two factors that steer me away from using synthetics in my engine are: 1.> I have 160k on the engine and internal components are worn. The Synthetic material may produce leaks on my seals/gaskets. 2.> Changing my oil at 3k (perhaps even 6K) is too costly in the long run. By the end of just one decade I will have spent close to $1000 extra just because I used synthetics. That kind of money could be spent on re-building the engine or finding a used engine and having it installed for me.(I don't have to tools/time to do it myself) So...that's the reason. I've thought about the synthetic blends, but I don't know if they are worth it and perhaps I shouldn't use them as for the same reason I would not use "fully synthetic" products. so...that's why I've reasoned myself not to use them. If I had a re-built engine or a very low mileage engine I may use synthetic blends, but I don't think its healthy for me to use it on my current engine...
 
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Monterey Park, CA
I was really skeptical about synthetics until I finally tried it. No going back to dino now. Engine runs so much smoother, less hot, and felt a pickup in power and mileage. No going back to dino anymore. So I'd say try it at least once to see if you like it. Leo
 

jer

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Location
Houston,tx
quote:
I was really skeptical about synthetics until I finally tried it. No going back to dino now. Engine runs so much smoother, less hot, and felt a pickup in power and mileage. No going back to dino anymore. So I'd say try it at least once to see if you like it.
That is the one thing that I've heard often is that your engine runs smoother, a lot cooler, and mileage improves. I'll be honest here, I am leaning a lot towards synthetics...well at least for the transmission. If synthetics can do what you have explained ...to an engine...imagine what synthetics could do for a transmission. I think if I used synthetics for my engine...I would use a blend. It is much more cost effective then using the full strength solution. -jer
 
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7,775
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Oklahoma
Curious, I have a '90 olds ciera, V6 with 4 speed auto. It already has a trans cooler built in. Unless I'm totally screwed up, there are two lines that come from the trans and goes in to cool side of the radiator. If you look down the radiator, it looks like a radiator within a radiator.
 

jer

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69
Location
Houston,tx
quote:
Curious, I have a '90 olds ciera, V6 with 4 speed auto. It already has a trans cooler built in. Unless I'm totally screwed up, there are two lines that come from the trans and goes in to cool side of the radiator. If you look down the radiator, it looks like a radiator within a radiator.
One line takes the fluid that exits the transmission(which is really hot because it has just been used)...sends it to the cooler(which is your radiator(just like mine)) after the fluids makes its way thru the cooler it then exits out into another cooler line and sends it back to the transmission. From there it drops right back into the pan to cool off the fluids even further before it is used yet again by the transmission. It is a never ending cycle. -jer
 
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2,077
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Cordelia, CA
Do you have the 3 spd transmission in your Cavalier? I had that same tranny in my Olds Ciera. It is infamous for failing prematurely. I put a 24000 GVW cooler on it when I got it at 80k and changed the fluid(stayed with AC brand fluid). I then drove it another 80k, like I stole it. The trans is still fine(gave the car to grandma), and that is behind a V6. [ June 04, 2003, 12:04 PM: Message edited by: VaderSS ]
 

jer

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69
Location
Houston,tx
I've heard a "lot" of good things about Amsoil, but I guess I'm just hesitant about using it because it doesn't seem like a well known brand. I was planning on using Mobil 1 ATF(synthetic) for my transmission. And yeah...I could use a cooler, but I think that might be a little excessive. I used a temperature gun on my cooler lines and got the following results. OUTPUT LINE = 151 F INPUT LINE = 114 F in my opinion I think those results are not too bad. Now if I am correct about this....if I added a snazzy cooler to my car I could reduce the temperature to about 10-20 degrees. But I do not think I want to go too low. If I am too low then the heat that is generated within the transmission will generate a type of condensation(vapor). You want to burn that off...just like you would want to burn that off in the engine....if you don't then that watery vapor would get deposited back into your transmission and engine ... ruining your engine and transmission in the long run. I meant that in a seperate way. I know that engines and transmission don't mix.... -jer
 

jer

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Houston,tx
you know, you got me there. I believe that it is either a 3 or 4 speed. But I do know the transmission model... it is a 125. I never used AC fluids for my transmission before. Actually, I didn't even know that it existed. I try to use AC/Delco when I can and when it makes sense...otherwise I just use well known 3rd party products. -jer
 
Messages
2,077
Location
Cordelia, CA
quote:
in my opinion I think those results are not too bad. Now if I am correct about this....if I added a snazzy cooler to my car I could reduce the temperature to about 10-20 degrees. But I do not think I want to go too low. If I am too low then the heat that is generated within the transmission will generate a type of condensation(vapor). You want to burn that off...just like you would want to burn that off in the engine....
How did you come about those figures? Was that after heavy stop and go? If not then you need to check after that kind of driving. Temps soar then, generally up over 220F. Where does condensation come from in an engine? It comes from combustion. HxCx + O2 = CO2 and H2O You should not see condensation in a transmission. From what I've seen, you can't overcool an automatic transmission, unless you live in arctic conditions, especially not in Houston. They just generate too much heat. One caveat here is that I stick with parallel flow type coolers such as the B&M line.
quote:
it is a 125.
That's the one. It has a maximum torque rating of 195 Lbs-Ft. My little V6 puts righ at 185. Gm stopped putting it behind V6s and then stopped making it entirely. It's quite a "piece." [ June 04, 2003, 12:36 PM: Message edited by: VaderSS ]
 

jer

Thread starter
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69
Location
Houston,tx
Well I must admit I did those results a little later after heavy driving. I think it was an hour later before I checked the results, but didn't think it could effect the results too much or am I wrong? -jer
 
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2,077
Location
Cordelia, CA
Try it immedietly after. If it's that cool, I'll be shocked, but you certainly won't need a cooler if that's the case. I never got to measure the actual temps on my Ciera, but I know that you could not touch the lines before or after the cooler after heavy driving. After putting the B&M in, I could hold both lines in my hand. If it was possible to overcool, that should have done it... [ June 04, 2003, 12:41 PM: Message edited by: VaderSS ]
 
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418
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OR
I've read horror stories from owners who switched their ATF fluids over to synthetics. Some tranny's can be very unforgiving when it comes to the exact friction characteristics of the fluid. This is particularly the case with Toyota and Mopar but it also applies to GM. I use nothing but what's recommended by the manufacturer and I change it much more frequently than the manufacturer recommends. I do however use synthetics in the engine.
quote:
Originally posted by jer: Sometimes I'm convinced on using it...then sometimes I'm convinced on not using it. I can't seem to make up my mind! Oh...and I'm new here to this forum, so excuse me if people have already had this discussion already. But I had some trouble finding discussions on this topic. Ok...enough talk... I have a '93 cavalier with about 40k on the transmission. So as you can see... I don't do heavy towing or drag racing, but I do a lot of stop-n-go driving (just to work) and live in a very hot climate (houston). I wanted to know if I'm wasting my money using synthetics on a car like mine. I most likely will not use it on my engine(it just isn't worth it), but it would not cost me an arm and a leg to use it on my transmission. Aside from that...I mainly want to use synthetics in hopes of extending the life of my tranmsission. I want to use the best fluids for my tranny and hopefully be able to see more then 100+ or 200+ miles. I've seen the reviews done at "bobistheoilguy" and saw the difference between dino oil and synthetics....and it seemed to me synthetics didn't really seem to do any good when you first accelerate the car. So I don't know what to think here. Does synthetic really work? and if I used synthetics would I prolong the life of my transmission if I used it? I think you get the idea of what I'm trying to accomplish. So any recommendation that you can provide would be of great great value to me. Thanks for any help you can give. -jer ps-in case your wondering. My engine has 160k and my transmission has 40k(re-built). I use valvoline (dino oil) for my engine and Castrol ATF for my Transmission.
 

Al

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19,233
Location
Elizabethtown, Pa
It would make sense to change your ATF at this point. Since a GM Auto Trans is so mucvh a PITA to change I would use Synthetic ATF (either Mobil 1 or Amsoil) If you do it yourself you get about half the ATF bc there is a fair amount in the TQ. If you can do it yourself-I would change filter and go with the Syn 00ATF then in another year do the same thing again. You'll get better life out of the Syn but there will be little difference in performance IMHO . If you had a drain plug like a Nissan, you could just do a drain of 50% every 6 months with el'cheapo brand.
 

jer

Thread starter
Messages
69
Location
Houston,tx
oopss..forgot to reply to your condensation. It seems a little hard to comprehend that a transmission will not give off some type of condensation. The heat that is generated within the transmission has to turn into another form of matter. for example, when you heat boiling water in a pan what happens? The molecular structure of water will begin to expand because of the heat that is being generated(heat rises). When the heat expands fully it then slowly turns into a gas form...the farther apart each atom is...the higher and faster the vapor will rise. If you put a sheet of metal in this vapor...condensation will occur if the sheet is of a different temperature. My spout(where I fill my ATF fluids) is not air tight...so air(which has H20 in it) will always make its way inside helping to create that condensation...as well as there being a temperature difference from the inside and outside of the transmission. OK...I'll stop there. That is just my opinion and observation. I figure where ever there is heat...there is going to be some type of condensation and a little bit h2o.
 
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