Japanese car manufacturers like Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Subaru, and Mitsubishi fervently support the CVT transmission. Mazda nevertheless does not equip their car with the CVT transmission but instead with a torque converter transmission called Sky – Active. The CVT transmission has a specific design as it does not have many moving parts as it has a pulley. The CVT, in reality, does not have a gear ratio; however, the aforementioned Japanese carmaker does include a computer-controlled CVT gear ratio. When car lovers use any vehicle mentioned above, they need extreme precautions as CVT transmission is delicate. Any negligence in the maintenance will lead to severe consequences.  

The crucial part of CVT transmission maintenance is replacing the transmission fluid. Each manufacturer has set their recommended interval to replace the CVT transmission fluid. In these instances, Toyota had imprinted in their manual that the CVT transmission needs to be replaced each 80,000km while Honda is on 40,000km. If they are not timeframe or interval, the general rule is to replace the transmission fluid on 50,000km. It is appropriate to replace the fluid before the interval to avoid any degradation in the smoothness and any severe malfunction.

Pertaining to the CVT fluid, the perspective of car lovers may vary. Some car lovers recommended replacing the fluid with the car manufacturer’s own fluid, while others prefer the aftermarket CVT transmission fluid. Whether the manufacturers own fluid or the aftermarket CVT fluid, each has a similar selling point. The selling point for both of them is that their CVT fluid can reduce oxidation, decrease metal to metal friction, provide smoothness while driving, and have longer replacement intervals.

The genuine CVT fluid will commonly be sold in one single unit, either in a tin can or a lubricant bottle containing 3.5 or 4 litres of fluid. For example, Toyota CVT fluid will be sold in a single tin can while Honda CVT fluid will be sold in the lubricant bottle. However, Honda had another genuine CVT fluid called HFC-2 Ultra sold in a single tin can. The aftermarket CVT transmission can be divergent as it can be sold in a single unit of a tin can, a single 3.5 or 4 litres of lubricant bottle, and in the single lubricant bottle, which contains only 1 litre of fluid. Castrol, Idemitsu, Eneos, and others sell their fluid in a single 4-litre lubricant bottle, while Mitatsu and others sell in a tin can. Liqui Moly, Amsoil, Total  CVT fluid is sold in a single 1-litre lubricant bottle. When consumers choose these brands, they need to pay for 4 bottles as most CVT transmissions can hold 3.5 litres of 4 litres in the transmission gaskets.

Relating to aftermarket CVT, the Amsoil CVT is the most expensive aftermarket as their 1-litre fluid price starts from RM92, and the consumer needs to spend more than MYR400, including the labour charge. Nevertheless, unique among all the aftermarket CVT, Amsoil had courageously declared that their CVT fluid is Warranty Secure and will not affect the vehicles’ warranties. Since Amsoil had become the first engine oil manufacturer to receive the API certificate, their claim can be said as justified and trustworthy.

The CVT fluid colour too can vary among the CVT fluid makers as Castrol Transmax CVT transmission is red, Nissan NS-2 is green in colour, Honda CVT fluid is brownish yellow, and a lot more. The colour can’t determine the efficacy of the CVT fluid as when the CVT fluid is replaced, the colour can turn to black or dark brown. However, these different colours can be a point of contention if the vehicle is still under warranties and the consumer ignores the warranties warning and uses the aftermarket CVT. If they are any malfunction, then the vehicle warranties for the transmission can be void, and the car lovers need to pay an enormous amount to replace the gearbox.

The standard selling point is a longer replacement interval for the aftermarket CVT. On their website, Amsoil had claimed that their CVT fluid could run for 100,000km, Liqui Molly had contended that their CVT could run for 80,000km, and Castrol for 75,000km. Their claim is contradictory as they will be another statement that says “follows the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations.” It is better to follow the vehicle manufacturer’s advice or general rules of replacing the CVT fluid in 50,000km in these cases. As mentioned earlier, the CVT transmission is sensitive, and every maintenance rule needs to be adhered to avoid any transmission malfunction.

Which is the better one, aftermarket CVT or genuine manufacturer CVT fluid? Again this comes to consumer experience, which can be different. Some car lovers whose vehicle warranties had expired prefer the genuine CVT fluid to be on the safer side, while some car lovers prefer the aftermarket CVT. Car lovers who prefer the aftermarket CVT will highlight the advantages that it brings over genuine CVT fluid. In contrast, car lovers who prefer genuine CVT fluid will mention that genuine fluid is custom made for their vehicle transmission. The claim of car lovers who prefer the CVT fluid as safer is a matter of fact. Some aftermarket CVTs does advertise falsely by stating that their CVT is compatible with the vehicle manufacturer’s transmission. Another major point using the genuine CVT is that it will be made specifically for their transmission while aftermarket can be considered multi-vehicle CVT.

However, some reputed aftermarket CVT fluid makers like Castrol, Amsoil, Liqui Moly, and Valvoline were recommended as the best aftermarket CVT. Nevertheless, the vital rule to keep the CVT intact is to replace the fluid according to the vehicle manufacturer on time or before the recommended interval.

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