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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I recently switched over to Maxlife ATF after using original Honda ATF DW-1 for almost 100k miles.
It has been 1 week since I changed it, the transmission shifts okay (not particularly better) but problem is the transmission fluid smell inside of my car.

Very first thing I did was see if there is any leak or the plug not been tightened correctly. But there is no oil mark at the bottom & the plug is dry.
I even checked the fluid level when the car is in operating temperature, the fluid level is okay (it only has been 1 week) but the dip stick was REALLY hot! Maybe the tip of the dipstick is metal and at operating temperature, it is supposedly that hot but now I'm worrying that Maxlife ATF actually burns? hence I smell the transmission fluid smell in my car now?

I checked the Malife ATF container and it is missing DW-1 as 'compatible' list but their agent did stated that it is compatible with DW-1.
Not sure who to believe anymore...
 

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now I'm worrying that Maxlife ATF actually burns?
Burning transmission fluid is a TOTALLY different smell than what it smells like in the bottle. My guess is that there is/was some spilled transmission fluid somewhere from the fluid exchange. It also wouldn't take much of a leak for you to have a smell in the cabin.

MaxLife is a compatible fluid, as posted above.

-Charlie
 

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I have Maxlife in my Cadillac and could smell it inside the car for about a week. Not sure why it stinks so much worse than other ATF but it is fine to use in Hondas.
 

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Yeah, I got a little on the housing too when filling up (on both my cars!) and the stink cooks off.

Not sure why they never updated the external labeling on MaxLife but as you can see with the spec sheet DW-1 is covered. No real difference in feel or performance between DW-1 and MaxLife, but MaxLife for me is a heck of a lot cheaper and accessible.

Objects in mirrors appear closer, your result may vary, etc.
 

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Valvoline Maxlife is missing several of the key ingredients that are in Honda DW -1!!! I chose not to use it in my, new to me, 2016 Ody.

"Three ATF’s were analyzed by two labs, one a university lab and another a commercial lab to determine their elemental and chemical composition because of on-going debates about the suitability of each fluid for various applications. The three ATF’s analyzed were: Genuine Honda DW-1, Valvoline MaxLife, and Idemitsu Type H-Plus.

All ATF’s were purchased in early July at the author’s expense.

Analytical analysis used was FTIR, C-NMR, and H-NMR on various instrumentation types.

Two of the fluids, Valvoline MaxLife, and Idemitsu Type H-Plus were purchased from a local auto parts store while the Genuine Honda DW-1 was purchased from a Honda Dealer at the parts counter. The price of the Genuine Honda DW-1 and Idemitsu Type H averaged about $8.11 per quart. The price of the Valvoline MaxLife averaged about $5.00/quart.

Note: Only the elemental analysis for Boron down to Zinc will be reported since any elements < 2ppm usually represent some chemical “tag” or very low levels of metal inhibitor chemistry.

This analysis will not disclose any base oil, Friction Modifier, or other possible proprietary compounds. Readers are referred to the respective manufacturers’ web sites for ATF properties, claims, and coverage, or “Suitable for Use in” categories. Note: “Suitable for Use In” does NOT equate to equivalency!

All elemental and viscosity values were averaged over the samples.

Original Honda DW-1™ (Part # beginning with 08200-):
Boron - 272
Silicon - 4
Sodium - 3
Calcium - 353
Magnesium - 204
Phosphorus - 2
Zinc – 320
[email protected] – 6.93 cSt
Commentary and Opinion: The chemical signature for this ATF is essentially the same as Honda’s Z-1 fluid and is indicative of fluids used in Automated Manual transmissions. To the author’s knowledge, no Step-Shift ATF chemical signature compares. Notable is the level of the Zinc compounds needed for the internals of Automated Manual transmissions.

Owners’ of Step-Shift automatic transmissions should avoid using this product in any Step-Shift automatic transmission.


Label - Valvoline MaxLife™ (Part # beginning with 773):
Boron - 272
Silicon - 2
Sodium - 8
Calcium - 230
Magnesium - 3
Phosphorus - 579
Zinc – 3
[email protected] – 5.91 cSt

Commentary and Opinion: The chemical signature for this ATF is indicative of the later Dexron and Dex/Merc series of ATF’s based on the original Dexron through the Dexron III(H)) and Dexron VI series of ATF’s. It is closely comparative to the GM Dexron VI formulations as well as to their own Dexron VI offering, and can be classified as a low Viscosity ATF. What is notable is a boost in the Ant-Wear Phosphorus compound of about 200 ppm.

The manufacturer claims coverage, or “Suitable for Use in” (no equivalency claims) for Honda/Acura’s Z-1 and DW-1. I do not see how this could be the case when compared to the DW-1 analysis above.

Valvoline could claim coverage of Idemitsu’s fluid because Idemitsu Type-H is claiming coverage of Honda Z-1 and DW-1 (see below), but this would be a gross overstepping of “read-across” coverage, and nowhere in Valvoline’s PI sheets do I see “Suitable for Use in” Idemitsu Type H-Plus applications.


Label - Idemitsu Type H-Plus™ (Part # beginning with 30040090-):
Boron - 30
Silicon - 2
Sodium - 3
Calcium - 265
Magnesium - 2
Phosphorus - 245
Zinc – 3
[email protected] – 5.91 cSt

Commentary and Opinion: The chemical signature for this ATF is indicative of the fluid used in many Asian-made Step-Shift automatic transmissions. As you can see from the MaxLife comments it is very similar to the GM Dexron series.

However, the Idemitsu label claims, “ATF Type-H plus Engineered for Honda Z-1 and DW-1.” Again, looking at the analysis for the Original Honda DW-1, I fail to see how this could be the case.

Conclusion: While this article may not settle all debates, one should closely examine these analyses and educate themselves on the various offerings and claims in order to determine “suitability” for their vehicles’ tr ansmission. "
From https://www.bobistheoilguy.com/forums/ubbthreads.php/topics/5171699/1
I feel that it is necessary to go over to Bobistheoilguy forum and read the rest of the thread. Imho there is more very important reading in that thread!!
 

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All that analysis shows is that the stabilizer / additive package is not the same. Can't tell from that info is one is better, same or worse.
 

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None of that tells me how a given ATF will perform in a given transmission. All that the IR and NMR spectroscopy will do for you is yield a trustworthy elemental analysis of the fluid. In the end, ATF chemical composition is not as important as ATF performance (i.e., fluid power transmission ability, lubrication qualities, heat capacity and exchange properties, bearing friction modification, anti-foaming capability, clutch friction modification, etc.). If a 5-gallon mini-barrel of tractor hydraulic fluid did everything ATF DW-1 was supposed to do, I'd buy it, no matter what that list of elements reads at the end of the day.

Per my own nostrils, AmSOil Signature Series ATF has the same odor as Valvoline MaxLife ATF. Strange, huh? Our two Odysseys, cumulatively, have just shy of 400,000 miles on them. Didn't check my maintenance notes, but as a good guess, we've probably been using AmSOil ATF for well over 250,000 miles between the two vans. For our Odysseys, I abandoned Honda ATF many, many years ago and many, many miles ago.

Did use MaxLife ATF for over 40,000 miles in our 2003, but had to switch to AmSOil ATF because the Valvoline product became very difficult to find in my area for a while. It is quite popular.

Interestingly, Ashland Chemical has decreased the 100°C Viscosity a bit for MaxLife ATF (I recall it used to be a somewhat higher number). Right now I'm using Valvoline Import Multi-Vehicle Synthetic ATF in our 2002 EX, as its viscosity numbers are closer to Honda ATF-Z1. I'm not abandoning AmSOil; I just forgot to order some this year and ran out.

OF
 

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Its also silly to try to run down Maxlife considering the known deficiencies of the Honda-spec ATF. I've used it before on an Aisin transmission and I'd use it again. Trans ran smoother and quieter on just one D/F with Maxlife so I didn't do more immediately and it turned out that I traded the car soon after on a 2011 Sportage.
 

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I agree that simple chemical analysis does not tell the whole story.

Even the analysis presented above shows that Z-1 and DW-1 are "essentially the same." ("chemical signature for this ATF is essentially the same as Honda’s Z-1 fluid") Yet Honda felt strongly enough about the difference that they basically invented DW-1 and pulled Z-1 off the market since it was burning up AT's.

My humble data point is that I switched to MaxLife on both my Odysseys about a combined 50k miles ago, once my DW-1 stockpile ran out, and having read many positive reports on here about MaxLife. Both AT's running great with the MaxLife.

Following my basic belief in the complexity of fluids like this situation, I tend to follow the manufacturer's recommendation unless either (1) the manufacturer's fluid is clearly inferior, like Z-1 turned out to be, or (2) an alternative fluid is known to be identical (enough ;-) ), or thought to be sufficiently better / cheaper / more convenient.

Moving past the quantitative chemical analysis, I do rely on trusted user recommendations, such as those from Odyfamily. (I followed his advice on my TruCool 4544 coolers too).

As a counterexample, I still use Genuine Honda Power Steering Fluid. Aftermarket alternatives don't quite warrant the move from using the Genuine stuff, so I still use that.
 

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The person that posted the article on BITOG is an actual Tribologist that has decades of blending experience. His word is as close to gospel as anything you’ll find on the internet. If he posted it, it will be 100% accurate.
 

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I bet Honda had a few actual tribologists involved in the rollout of the ATs in '99, signing off on Z-1 as being just fine. We know how that worked out.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
ok, two more weeks has passed. The ATF smell inside is almost gone now; I guess I did spill some while I was changing. It's faint, but it is still there.
The transmission condition, there is bit of 'jerking' at low gear (10~15mph) as if it's having hard time finding the right gear. It only happens when ATF is pretty hot (toward the end of the driving after ~2 hours of driving home through NYC rush hour).
Knowing Honda transmission is bit 'weak' and it only happens rarely, I will live with it.
I will do another Maxlife ATF drain & fill after 4500 miles when I do next oil change.
 

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I bet Honda had a few actual tribologists involved in the rollout of the ATs in '99, signing off on Z-1 as being just fine. We know how that worked out.
You are assuming the Z-1 was what killed the transmissions and not their design. I think the trans was just inadequate to the task. My 2002 5 speed lived just fine with that fluid until Honda changed it. The last 3 or 4 changes were probably done with the Idemitsu Type H-Plus at the shop my son in law works at.

The main thing saving the transmissions in the vans of us old guys is frequent changes, not the specific type of fluid being used.
 

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So the MaxLife doesn't have the same composition of DW-1; that's good news! ;)

Our '16 seems to like MaxLife more betta than DW-1, it shifts smoother, less herky-jerky, etc. Time will tell I guess but I do appreciate the info and postings above.

If DW-1 is going to be used, just change it more often I guess.

I'm running MaxLife in both my cars at this point, and only about a month away from another trans flush on my '07 Avalon (next oil change and setup before Winter arrives).
 

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You are assuming the Z-1 was what killed the transmissions and not their design. I think the trans was just inadequate to the task. My 2002 5 speed lived just fine with that fluid until Honda changed it. The last 3 or 4 changes were probably done with the Idemitsu Type H-Plus at the shop my son in law works at.

The main thing saving the transmissions in the vans of us old guys is frequent changes, not the specific type of fluid being used.
No, I'm not assuming that at all.

Certainly a flawed AT design, for this application.

But I do assume that Honda knows more about it than anyone here or elsewhere on the interwebs. Mainly because in addition to the scientific understanding, they have full access to the design engineering and data from failed transmissions. They replaced Z-1 with DW-1 as one countermeasure they could take. So similar professional Ph.D. tribologists who originally thought that Z-1 would be good later decided that it was not as good as they thought, and that DW-1 would be better.

And briefly the main point I'm making is that experts are not infallible. They often disagree with eachother. Some are right, some wrong, some corrected, some change their minds when presented with more information.
 
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