Mercon / Dexron ATF specs v-confusing – what’s the deal??
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Thread: Mercon / Dexron ATF specs v-confusing – what’s the deal??

  1. #1
    Senior Biker
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    Jan 2004
    Melbourne (formerly Ireland)

    Mercon / Dexron ATF specs v-confusing – what’s the deal??

    Have a 2001 Mazda Tribute with 3.0l V6 with a 4 speed auto tranny & 170,00km on the clocks now. The Tribute is basically a rebadged Ford Escape so uses the same engine/gearbox combo. The gearbox is a Frod CD4E which is apparently notorious for getting stuck in gear (which is a $4000 repair) if you’re unlucky enough to get a bad one or if it’s been abused. Obviously we don’t want that so I’m trying to do some preventative maintenance to avoid such anguish which will include a fluid & filter change, & does of Auto Transmission additive & possibly a Transmission Cooler as I plan to tow some bike in the near future. See tranny cooler post here

    Now here’s the fun part – longish read. I’ve never owned an automatic before so am only learning about the ATF now. Apparently the box originally was speced with Mercon ATF (like most Fords of that era I gather). GM vehicle used Dexron 3 & they weren’t compatible. Now since 2000 & before 2006 Ford released Mercon V & GM Dexron IV for their new generation of 5 & 6 speed boxes which are supposed to be fully backwards compatible with older boxes. The license on Mercon & Dexron 3 name has since lapsed & Ford/GM didn’t pick them up again so they aren’t available as OEM ATF anymore.

    Here’s where it gets confusing now…

    I went to Supercheap the other day & couldn’t find Mercon grade oil. I found Valvoline DX3 (Dexron 3 I assume) which said it was suitable for most 4 speed Ford auto boxes on the container. I bought it before I did any research but can easily return it & get a refund. From what I’ve read on the net since using the worng grade ATF means a short life for your box so I’m thinking using the DX3 is a bad idea no matter what it says on the contrainer. I went to the Valvoline website to get confirmation their DX3 ATF was suitable for my gearbox but couldn’t find my car in their suitability lists. Then I went through their ATF products & found that besides offering the newer Mercon V & Dexron IV (no Mercon or Dexron 3 available anymore) they also offer some Dex/Merc dual purpose ATF & also a ‘Max Life’ version for high mileage boxes (over 120,000km).

    I don’t know what to think really. How are you supposed to decipher this jargon & figure out what oil is best?? Anybody??!!

    Valvoline Dex/Merc

    Valvoline ‘Max Life’ Dex/Merc

    Valvoline Mercon V

  2. #2
    Ace Aduro's Avatar
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    Join Date
    Mar 2010

    RE: Mercon / Dexron ATF specs v-confusing – what’s the deal??

    Walk into a freakin repco and have them look in either the penrite or Castrol book for the correct fluid. Fuckin supercheap, they know nothing. It's the job of an auto store to advise you on the correct parts for your vehicle

  3. #3
    Senior Biker
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    Join Date
    Nov 2007

    RE: Mercon / Dexron ATF specs v-confusing – what’s the deal??

    go here, type in the mazda tribute, go down to the 3l 4x4 (cant link to the result)

    the castrol recomended oil is dexron3... id be using that. Its what id be using at work for it

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