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FiReSTaRT
Premium
join:2010-02-26
Canada
Reviews:
·Velcom

Honda fluids generic or mfr-branded?

I just picked up a 99 Civic and as a firm believer in RTFM, dug into the manual. Now, I'm quite surprised that the manual doesn't tell me that I should put "genuine Honda air" in the tires or they'll blow up and the rims will melt, so I wanted to check into what's mandatory and what I can use normal aftermarket fluids in.

1) Coolant.. Do I really need to use the Honda-branded stuff or will any major brand silicate-free aluminum engine-safe ethyline glycol coolant do the trick? As a former VW owner, I know some cars can be picky.

2) PS fluid.. Same diff.. Some dubs require manufacturer-specific stuff.. Hondas as well?

3) Transmission fluid - It looks like engine oil makes at least a temporary substitute to "genuine Honda MTF" and they seem to be more likely to recommend oils with fewer friction modifiers added - must have a wet clutch. Would any JASO-MA oil covering the right viscosity range do the trick there? Was thinking of running the Rotella T6 5w40 synthetic that has no friction modifiers added, has plenty of detergents, great film strength and can take the beating of a high-revving motorcycle engine

4) Brake fluid - Regular DOT3/4 stuff fine? Same goes for clutch fluid?

Thanks in advance for the info!
--
If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.
—George Bernard Shaw



Phoneman63

join:2001-02-22
Hauppauge, NY
Reviews:
·Optimum Online

I always use the Honda factory Anti-freeze and the A/T tranny fluid in my 2004 Accord LX. I've read in many forums that non-Honda tranny fluid has caused problems. It's my preference to use the AF also. Regarding the other fluids, I use national brands.
--
"Leave the gun, take the cannoli"



FiReSTaRT
Premium
join:2010-02-26
Canada
Reviews:
·Velcom
reply to FiReSTaRT

Ok, did a bit of googling and here are the answers for general reference:

1) Coolant - Any silicate free eth-glycol that's safe for aluminum engines - Prestone or Motomaster will do the trick

2) PS Fluid - Honda-branded stuff or fluid specially formulated for hondas. Note to CDN readers: Crappy tire has one available Bardahl for $6/355ml, close enough to Prestone pricing

3) Specific MTF is needed, but there are alternatives like Amsoil and even the Honda stuff is reasonably priced if you got the flexibility to deal with the stealership

4) Brake/clutch standard DOT3 stuff will do fine
--
If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.
—George Bernard Shaw


Bob4
Account deleted

join:2012-07-22
New Jersey
Reviews:
·Optimum Online

Except for the engine oil, you rarely have to replace fluids. So why not get the Honda fluids? The extra cost over the life of the car will be in the noise.

As someone who has owned several Hondas over the past 26 years, I can say that Hondas don't leak fluids. So you won't be buying any extra.



FiReSTaRT
Premium
join:2010-02-26
Canada
Reviews:
·Velcom

said by Bob4:

Except for the engine oil, you rarely have to replace fluids. So why not get the Honda fluids?

I don't like dealing with dealerships in general and I don't like making the extra trips.. In general I pick up what I need for an anticipated job when I'm at Crappy Tire anyway. That takes care of the coolant, ps fluid (they have Honda-formulated stuff) and clutch fluid. MTF I can get from the dealer.

Coolant has to be changed every couple of years to maintain the corrosion inhibitors and lubricants

Clutch fluid generally doesn't have to be changed but since it's el-cheapo DOT3, I can do it once every 100,000km, especially considering the low mileage I put on.

MTF ensures smooth shifts and less wear and tear on the tranny so I only have to anticipate clutch jobs and I don't expect to be changing out the clutch on this one for at least 100,000km more (the car has been babied, the clutch feels good and people that are harder on their clutches than I am get over 200,000.

Brake fluid in general should get done every couple of years as it picks up grit/moisture and loses effectiveness as a hydraulic fluid.

PS fluid looks good on this one but it's easy to flush so I might as well do it once and not worry about it for as long as I own the car.

All of the work will take me half of an afternoon with plenty of beer breaks
--
If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.
—George Bernard Shaw

Bob4
Account deleted

join:2012-07-22
New Jersey

Should be 3 years for coolant and brake fluid.



CylonRed
Premium,MVM
join:2000-07-06
Bloom County

3 years fit into the couple of years mentioned...



Hall
Premium,MVM
join:2000-04-28
Germantown, OH
kudos:2
reply to FiReSTaRT

I just asked this today of a local dealer's parts department. I need some brake fluid and have some Prestone brand DOT3/4 and wanted to know what to do, so I called them. They nicely acknowledged that for brake fluid he said to use name-brand stuff, not $0.99 stuff, engine oil is the same. He did say that for power steering and transmission, you should use Honda-branded fluids.



Emptydarkone
Premium
join:2002-05-06
Springfield, IL
kudos:1
reply to FiReSTaRT

Take this for what it's worth, but I have a co-worker that had his Honda serviced at a local quick change oil shop. The did a trans flush and did not use Honda ATF. $1,600 later, he has a 'new' used transmission in his Honda. He did use genuine Honda ATF in the new tranny. When the old one started acting up, he called the dealership service department, and they told him there is a history of people not using the genuine fluids and having problems crop up.
--
As areas of knowledge grow, so too do the perimeters of ignorance. - Neil deGrasse Tyson


Bob4
Account deleted

join:2012-07-22
New Jersey

I have all my work done at my Honda dealer, so I have no idea about the costs involved. But over a 3-period, how much could you possibly save by using generic fluids (other than engine oil)? And is it being penny wise and pound foolish?



FiReSTaRT
Premium
join:2010-02-26
Canada
Reviews:
·Velcom

said by Bob4:

I have all my work done at my Honda dealer, so I have no idea about the costs involved. But over a 3-period, how much could you possibly save by using generic fluids (other than engine oil)? And is it being penny wise and pound foolish?

Sometimes it's about the convenience of buying elsewhere or buying a superior product for my vehicle. For my MTF change I'll have to get the washers for the drain/fill bolts at the stealership anyway, but many Honda owners who have used both Honda and Amsoil MTF prefer Amsoil, for example. Or, if I see Prestone, which has been well-reviewed in Honda engines on sale just as I'm picking up some tools at Crappy Tire, why not pick it up and use it when I do my cooling system flush? Same goes for brake fluid which is also used in the hydraulic system for the clutch.

That is why I asked what can be safely substituted and what can't be. It's not as if Honda owns refineries or chemical plant. Their branded fluids have to be manufactured by others to their specs.
--
If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.
—George Bernard Shaw


ilikeme
I live in a van down by the river.
Premium
join:2002-08-27
Sugar Land, TX
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Vonage
reply to Emptydarkone

said by Emptydarkone:

Take this for what it's worth, but I have a co-worker that had his Honda serviced at a local quick change oil shop. The did a trans flush and did not use Honda ATF. $1,600 later, he has a 'new' used transmission in his Honda. He did use genuine Honda ATF in the new tranny. When the old one started acting up, he called the dealership service department, and they told him there is a history of people not using the genuine fluids and having problems crop up.

Same thing happened with our 2002 Odyssey. My 2012 CR-V gets all of its service done at the dealer now, even though it is more expensive.
--

Fiber Optics is the future of high-speed internet access. Stop by the BBR Fiber Optic Forum


cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7
reply to FiReSTaRT

said by FiReSTaRT:

That is why I asked what can be safely substituted and what can't be. It's not as if Honda owns refineries or chemical plant. Their branded fluids have to be manufactured by others to their specs.

The issue though is that it is their specs, and not anyone else's. Honda's contract(s) with their supplier(s) may prohibit them from selling the exact same fluid to another brand under a different name. Or perhaps other manufacturers don't want to spend the time or money developing an equivalent fluid that has the same characteristics and have it certified as such. Or maybe Honda doesn't want to release it's specs to allow 3rd parties to certify their product.

Requiring the use of OEM fluids can not be a requirement of the warranty by federal law, nor can they automatically void your warranty or deny a warranty claim if you do use non-OEM fluids. In the event that there is an issue on a covered part and non-OEM fluids, it's up to the manufacturer (or it's agent) to prove that the use of a non-OEM fluid contributed to the defect and did not meet it's specification. Having a very specific fluid formula like Honda does for some fluids is kind of a work around to this law. GM has done similar with it's Dexos engine oil but there are a few aftermarket brands that have licensed the formulation or spec.

There is ample evidence all over the internet that Bad Things™ can happen if you don't use Honda-speced fluids for certain components. I know for sure that the power steering fluid and ATF are two of them as I've researched those things for my 07 Accord. Unfortunately you're stuck spending a little extra and going a little out of your way to get the specific fluids. The good thing is that they are normally lower-maintenance items so you're not doing it all that often.


FiReSTaRT
Premium
join:2010-02-26
Canada
Reviews:
·Velcom

Honda has a big market, so others can reverse-engineer the stuff that sells. Coolant was unnecessary as they already use garden-variety stuff. PS fluid has been done by various manufacturers. MTF has even been beaten (not by a lot) and we know about brake/clutch fluids. They can't redesign every fluid out there and set up a supply chain to feed all their owners.

Could be worse.. Some VW's require VW-certified oil (made by Castrol), PS fluid AND coolant.

I've been told that bad things will happen if I don't go the OEM way on many occasions. In some cases it would have been true, in others I've found much better-performing products that were at a fraction of the price and a lot easier to get. The trick is to take every instance where the manufacturer tells you the world will end if you don't use their stuff and ask "why"
--
If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.
—George Bernard Shaw



cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7

2 recommendations

said by FiReSTaRT:

I've been told that bad things will happen if I don't go the OEM way on many occasions. In some cases it would have been true, in others I've found much better-performing products that were at a fraction of the price and a lot easier to get. The trick is to take every instance where the manufacturer tells you the world will end if you don't use their stuff and ask "why"

It's not just Honda that manufacturer that recommends it. Go to most any Honda forum and ask if people recommend Honda Z-1/DW-1 or Brand XYZ and they will almost always recommend using the OEM fluid. Here is an example for instance. In fact, that thread even mentioned that they contacted Castrol to see if their import ATF was for use as a Z-1 replacement. Castrol wrote back that they recommend the genuine fluid and that while their fluid met performance specs, it wasn't OEM approved.

I was in Advance Auto this evening and looked at the price for a quart of ATF while I was in there. The cheapest they had was Valvoline at $6.49 and had no mention of Z-1 specs. There were several brands at $7 that mentioned Z-1.

MSRP on the Honda fluid, from Honda, is about $8.20.

Are people really quibbling over $3.60 every few years? I can understand doing it over $2.99 dino oil vs. $9 Mobil-1 every 3 months. But really? Come on...


Juggernaut
Irreverent or irrelevant?
Premium
join:2006-09-05
Kelowna, BC
kudos:2

I gave up quibbling about Mobil 1 prices (or Amsoil etc.) ages ago. The same with 3 cents a liter for fuel. Big deal. I use pure gas, and a good synthetic oil.

You're quite correct in holding the position that some things are just false economy. I refuse to risk catastrophic failure of an expensive component because of a few dollars. It's just not worth it.
--
"I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots." ~ Albert Einstein



cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7

said by Juggernaut:

I gave up quibbling about Mobil 1 prices (or Amsoil etc.) ages ago. The same with 3 cents a liter for fuel. Big deal. I use pure gas, and a good synthetic oil.

You're quite correct in holding the position that some things are just false economy. I refuse to risk catastrophic failure of an expensive component because of a few dollars. It's just not worth it.

I chuckle at the people that will drive across town in their SUV so that they will save $.04 on 15 gallons of gas.

It doesn't hurt though to shop around looking for a deal as part of your normal shopping though. Advance had Mobil 1 for $9/qt, while Wal-mart that I already drive by every day has the exact same oil in a 5qt jug for $26.


Juggernaut
Irreverent or irrelevant?
Premium
join:2006-09-05
Kelowna, BC
kudos:2

Absolutely. If you see a good deal, buy it and save the cash. You'll use the oil eventually. As for the gas price idiots, I have to laugh.
--
"I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots." ~ Albert Einstein



Hall
Premium,MVM
join:2000-04-28
Germantown, OH
kudos:2
reply to cdru

A downside of requiring "special" fluids is where you can get work done. How many non-Honda-dealer garages stock Honda fluids ? Even something as simple as a place that changes your oil and checks the other fluids, i.e. power steering or transmission, but may not be able to top it off if low.



FiReSTaRT
Premium
join:2010-02-26
Canada
Reviews:
·Velcom

said by Hall:

A downside of requiring "special" fluids is where you can get work done. How many non-Honda-dealer garages stock Honda fluids ? Even something as simple as a place that changes your oil and checks the other fluids, i.e. power steering or transmission, but may not be able to top it off if low.

That is my biggest issue (mostly along the lines of being stuck in the sticks or on a road trip where I don't have my garage handy). At least now I've learned the following:

1) If a brake line bursts and gets replaced while I'm in the sticks, Bubba can use regular DOT3 stuff and I won't have to do a flush when I get home

2) If a coolant hose craps out on me, I can ghetto it fixed and top it off with the regular Prestone stuff and not worry about having to flush the cooling system. Also I can use regular distilled water and don't have to use Honda (R) brand distilled water

3) If I develop a PS fluid leak, I can keep myself going with Honda-spec stuff available at any Crappy Tire but not the ATF that I'm used to using as psf

4) If any major tranny work has to be done, there better be a Honda dealer or an Amsoil dealer in town or I should start looking for a motel
--
If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.
—George Bernard Shaw


Juggernaut
Irreverent or irrelevant?
Premium
join:2006-09-05
Kelowna, BC
kudos:2

Use DOT 4, as it has a higher boiling point. It's better under severe conditions.



Hall
Premium,MVM
join:2000-04-28
Germantown, OH
kudos:2
reply to FiReSTaRT

Mind you, some garages will have Honda-branded products. I've even seen them at quick-change places -- they charge extra for them, of course. On the other hand, they should since the others they're buying in much higher volumes.

Another Honda-unique thing is their recommendation on transmission servicing. Honda says "drain and refill" and they don't mean drain ALL of it. They do say to do this more often than other makers. They also insist to NOT "power-flush" the transmission. Try and get a non-Honda shop to drain/refill though. Good luck.... even if you bring the ATF fluid. They'll insist on using their new, expensive, super-duper transmission-flush machine no matter what and assure you it will be fine.



Cho Baka
Premium,MVM
join:2000-11-23
there
kudos:2
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL
reply to Juggernaut

said by Juggernaut:

Use DOT 4, as it has a higher boiling point. It's better under severe conditions.

I would not recommend this. I have seen issues when dot 4 is used in a vehicle that was originally filled with dot 3.
--
The talented hawk speaks French.


Juggernaut
Irreverent or irrelevant?
Premium
join:2006-09-05
Kelowna, BC
kudos:2

Interesting. I've never heard of, or seen a problem using DOT 4. Any specifics vehicles?



Cho Baka
Premium,MVM
join:2000-11-23
there
kudos:2

3 different manufacturers that I have seen.

Keep in mind that the number of vehicles that I saw with issues from this was small.
--
The talented hawk speaks French.



Juggernaut
Irreverent or irrelevant?
Premium
join:2006-09-05
Kelowna, BC
kudos:2

For reference, can you let us know what they were? Might save someone from some problems.



FiReSTaRT
Premium
join:2010-02-26
Canada
reply to FiReSTaRT

The DOT3-->DOT4 one is weird.. I thought 4 was backward-compatible with 3. What are those vehicles?

As for those flushes, I'm not a big believer in them. When I change out the MTF, it'll be a straight up drain-refill.



Cho Baka
Premium,MVM
join:2000-11-23
there
kudos:2
reply to FiReSTaRT

One was a Honda, one a Lexus, and one a (cough) old Yamaha.
--
The talented hawk speaks French.



FiReSTaRT
Premium
join:2010-02-26
Canada
Reviews:
·Velcom

said by Cho Baka:

One was a Honda, one a Lexus, and one a (cough) old Yamaha.

Could have been a freak occurrence with the Yami.. I had one that would match the description (91 fizzer) and ran DOT4 in it for years, no issues. Instead of Yamalube, it was Rotella 5w40 or Esso XD-3 0w40 while it was on the market (both diesel synthetics without friction modifiers) and $2-3 Supertech ST-7317 filters that I cleaned 3 Wal Marts out of before running back to our side of the border (Champion elements, no different than the $20 OEM "motorcycle-specific" filters).
--
If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.
—George Bernard Shaw


cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7
reply to FiReSTaRT

said by FiReSTaRT:

As for those flushes, I'm not a big believer in them. When I change out the MTF, it'll be a straight up drain-refill.

Most of the MTF I've worked with were more or less completely drained when you changed the MTF. Automatics however hold a considerable amount in the torque converter and other inaccessible places that require multiple manual flushes or a "power flush" to remove it all.

Also, check your owners manual if alternative fluids are acceptable in an emergency. My Accord's manual states that Honda ATF should be used, but Dexron/Merc can be used but should be flushed as soon as reasonably possible.