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ATF or Plow fluid?

Discussion in 'Western Plows Discussion' started by Chiputz, Sep 19, 2012.

  1. Chiputz

    Chiputz Senior Member
    Messages: 165

    Everyone seems to recommend using plow fluid in their rigs, but the Unimount I just picked up says to use ATF... I had a cable op plow for years and always used ATF with no problems as long as I changed out the fluid every Fall before I started using it. They both have the isarmatic pump set up, ATF should work fine right?
  2. Jim@esitrucks

    Jim@esitrucks Inactive
    Messages: 1,124

    So long as the temps you are plowing in dont get too low you will be ok, although plow fluid is always better
  3. nealybird

    nealybird Senior Member
    Messages: 750

    back in the day Western didn't even have plow fluid. so ATF won't kill it, but it doesn't work nearly as well as plow fluid when it gets cold out (which is kinda par for the course when it's snowing). :)
  4. Chiputz

    Chiputz Senior Member
    Messages: 165

    We get 250+ inches of snow every year, the temps drop to -20F wind chill for a couple days at a time. I don't have a local dealer near me and I am going to change the fluid out like my old plow every Fall. I think I'll run the ATF this winter and see, maybe next Spring I'll flush everything and go to plow fluid. I'm kind of behind the curve here right now, new plow rig, newer plow and I need to get the plow mount put on the truck as well as change the heater core in the dodge i picked up.. snow was in the air already yesterday so I guess I had better get my arse in gear...Thanks!
  5. nealybird

    nealybird Senior Member
    Messages: 750

    It was?! holy crap.
  6. Chiputz

    Chiputz Senior Member
    Messages: 165

    Yup, it was. Way too early but there it was. There have been years with Halloween trick or treaters in snow suits and then they've been in tee shirts and shorts...
  7. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,993

    ATF will work but the gates in the cable operated are like kitchen faucets compared to the openings in the electrically controlled solenoid valves and ATF is 11 times thicker than premium plow fluid at zero degrees. The thicker ATF will draw more amps, the plow will react slower, you will work the motor and pump harder than the thinner viscosity premium fluid.

    Other issues involving paraffin separation, etc can come into play as well.
  8. JCByrd24

    JCByrd24 Senior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 232

    Sounds like you have an underhood pump (cable op + it says to use ATF). If this is the case, you do want to use ATF or plain old hydraulic fluid. Plow fluid, which is far superior in electric pumps out in the weather, also has a relatively low flash point, and thus is not recommended for underhood pumps.

    If the pump is in fact electric out in the weather, yes ATF will work, but it will freeze more, draw more current, dim the lights more, kill you battery faster, and be slower. You might also need to change it more than once a year....try plow fluid, you'll love it.
  9. B&B

    B&B PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,777

    He mentioned it's a Uni, so of course it's an out front in the weather electric unit. For a number of years Western spec'd regular old ATF for them before seeing the light and began recommending dedicated plow fluid for all it's advantage you also mentioned.