1. Welcome to PlowSite. Notice a fresh look and new features? It’s now easier to share photos and videos, find popular topics fast, and enjoy expanded user profiles. If you have any questions, click HELP at the top or bottom of any page, or send an email to help@plowsite.com. We welcome your feedback.

    Dismiss Notice

Auto Trans. Fluid?

Discussion in 'Western Plows Discussion' started by MIAWPUKEK, Jan 25, 2006.


    MIAWPUKEK Senior Member
    Messages: 267

    Right now I'm using automatic transmission fluid in my pump. Is that okay? I wanted to replace it this year with real Western Hydrolic Fluid, but everyone, including the dealer says the trans. fluid is fine.

    What's everyone else using???
  2. mmwb

    mmwb Senior Member
    from wyoming
    Messages: 114

    If you do a search, I think you'll find many do and Western indicates it for many models. It is reputed to be more sluggish when well below zero, though I haven't noticed it in my old cable operated conventional at -25.
  3. LINY Rob

    LINY Rob Senior Member
    Messages: 478

    I had ATF in my meyer, that lasted over 25 years, I have ATF in my western, for the difference in the price of the fluid I can change it more often, plus im not a slave to the dealer for the fluid.

    I never noticed my meyer run slow when it was really cold out, and that was a tired old thing. Maybe it just doesnt get cold enough for me to notice? I seem to think no matter what fluid is in there if its THAT cold out anything will be sluggish at first. I think its one of those things everyone reads everyone else say so they just repeat what they read.

    I figure if its good enough for a complicated transmission its good enough for a plow.
  4. yooper.mi

    yooper.mi Senior Member
    Messages: 154

    Bought a used Western Pro and plowed 11 seasons with it. I always used ATF in it and never had a fluid related problem with it.
  5. timberjack

    timberjack Member
    Messages: 96

    I can say from my experience, that when the temp gets below -30 degrees, the type of fluid does make a difference. One winter i put Castrol syntec ATF in my Western unimount, (sold last fall after 9 seasons). When the coldest part of winter hit, i could tell right away something wasn't the same, ie:sluggish operation. I also got a lot of whining from the pump all the time, even after i thought it should have been warmed up from use. I switched back the next day to the Western fluid, and it acted like i was used to. I try not to have to even leave the house if it's extremely cold anyway, but sometimes it can't be helped.

    I don't think it's gonna hurt anything, and if extreme cold isn't a concern, like this winter so far, ATF should do you fine. I keep a gallon of the western fluid around in case a fitting backs off, but never had a problem yet.

    To each their own.
  6. BigRedBarn

    BigRedBarn Senior Member
    Messages: 133

    When I asked the local Western installer, he said: "We put GM ATF in all our new installs."

    Then he continued... "And you shouldn't mix fluids as there could be some sort of chemical breakdown with mixed fluids or some such thing you don't want to have to deal with... plus, you never get all the old fluid out, so whatever fluid was put into the plow system when new should be continued on each yearly changeout."

    Further, he said: "You must change fluid every Fall to get out any moisture that may be in the system to prevent that water/moisture from freezing."

    Oh great, an authorized Weatern installer who uses semi-cheap ATF (compared to the Weatern juice), doesn't mention it to his customers when they get their new plow, and, this is the best part, pockets the savings over using the Western fluid, etc., etc. And then says you should never mix the fluids and, thus, you are stuck with always using whatever the dealer originally put in the system (which they might not have ever mentioned to you).

    Am I the only one who is a bit steamed by this info???

    What's worse, I bought one of those Weatern emergency repair kits (comes in a small plastic toolbox) which contains one bottle of the Western fluid (which I can't ever use, per the authorized Weatern dealer).

    [By the way, why wasn't the Weatern repair kit added to the poll on accessories? Or rubber blades (which I really like... prevents rust spots on the concrete driveways... mines a bright-yellow urethane)? Just wondering.]

    Anyone care to discuss this fluid business what with authorized Western dealers (listed on the Western web site as authorized) using ATF in new installs and keeping the profits? As far as I'm concerned, if they use ATF they should pass on the savings to the plow buyer!!!
  7. SnoFarmer

    SnoFarmer PlowSite Fanatic
    from N,E. MN
    Messages: 9,883

    Your dealer is full of it:nod:
    When you FLUSH out your system every year you will remove 95% or more of your old fluid if you do it correctly Then it's o.k. to refill with the hyd fluid of your choice.
  8. yooper.mi

    yooper.mi Senior Member
    Messages: 154

    How do you drain fluid so you get 95% of the fluid out. Dealer pointed to drain plug said drain and refill. What about the rams and lift ram?
  9. BigRedBarn

    BigRedBarn Senior Member
    Messages: 133

    SnoFarmer said "flush."

    I'm not sure how that's done on a plow setup.

    A car's radiator, sure I know how to flush, but I'm lost when it comes to a flush on a plow's hydraulics.

    Can you help us on how to flush, at least without doing a lot of disconnecting and such? Thanks in advance.

    New edit: By the way, I would think that there are a few techies from Western who frequent this section of the site. How's about hearing from them on this subject... AND WITHOUT GIVING THE STANDARD, LAWYERIZED SCHPEEL FROM THE COMPANY!!!

    New edit #2: Hey, how do y'all like my new plowing machine (in the avatar)???!!! Huh???!!! Ain't she a beaut???!!! Yeah, it's a bit cold when plowing, but I don't have to register it & put plates on it and insure the crap out of it... saves a lot on overhead, doncha know. OK, OK I really don't use it to plow. I'm a wuss who doesn't like to get out of a nice, warm truck cab!!!
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2006
  10. SnoFarmer

    SnoFarmer PlowSite Fanatic
    from N,E. MN
    Messages: 9,883

    Do this only after you have drained and filed the res.....
    To drain the rams.
    Angel the blade to one side. Put a drain pan under the ram that is extended. Then loosen the fitting on the ram and slowly push the ram all of the way back in. (you can just push on the plow.) tighten the fitting back up. Do the same thing on the other side. For the lift rams put a jack under the plow loosen the fittin(s) and raise the plow with the jack. Tighten the fittings back up. Run the plow back and forth and up and down to get the air out and Remember to cheek and add fluid as needed.
    It is a good idea to add this step to your annual drain and fill schedule.
    You can gat a flushing solvent from Meyer or you can use some thing ealse.

    Tip: there is a trick involving a can, a hose, and some new hyd fluid.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2006
  11. LINY Rob

    LINY Rob Senior Member
    Messages: 478

    technically- the fluid is not included in the sale, everything in a plow purchase is seperate- remember the "package" is pieced together according to what truck you have, what lights are in that truck, etc...

    now if they are charging more for a service compared to another western dealer then I guess you can gripe about it.
    I dont think western fluid is that much more money, I just thing the dealer rapes you in the behind for buying it from them, im sure they more then double thier money on it- where else are you going to get it from?
  12. SnoFarmer

    SnoFarmer PlowSite Fanatic
    from N,E. MN
    Messages: 9,883

    Any where:nod: You can use Boss fluid, aw-32 hydraulic fluid, the blue stuff, any high grade hydraulic fluid with a low pour temp. sno-way fluid, atf ect.ect
    Q. Do you still use your trucks MFG oil? I bet you put a different oil, when you change the oil in your truck.

    MIAWPUKEK Senior Member
    Messages: 267

    My bad BIGRED, I was just trying to think of as many accessories as I could of the top of my head. Next time!:drinkup:
  14. LINY Rob

    LINY Rob Senior Member
    Messages: 478

    If I use anybody's fluid I still have to drive to a dealer, which for me is almost 1/2 hour trip each way, I have 5 autoparts stores within 5 minutes of my house, they are open late and open on Sunday as well.

    Not a factor for me, it just doesnt get and stay that cold here, last year when we had a cold spell for like 20 days where it didnt get above 20 degrees during the day and single digits at night the plow still acted flawlessly.
  15. glenspot

    glenspot Senior Member
    Messages: 255

    I use trans fluid in my unimount also.

    I did notice it as being VERY sluggish in EXTREMELY cold weather (It was so cold that morning, my rotators wouldn't turn until the light warmed them)..

    But for the most part, trans fluid is just simply fine.

  16. rayf268

    rayf268 Senior Member
    Messages: 117

    If I switch to useing ATF should I flush out the old or is just draing it good enough . What type does everyone use when I buy oil lately I have been useing cheap walmart brand and just changing more often. Is that fine or should I use good ATF.
  17. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,993

    Western recommends ATF in their cable pumps. The internal gates on the manual valves are much larger then those of the electric solenoid valves.
    They recommend "Western High Performance" fluid for their electric controlled pumps.

    The disadvantages of ATF.
    heating then cooling will separate the paraffin from the fluids causing clogging in the filters and screens around the gates (valves, solenoid, whatever.)

    because of it's higher viscosity (it's thicker) ATF requires more amperage to spin the pump. This causes more rapid drain on the battery, and greater wear to the pump and motor.

    because of it's higher viscosity (it's thicker) ATF moves slower though the ports, slowing the lift, drop and angle speeds.

    It is more hygroscopic then the aircraft hydraulics fluid that is recommended by the manufacturers increasing the water content because of the higher absorption rates.

    It has a greater propensity for foaming then the Aircraft hydraulic fluid.

    I can buy ATF much cheaper then Snoway fluid, even the cheap blue stuff Buyers sells is twice the price of ATF. Personal experience with about every type of fluid has me ponying up for the good stuff. It has anti foaming agents, and lubricants the cheap stuff lacks. It's cleaner and faster then ATF.

    Kind of like drinking the house brand verses Makers Mark" you can taste the deference. But if you go to the bar and drink shots of "Old Shoe" because "Jack" cost too much, use the ATF it will do the job. Just not as well.
  18. LB1234

    LB1234 Member
    Messages: 91

    I change my fluid annually and haven't had any issues except for once. I decided to save twenty bucks on the 4 quarts or whatever it is and use the ATF. I had to have my pan dropped and the filter inlet screen cleaned of all the gunk that formed in it. Was a real pain in the arse. I since stuck to the western high performance. I just make sure when I go to the dealer I buy a case of it. Still have enough left over from last year to change one of the plows out.

    No harm meant with the post, to each there own...it just seems like a funny argument. Is spending an additional 20 dollars a year for the western or whatever name brand fluid really going to break your bank? I believe that is all that it is. I can see if you have something like 10 plows but for one or two plows I can't see the big deal. :waving:
  19. LINY Rob

    LINY Rob Senior Member
    Messages: 478

    I put ATF in my Western plow when I put it together because the dealer forgot to give it to me.

    I did not feel like driving 30 minutes to go get it, so I figured "heck, I have ATF in my 25 year old Meyer plow and its still going strong, just use it in this one"

    I ran that same fluid for 2 years, never changed it.

    I just had my plow serviced last week, the dealer showed me the fluid and could not believe how clean it was, the screens or filters or whatever looked brand new he said.

    So either im REALLY REALLY lucky, or the whole ATF versus Meyer or Western fluid arguement is a myth.
    My plow works fast and has never slowed down in cold or heavy use, maybe it doesnt get cold enough for me to see the difference?

    For me its not a matter of cost, its a matter of convience, and if I ever get off my lazy ass I also figure I can change my fluid 2-3 times for the cost of one fluid change with OEM fluid.

    The whole point of being out in the freezing cold dark of night is to make money isnt it?
  20. LINY Rob

    LINY Rob Senior Member
    Messages: 478

    damm, I did not even look at the rest of the thread, I already replied to this one once before:jester:

    I say just stick with what you have, dont switch once a certain fluid is in there