Mercon vs. Mercon V

And they will come bearing opinions, based on what has worked for them. It can get confusing, given that there are several types of the same in the market. Thus, choosing what is right for you is not necessarily a walk in the park.

Transmission fluids fall into different grades, and they thus have varying specs and properties. One way to decide what works best for you is to go through the owner’s manual. Here, you will find in-depth details of what specs you should use.

This article will focus on the selection process of transmission fluids before differentiating MERCON and MERCON V. Thus, if you have had questions about this in the past, it is about time you got some satisfactory answers.

What types are available?

When you research these fluids by asking people and engaging users on forums, you will realize that the options are endless. It owes to the use of varying specs resulting from different ingredients and additives. That is why you cannot use anything that you find on the market. You have to think about what is compatible with your vehicle. In this way, you can get properties such as lubrication and protection from rust, wear, and corrosion. Some additives will not work with your model, and you can end up doing more harm than good by using them.

Most people use MERCON and DEXRON. These fluid specs have been in the market for a while and are recommended by most car manufacturers. Below are the options at present:

Type F

In the ’70s, this fluid type was a big hit as most cars used it. Over time, its use in vehicles reduced, and you will not come across it in many models. It does not have friction modifiers, which are highly important in today’s vehicles. But when it comes to vintage cars, this is the way to go.


Is MERCON V the same as Dexron? Many people have asked this question in forums in the hope of getting a clear picture of what both options involve. Well, these two products are widespread, and they bear similar standards. As such, people often use them interchangeably, but they are not the same. Their properties may be highly similar, but they have specific distinct differences. They both have friction modifiers, and this makes them suitable for use in modern-day cars. These two are of a high grade, and many other products on the market borrow heavily from them.


This acronym stands for highly friction modified. This fluid works best for vehicles that experience high friction, and there is thus a need to reduce the resistance. 


These products are also quite common on the market, and they bear similar features to MERCON. They offer added resistance to harsh temperatures while protecting the system from friction and oxidation. They are available from aftermarket brands and are often the costly alternative.

When it comes down to it, the choice of transmission fluid will depend on the make of your car. Find out what your manufacturer requires of you and follow through with this. Sometimes, you may think that taking a shortcut will save you money, only to damage your car.

The good thing is that there are many options on the market. Take MERCON as an example. It has many variations to it, which you can sometimes use interchangeably. And this brings us to the question: Is MERCON V backwards compatible? The answer is yes. That means that you can use V on a car that needs III. How great is that? Note that they are not forwards compatible, and you cannot use III on a vehicle that needs V. Know what works for your car and stick to it. For MERCON V, suitable makes include the Lincoln, Mercury, and Ford.

Note that changing the transmission fluid is of the essence. When you fail to do this, the oil starts losing its efficiency owing to prolonged exposure to heat and contaminants.


Why do you need a transmission fluid? Well, by now, you probably know that this fluid works in lubricating surfaces to protect them from wear, rust, and corrosion. But what else can you expect of this fluid?

For one, it comes in handy in cleaning as well as protecting metal surfaces. You thus extend their longevity and can do away with the need for replacements in the near future — secondly, the fluid works in extending the rotational speed and the range of temperature. You will have more options to work with this way. Have you ever heard of fluids oxidizing or foaming up while they are in use?

If you have, then you know that the situation can get terrible fast. With a suitable transmission fluid in play, you can keep this from happening. The properties of the fluid will significantly influence how well it works. When you choose what works for you, the fluid’s life will be long, and you should see an increase in cooling ability. Also, you can say goodbye to high temperatures when the fluid works at its optimum — additionally, the fluid works in the conditioning of gaskets.

Selection Process

Now you know why you need a transmission fluid and how the variations work. But you are yet to figure out what would work for your car. At this point, you need to pay attention to the type of vehicle transmission. Is it automatic, or is it manual? Either way, you will need to replace the fluid and gasket often and to service the car at regular intervals. In doing so, you will enjoy a smooth shift in gears as well as other benefits.

When dealing with an automatic car, you will require an automatic transmission fluid, abbreviated as ATF. This fluid will protect your vehicle from rust, lack of lubrication, and overheating. With it in place, you can forget about the accumulation of debris and can look forward to system efficiency. ATFs have a higher breakdown rate compared to manual fluids. The downside to this is that you will have to change the fluids more often than you would when using manual transmission.

For manual cars, you will find that maintenance is somewhat a breeze. Also, you have more options to consider since you can use synthetic oils, ATFs, manual fluids, and other such options. This flexibility opens you up to many options in the market as you have few limitations. Also, the frequency of fluid change is low. As such, you can choose products with long lives so that you can cut back on maintenance expenses.

How should you select a transmission fluid?

Well, here are the determinants that you should have in mind:

The Compatibility

When getting a fluid, think of whether it can work for your car. For people with many cars, it would help to get a fluid that works with most, if not all, the vehicles. Note that some products may not live up to their promises. Manufacturers will be quick to state that their fluid can work on a range of cars, only to find that it does not. You must practice a great deal of caution in the selection process by referring to your owner’s manual. If you have lost it, you can find the information on the car manufacturer’s website. You can then make a decision accordingly.

It also helps to note that there are variations in fluids. Take the example of the MERCON line. While you may think that MERCON will work just as well as MERCON V, this is not the case. On this note, let us focus on a common question: Is there a difference between MERCON and MERCON V?

Many people think that as long as MERCON is necessary, they can use either of the two. However, this could not be further from the truth. These fluids are dual usage, and you can thus not use them in automatic transmissions that call for MERCON products.

Do you remember where we touched on types of transmission? You need to be careful with this. However, where there is a need for MERCON V, you can use these fluids. Note, though, that they are not interchangeable, and you can thus not mix them.

Where you come across an automatic transmission that needs a MERCON product, and you use these two, you could damage the transmission. The same goes for using a product other than that which is necessary for the situation. You should also note that in older cars that need MERCON, you should not use MERCON V as it is newer and will not work with these cars. And for new vehicles, you should use the V as it can handle the tasks at hand.

Also, you need to keep the backwards compatibility in mind when using MERCON products. Compatibility is crucial, and you should not overlook this aspect.

The Type

You have the option of going for the standard fluids or going the synthetic way. The latter option will cost you more but will allow you to enjoy increased performance. It is also more resistant to high temperatures and will thus offer you more longevity. The former option will save you money regarding the initial purchase price. Note that with old cars, you will not have much of a choice when it comes to compatibility. As such, it is best to go with traditional options. Also, where you have not used synthetic fluids before, play it safe by going conventional.

Additives in play

These fluids feature ingredients that ensure that they remain stable while in operation. A good example would be in the prevention of oxidation, corrosion, and foaming, among other issues.

Note that the longer a fluid stays in your car, the more it breaks down. The viscosity changes, and you can no longer enjoy lubrication like you once did, tampering with the performance. Over time, the transmission could fail, and this is why you need a fluid with protective additives. In this way, the additives will protect both the fluid and the system. You can thus schedule the maintenances for fewer times than you would with a product that has no additives.


When using a fluid, you must think about how viscous it is compared to the needs of your vehicle. As much as low viscosity is a problem, a viscosity that is too high can lead to a failure in the system. Avoid such setbacks by having the specs you need at hand. Furthermore, you have to think about the frictional properties of the fluid you have in mind. In this way, you will get a product that will not slip when working against materials in the system.

The Brand

There are many options on the market with different manufacturers trying to get a fair share of the market. As such, you can get overwhelmed by the choices. Do not tie yourself to a given brand as it is always a good idea to explore, so long as you keep compatibility in mind. You may come across a good deal from a reputable brand when you think along this line. As long as the specs match with what you need, you will be safe.

Take MERCON as an example. At first, this name had a close association with automatic transmission fluids, given that this was what FORD did under this acronym. Later, the company diversified and brought in other products to the market, such as lubricants and gear oils. Now, this name is an umbrella for specs of transmission fluids under the FORD brand. This company has a long reputation for providing what the market needs, and given their experience, MERCON products are still on the rise.

The Cost

The price should be the last determinant when buying anything. Start by checking the compatibility, then moving to quality before using the price to narrow down the choices. This formula works for everything from transmission fluids to a pair of trousers. It ensures that you keep your eyes open, and you have a higher chance of bagging a good deal this way.

Bottom Line

Choosing the right fluid for your vehicle is highly important. Where you fail to do this, you run into problems such as wear and erratic shifting, which reduce your car’s performance. Understand what you need to avoid a trial and error path that could damage your system. That said, all the best of luck to you as you work on improving your transmission.

Editorial Staff

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