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ATF Questions

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Probationary Member
Aug 24, 2002
I have a quick question bout ATF. If you put it in your crank case will it cause a smoking condition. I've heard people do it for getting lifters to stop ticking but wouldn't that cause it to smoke. If so why does it smoke? I mean isn't ATF just high detergent oil? I really just wanna know is if you didn't change your oil and ran ATF wouldn't it smoke? A buddy of mine are arguing bout this but any help would be apreciated

you can add it to your engine oil to help clean the engine and help to relieve lifter tick. However, I wouldnt drive the car with atf in the engine simply because of the fact that it cannot protect your engine as well as motor oil can.

I have never had my car smoke with atf in it. I dont let it get sucked into the intake and get burnt as some do though.
ATF isn't meant for crankcases, otherwise it would be called motor oil. The reason it works to clean the engines is because it thins out the mix. You don't want to drive it like that, as stanfosd said, and you definitely don't want to consider it a 'fix'. It's not.

If you have bad lifter tick, clean and/or replace the lifters.
Transmission fluid is thinner type of oil. Pour the two on a smooth uneven surface and watch the transmission fluid flow quicker than the motor oil.

The reason why it may smoke is because it is thinner. It's able to leak by valve stem seals, possibly piston rings, and since it's lighter it may be sucked in to the pcv system easier.

The ATF for a lifter tick is meant to be run very short term, frequently right before the oil change, to get the lifters to pump back up. The lighter, thinner fluid makes it easier for the lifters to flow fluid.
If you want to use ATF in the sump to clean out lifters, I'd say to get lifter cleaner instead and use it. ATF has friction modifiers to help the brake bands in the sloshbox grip, and its film strength is _much_ lower than motor oil, which is very bad for your cams. And all that said, it's been a shadetree trick for lifter cleaning for as long as it's been around. As well as a damping fluid for SU carbs.

[Motor oil is unsuitable for a hydraulic fluid due to its high viscosity and its effect on rubber and nitryl seals used in hydraulic systems. It's no more nor less measurably compressible than any other liquid.]
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