Honda ATF-Z1 VS DW1 VS Dexron III

The drivetrain of any vehicle requires different fluids for proper workflow. Automatic transmission fluid (ATF) is one of the most important fluids for maintaining the transmission system performance.

ATF manages lubrication, maintains an optimum temperature, and establishes a connection between the transmission and the engine. Many critical operations of the transmission system rely on this fluid. Hence, selecting the right ATF is of utmost importance.

However, there are tons of different types of ATF available from many brands. As a result, car owners often get confused about which ATF will be suitable for their vehicle.

Honda ATF-Z1 VS DW1 VS Dexron III

Well, the most popular ATF’s on the market are Honda ATF-Z1, DW1, and Dexron iii. But how to know which of these is appropriate for your vehicle?

Don’t worry. To help you, we’re here to discuss the differences between Honda ATF-Z1 vs DW1 vs Dexron III. Go through the guide to learn all about these ATF’s to decide which one is good for your vehicle.

Honda ATF-Z1 VS DW1 VS Dexron III

To draw a proper distinction regarding Honda ATF DW1 vs Z1 vs Dexron iii you need to know the basics of these fluids first. So, let’s begin.

Honda ATF-Z1 Automatic Transmission Fluid

Z1 automatic transmission fluid is the first original ATF from Honda. Manufacturers used highly refined mineral oil as the base for creating this transmission oil.

The viscosity index of Z1 ATF is 215.5. The temperature in the Honda transmission system is generally higher. This transmission liquid reaches 7.64 cSt viscosity at 100°C. Meaning the viscosity doesn’t change much even with temperature shifts. However, this fluid will freeze at -50°C.

Like other automatic transmission oils, the Z1 transmission fluid is red in color. It becomes a darker brown with time and pollution. For maintaining proper performance, you should change this oil every 30,000 to 35,000 km.

Honda ATF Z1 is suitable for all transmission systems manufactured by Honda before 2011. You can use it on both passenger cars and off-roading trucks. Other than Honda vehicles, you can also use this oil on the transmission that calls for Dexron ii transmission liquid.


Honda ATF-Z1 Automatic Transmission Fluid

Honda ATF Z1 contains many additives for providing better lubricating and cleansing features. For the thermal stability it possesses, you’ll be able to enjoy smooth gear change at both low and high temperatures.

The cleansing additives keep the fluid cleaner for longer and prevent dirt build-up. As a result, the lifespan of the transmission also extends.

Moreover, this fluid has less oxidation rate. This means you don’t have to change the oil as frequently. Also, Z1 oil is less expensive than others in the market.


Z1 transmission oil was discontinued by Honda in 2011. This transmission liquid has too many friction modifiers that interfere with a smooth gear shift with time. Also, it exposed users to reproductive toxicants and carcinogens.

Honda ATF-DW1 Automatic Transmission Fluid

Honda DW1 is the ATF Z1 transmission fluid equivalent launched by Honda in 2011. The Japanese company Idemitsu is the supplier of this transmission oil.

This fluid is made with a synthetic base that is more stable. You’ll experience excellent fluidity in varying temperatures with this fluid.

DW1 has a lower viscosity than its predecessor. This also features a lower viscosity of 6.83 cSt at 100°C. As a result, you’ll get improved gas mileage and lubrication with this fluid.

Moreover, all the failings of Z1 have been removed in this transmission oil. It doesn’t include any carcinogens.

It has replaced the original Z1 ATF in all vehicles manufactured after 2011. You can also use it in transmission systems that call for Dexron iii. These two ATS’s share similarities in components, hence Dexron iii is known as the Honda ATF DW-1 equivalent.

Other than Dexron iii, you can also use it as an alternative for other Honda synthetic transmission oils such as CBD and ATX.


Honda ATF-DW1 Automatic Transmission Fluid

The main advantage of DW1 ATF is the synthetic base which adds more stability and durability to the liquid. This also increases fuel efficiency by reducing frictional losses.

It features high heat resistance. As a result, the viscosity stays almost the same even at different temperatures. And you can enjoy good performance consistently.

That’s not all, this fluid lubricates the transmission system’s components so well that a thick film is formed on them. Your transmission gets high-level protection from corrosion and wears for this oil film.

People who cover a lot of mileage frequently would definitely benefit from this ATF. The wear resistance and temperature retention capability increase the lifespan of the transmission. Therefore, you’ll have to change the oil less frequently and spend less on maintenance.

Another benefit of DW1 is that it’s reverse compatible with Z1 ATF. You can use DW1 in all the transmissions that call for Z1 transmission fluid without any worry.


The sole disadvantage of the Honda DW1 transmission liquid is the price. This ATF is rather expensive. So, using it can become a bit costly especially if you need to change transmission fluid frequently.

Dexron III Transmission Fluid

Dexron iii is a high-quality automatic transmission fluid manufactured for General Motors vehicles. This bright red and clear liquid has been produced keeping in mind the needs of the newer compact transmission system.

This is a 100% synthetic fluid combined with excellent additive packages. It can be used in torque converters and gearboxes along with the transmission system. This also features a viscosity of 7.9 cSt at 100°C and a viscosity index of 186.

You can use it for all General Motor transmission systems manufactured before 2005 and other ones that call for Dexron ii or Mercon fluids. Moreover, Ford, Isuzu, Holden, and several other older Japanese models support this transmission fluid.


Dexron III Transmission Fluid

One of the predominant advantages of Dexron iii is that it’s suitable for a wide variety of transmissions. It’s most appropriate with General Motor vehicles. Also, this ATF is compatible with the Honda DW1 transmission fluid.

It has excellent oil oxidation prevention capability. As a result, pollutants can not degrade the oil as quickly. Therefore, the fluid stays fresh for longer and the transmission offers peak performance.

Dexron iii also has superior friction durability that enables smooth shifting and longer transmission life.

Moreover, you get to enjoy an improved clutch pack and band capacity with this fluid. It’ll protect your system from bronze and copper corrosion.

Another thing you’ll love about this fluid is the higher operating temperature. Yes, Dexron iii won’t degrade under high temperatures like other ATF’s. So, you’ll need to replace the fluid less frequently. That’s not all, this ATF will give you an enhanced shift-changing experience even at lower temperatures.


Not compatible with the transmission systems of Mercedes Benz, BMW, ZF, Renk, and Voith.

Which Transmission Fluid Is the Best between Honda ATF-Z1, DW1 and Dexron III?

The main difference between Honda ATF Z1 and Honda DW1 is the base oil. Z1 has a mineral base that is not really thermally stable. On the other hand, DW1 has a high-quality synthetic base that has increased stability.

DW1 has improved sealing effectiveness, gear durability, and thermal stability. All these results in better drivability. Moreover, new additives provide enhanced antioxidant activities.

If you have to pick one based on compatibility, I’d say go for Dexron iii. Because this transmission oil is suitable for various transmissions from different companies. But Honda Z1 and DW1 ATF are compatible with older models of General Motor vehicles.

Another thing to mention is that Z1 is not compatible with Dexron iii or DW1. You can use DW1 in transmissions that require Z1, but not the other way around. However, DW1 is compatible with Dexron iii.

If you consider replacement, Dexron iii excels in this criteria too. It has a longer lifespan than the other two ATF’s. You have to change Dexron iii after 40,000 to 60,000 miles whereas Honda transmission fluids need to be replaced within 21,000 miles.

Also, Honda Z1 oil does not work great in lower temperatures. But DW1 and Dexron iii have thermal stability.

Lastly, you should keep in mind that the transmission liquid best for one vehicle may not be suitable for another. So, always use the transmission oil recommended by your manufacturer.

People Also Ask

Is Honda ATF Z1 The Same As ATF-DW1?

No, Honda ATF z1 is not the same as ATF-dW1. They have differences in viscosity which translate into distinctions in several other features too.

Can I Use DW1 Instead Of Z1?

DW1 is the official ATF z1 replacement. This means you can use dw1 instead of z1 as are compatible. You can use dw1 in place of z1 in almost all non-CVT Honda transmissions.

Why Different Automatic Transmission Fluids Can’t Be Mixed?

Different transmission fluids contain different additives and detergents. Mixing them together will make them unstable and damage the transmission system.

Are Honda Z1 And Dexron III The Same?

Honda manufacturers claim that Dexron iii can be used in their transmission system when the original Honda z1 isn’t available. However, they are not the same. Honda z1 has several unique friction modifiers, anti-foaming additives, and corrosion inhibitors that Dexron iii doesn’t possess.

What Are Symptoms Of Low Transmission Fluid?

A few common symptoms of low transmission fluid are: grinding or whining noise, leaking fluid, burning smell, and slipping gears.

Can you mix ATF-DW1 and ATF-Z1?

Yes, you can mix ATF-DW1 and ATF-Z1. There is no difference between the two fluids, so mixing them will not harm your vehicle.

Wrapping It Up

Manufacturers recommend specific automatic transmission fluids for each transmission system they build. So, using the wrong fluid can cause heavy damage to not only your transmission but the overall engine.

That is why knowing the difference between Honda ATF-Z1 vs DW1 vs Dexron III is a must. When you know the basics about these fluids, you’ll be able to pick out the best one for your vehicle.

All three of these oils possess excellent lubricating, cooling, and cleansing properties. But not selecting the right one can cause more harm than good. Therefore, to be sure, always go through the owner’s manual of your car. You’ll get a specific recommendation as to which ATF is right for your transmission.

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