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Old 26-03-2015, 18:21   #1
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Automatic transmission fluid in diesel fuel

Has anyone heard of putting a quart of ATF in your diesel fuel to clean the injectors. A quart for 50 gallon every 1000 hours. ATF has a lot of detergents that will clean the fuel system. Will this help or cause a headache?


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Old 26-03-2015, 18:46   #2
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Re: Automatic transmission fluid in diesel fuel

I've heard of it. But why do it instead of adding a diesel fuel additive instead????
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Old 26-03-2015, 18:53   #3
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Re: Automatic transmission fluid in diesel fuel

I've heard that too. But my diesel has been running thousands of hours without ATF and still sounds great. Why risk a $10,000+ engine replacement just to test out a rumour....
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Old 26-03-2015, 19:05   #4
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Re: Automatic transmission fluid in diesel fuel

Two stroke oil is also added by some for the same purpose. The theory is that it adds additional lubrication to low sulphur diesel fuels to increase pump, injector and seal life. Not sure about the cleaning claims. Used mainly in road vehicles, there's a lot of support for it's use but you'll find in general the experts don't think it does a lot of good.

You should also find that you can buy off the shelf injector cleaner. I use them myself occasionally but I can't help thinking they're snake oil at times as it's impossible to really quantify their effects.
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Old 26-03-2015, 19:51   #5
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Re: Automatic transmission fluid in diesel fuel

I have used ATF both in the diesel and in my old 79 goldwing. It's far less expensive then the other "Stuff" and works pretty well. Least wise on the old tech diesels and engines with carburetors.
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Old 26-03-2015, 21:04   #6
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Re: Automatic transmission fluid in diesel fuel

I would recommend an injector cleaner and cetane boosters added to the fuel if it were for just for maintenance, I have seen many engines start better smoke less using them I would not recommend adding trans fluid although I have used trans fluid many times to prime filters etc, but that was because it was the cleanest most available product If you have a real injector problem they will need to be removed and cleaned and pop off pressure checked and adjusted If it were for lubrication reasons the 2 cycle oil with tcw3 would be a much better choice than trans fluid which may cause deposits lone term ?
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Old 26-03-2015, 21:15   #7
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Re: Automatic transmission fluid in diesel fuel

I use ATF to fill my Racors after I change the filter. It runs right through the engine causing no problems at all.

I find it certainly easier than trying to get a cup or two of diesel fuel down below without spilling it all over the place thanks to the new "extra stupid" environmental jerry cans.

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Old 26-03-2015, 22:19   #8
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Re: Automatic transmission fluid in diesel fuel

Goes to show you...diesels must be tougher than many make them out to be...

Plus they are alternative fuel engines without the certification.

For those serious about info on their diesels, one source is boatdiesel dot com. It's a pay site but worth it.

Also, study the major diesel manufacturer sites. From what I gather, they all tend to recommend additives whenever the fuels fail to meet spec. At that point, they tend to recommend an additive that solves the problem...not some cure all. None recommend ATF from my readings.
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Old 27-03-2015, 09:52   #9
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Re: Automatic transmission fluid in diesel fuel

in my yrs around trucks, etc, loggers in the nw that i talked to, always put atf in their fuel tanks to keep the injectors clean! i think it was 1 qt/50 gallons. with boat diesels, i have friends that have put a qt of marvel mystery oil, for every 100 gal, for yrs. [walmart is the best/cheapest place to buy it] i use a fuel additive, 1oz/7gallons, by the royal oil company in texas. plus most fuel docks in the nw, have diesel with additive already in it! i always ask...also, there is`nt any road tax on marine diesel in washington state...clyde
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Old 27-03-2015, 11:58   #10
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Re: Automatic transmission fluid in diesel fuel

I use Power Service Cetane Boost. Cleans injectors, lubes, and reduces smoke as well. I get 3 or 4 % better milage in a 2001 Excursion 7.3 diesel. The twin 1996 Cummins in my boat start on a dime, idle smoothly, and put out half the smoke. I use it every fill up.
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Old 27-03-2015, 17:06   #11
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Re: Automatic transmission fluid in diesel fuel

I us StarTron for those concerns about fuel stops that may not be up to snuff. Now, how much engineering and scientific research has been done by the ATF and other stuff advocates. The engine manufacturers have volumes of research and don't recommend anything but clean filtered fuel. I don't self medicate my body or my engine but many people do. Spend your money the way you want.
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Old 27-03-2015, 17:58   #12
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Re: Automatic transmission fluid in diesel fuel

You wont find a manufacturer who will recommend additives why would they want to do the research and time on something that they can not regulate or make money from, chasing fuel standards is hard enough!
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Old 27-03-2015, 18:15   #13
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Re: Automatic transmission fluid in diesel fuel

The issue is the older diesels and older carburated gas engines, those 80's and earlier models that were designed for low sulfur fuel, not the ultra low sulfur fuel we have now a days. Sulfur actually assists with lubricating the metals under pressure in the older engine designs, mainly in the injector and HP pump.

Added a bit of 2 stroke oil or ATF, provides a bit more lubrication when using the newish ULS Diesel. Yes you can use the fancy smancy stuff too, that costs $10-$15 for 12-16 oz, or just use a bit of ATF or 2 stroke oil does the trick at less then 1/2 the price.

Newer common rail diesels don't need additives at all.
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Old 27-03-2015, 18:30   #14
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Re: Automatic transmission fluid in diesel fuel

Gran-pappy swore by this:
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Old 27-03-2015, 18:40   #15
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Re: Automatic transmission fluid in diesel fuel

Sailorchic34 nailed it. ATF is a solvent based lubricant that will soften the carbon deposites on your injectors. With todays low sulfer fuels it also acts as a lubricant for the injector pump. I have been an ASE certified master technician for over 25 years and all my fuel filters get filled with ATF and what is left over goes in the tank.
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