The ATF DW-1 fluid has replaced the ATF Z1 fluid. It is recommended that you use DW-1 if your vehicle originally used Z1. Honda ATFs are the ones I’d recommend. Sticking with OEM is often better than using Valvoline or Castrol.
Compared to the Honda DW-1, they are a few dollars cheaper per liter. Several people have posted on other (non-Honda) forums about using Castrol ATF with no problems.
Valvoline MaxLife Dex/Merc ATF has received great reviews from owners. It is compatible with Z-1 and DW-1, so there is no need to mix it with the old ATF left in the truck. Again, Honda has officially replaced ATF-Z1 with ATF-DW1.
Substitute Transmission Fluid That Meets Honda ATF-Z1
I would recommend Amsoil if you are dead set against using the Z-1. However, users who switch seem to like it better than any other alternative. Several are available. Castrol Import, Amsoil, M1. No bad experiences have been reported, or at least no more than would be expected with Z1.
Honda’s own fluid is the only fluid that meets Honda’s specs. Your car’s oil maker recommends the other fluids. They’ll likely do a fine job. However, they haven’t been tested and don’t meet the specifications.
All Honda transmissions that are not CVTs can be upgraded to DW-1, which is compatible with Z1 and replaces it. DW1 can still be used instead of Z1 for draining and filling at the next recommended interval. No matter how good or bad a substitution might be, it’s not the same as the original.
Can You Change ATF Fluid?
The Honda dealer is much more expensive than an independent garage because I don’t do this kind of work myself. DW-1 is probably available for purchase and could be brought to the garage, but is it really necessary?
You can do it very easily. You don’t even have to lift the CRV. Add the new ATF in the right place and in the right way. It is also important to know where the drain plug is located. The funnel, a wrench of the right size, the location, a container to catch the old ATF, etc.
Make sure the ATF dipstick is at the right level using the ATF dipstick. Make sure you do it after you’ve driven through all the gears as well.
The process of adding fluid usually takes longer than draining it. You probably don’t have to change your engine oil and filter as often as you change your oil.
What About Honda Odyssey ATF?
Honda Odyssey owners with Z-1 spec’d Odysseys use Valvoline Maxlife ATF. ATF Maxlife is “suitable for Z-1 use” according to its specifications. Honda isn’t going to approve any of them.
It is important to remember that the Odyssey probably has the worst track record for transmission longevity, and Maxlife performs exceptionally well in these vehicles. As far as I know, there are no failure reports of one running Maxlife.
As an example, Honda/Acura manufactures its own in-house brand, the Z1, that is designed for a specific application. It is more cost-effective to produce a formulation that can be mixed or applied to a broad range of applications produced by aftermarket companies.
It has always been my practice to use the exact aftermarket product made by the specific automobile manufacturer unless I can find the same product made by the OEM.
By exact, I mean Z1 ATF, not a fluid that can be used for multiple purposes. So what is the point of changing? Despite that, aftermarket fluids have been used in vehicles for a long time.
Whether a product is needed depends on the individual since we all have our own “valid” reasons for using it.