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If you open up your hood and look around, there’s a strong chance you’ll find a popular oil company's logo; sometimes it's Shell, other times Mobil 1, and in at least one case, Castrol. Each of them pushes their respective lubrication products as the best choice for your engine, but are you really sure that’s what your car needs? Branding is a massive part of the auto industry, and a well-placed name influences customers, but not every car is being used and abused in the same manner as the one that preceded it on the assembly line. Choosing the right engine oil formulation for your vehicle’s use case is imperative for vehicle longevity and health, and that’s why the manufacturer of your car likely used FUCHS from new.

What Fluids Are Really In A New Car?

Your VW or BMW may have a big emblem inside and out, but peel back the body panels, and you’d be shocked at how many brands (and, at the same time, how few) genuinely play a role, and not just for physical parts. An oil company may be listed as the  “recommended fill” in your owner’s manual, but that’s not necessarily what’s in your car. In reality, that branding on an oil fill cap or the engine cover is paid advertising. Sure, whatever brand is on there will have the appropriate weight and certification, but the truth is that it's likely not what was poured in at the factory.


Now, this isn’t a large issue for engines. Engine oil is unique in that it sees regular changes at short intervals. Shear strength and lubricating properties are paramount to its performance rather than longevity. As we know, more than a few companies are capable of putting together a formula that fits. Whatever the sticker says will be fine for servicing as the requirements are fairly standard. Where it matters the most is behind the engine, in the drivetrain.

Transmissions have completely different oil requirements from engines. In addition to lubrication and cooling, they play a role in how and when shifts are executed, making them far more integral to the process despite being under less stress. That allows gearbox fluid to last much longer, from the shortest service interval from the PDK at 40,000 miles to BMW and Mercedes’ claimed “lifetime fill.” Choosing a fluid to replace the original is much more important in this case, as a small change can make for a big issue, and only a few companies actually offer manufacturer-certified formulas. As the factory fill for PDK/DSGs, ZF 6HPs, and the Mercedes 722.9, FUCHS is arguably the safest option for ensuring another long interval of trouble-free transmission operation, as it’s most often going to be the same fluid that’s coming out of the unit.


Beyond those two major components, the power steering and brake systems have separate fluids. Your choice here is much less impactful for a daily driver and the opposite for a track-prepped car. Power steering systems will survive with sufficient cooling; you only need to grab the correct fluid type. They typically use a form of automatic transmission fluid, and many Euros will require a mineral oil called CHF 11S or CHF 202. Different steering fluids can be polar opposites in terms of composition, and using the wrong one in either system will be catastrophic. 


FUCHS & TITAN Lubricants 

The name “FUCHS” in America is synonymous with FUCHSfelge, the wheel company most famous for the air-cooled Porsche wheel. But elsewhere in the world? FUCHS lubricants are first to mind. For nearly a century, FUCHS has provided oils and lubricants for Europe's automotive, industrial, and commercial needs. Today, they regularly work with automakers and parts manufacturers to develop the next generation of fluids to keep our cars healthy.


More than that, though, their TITAN line is the “factory-fill” fluid of choice for nearly every manufacturer FCP Euro covers. That’s not to say every fluid is from FUCHS, but one at a minimum. They can have that spread because their engineers and chemists are among the best in the world, reflected by the quality of their products. As an added benefit, this often means that the fluids inside the TITAN bottle are the same as inside of the Genuine bottles you’d find at the dealer, but at a fraction of the cost.

FUCHS developed the TITAN fluid line as an option suitable for the relentless abuse faced by daily-driven vehicles. Their focus on resiliency under strenuous traffic conditions and heat, as well as outright efficiency, has made them a stellar choice for anyone caring for their commuter. Quality matches that of other OEMs, so when it comes time to service your differential or whatever else in the driveline, you can be certain there’ll be many trouble-free miles to come. 


Now, if you’re looking to hit the race track and take advantage of all the horsepower and cornering grip you have, you may seek something more resistant to shock and heat. LIQUI MOLY, Motul, Red Line, and ATE all make fluids and oils specially engineered to withstand the abuses of the race track that an OEM fluid doesn’t necessarily focus on or account for. Of course, those come with shorter replacement intervals, different formulations and chemical compositions, and often, higher prices; determining the working conditions of your driveline is one of the best ways to select the lubricant that fits your vehicle’s usage. On the opposite side of the coin, leveraging a performance fluid in your differential or transmission through daily winter use can provide less protection and accelerated wear compared to something like a TITAN product designed to do so.


“Lifetime Fill?” Not So Much

Fluid changes are crucial for extending the life of your vehicle and ensuring it runs smoothly. No matter the viscosity or additives, every kind of lubricating, cooling, and hydraulic fluid will eventually need replacing. We know that statement goes against dealer service center recommendations, but the proof is in the pudding…or oil analysis results, in this case. 


Automatic transmissions have made great strides from their clunky and slow roots decades ago, and innovations in fluid optimization have played a huge role in that progress. The fluids are now thinner, have better thermal and shear properties, and have low drag for fuel efficiency. Yet, in some instances, the expectation remains that they’ll be a “lifetime” fluid. That claim is arguable at best, as thousands around the globe have found that a fluid flush provided better shift quality and lower temperatures, protecting from destructive wear throughout the driveline. Even ZF recommends a flush at around 90,000 miles. 

Simply put, lubricating oils and hydraulic fluids degrade with use and relatively extreme stresses, regardless of whether the unit is a differential, power steering system, row-your-own, dual-clutch, or standard torque-converted automatic. Whether pumped through an engine, power steering system, transmission, or differential, that fluid will eventually need replacement to keep systems from generating destructive friction and heat. 


Whether or not you follow the manufacturer's “recommended fill” claim or extended service intervals, the fluid you choose to service your vehicle should aim to fit your driving style to ensure longevity and protection. With an OEM fill like FUCHS, which is the same as that used by many of the modern ZF and Mercedes gearboxes coming off production lines, choosing the right product for servicing your daily-driven Euro becomes much simpler.

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Written by :
Christian Schaefer

Car and motorsports-obsessed writer/editor for FCP Euro's DIY Blog. Constantly dreaming of competing behind the wheel or searching for another project. Owner of a turbo Subaru Forester and a ratty Porsche 914, neither of which are running.

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