Reducing loss torque in automatic transmissions (ATs) is a key factor in improving fuel economy. A promising approach is to reduce the viscosity of the Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) so as to minimize churning loss. Aisin AW and JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation have developed a super low viscosity ATF, called “AW-2”, which has approximately 50% lower kinematic viscosity at 40 °C compared to the conventional ATF “AW-1”. It is generally understood that if the viscosity of an ATF is too low, it can have a negative impact on the fatigue life of components such as gears and bearings, and possibly lead to increased wear or seizure. AW-2 was designed to solve these problems via the application of two key technologies. The first is a high performance base oil with a low traction coefficient, which translates to low viscosity under high pressure conditions. This decreases the shear resistance between sliding surfaces under elastohydrodynamic lubrication (EHL) conditions, which contributes in improving the fatigue life of bearings and other components. The second is an ester type base oil with high polarity. It was found that the amount of ester base oil used has a major influence on fatigue life. The adsorption of esters onto metal surfaces is thought to improve lubricity in severe lubrication conditions. Durability tests were performed in a wide range of conditions, using gear and bearing components and actual transmission units, and it was confirmed that AW-2 outperforms AW-1, despite its super low viscosity. Furthermore, AW-2 reduced loss torque in the transmission by approximately 10% compared to AW-1.
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