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Is there any real difference between the Honda ATF-Z1 fluid and your standard DEXRON III fluid. I would like to change my own fluid and prefer not to pay jacked up prices to my Honda dealer for fluid.
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YES.

Especially for a CVT transmission.

And be CRITICALLY "picky" about preventing _ANY_ dirt from entering when checking or adding fluid. The "normal" small amount of road grit that often accumulates around a dipstick hole can cause serious problems if it gets in a CVT.

AFAIK the Honda CVT system uses a pitot tube to "measure" fluid pressure as slung off the compression chain link belt. _ONE_ piece of dirt lodging in this small hole _will_ wreak havoc with the transmissions ability to shift. And by its design ATF is constantly being slung at this hole so your odds of survival are low should enough of a wrong size particle get into the fluid.
 
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