How Whale Oil Was Once Used in Cars

You may not realize just how many fluids are in your car. While the basics include windshield washer fluid and motor oil, we may forget about things like brake fluid or transmission fluid. Once upon a time, changing your transmission fluid wasn’t as simple as going to the store, because the oil being used was actually whale oil. It was commonly used in the vehicles produced by GM because it prevented rust and could operate efficiently at high temperatures. However, in the early 1970s, sperm whales became endangered and GM was no longer permitted to use whale oil in their vehicles. Unfortunately, the new oil caused fittings in the system to rust, and while that problem has since been resolved, at the time substitute oils caused thousands of transmission failures.