Several fluids run throughout a vehicle. But you need to keep an eye on the transmission fluid of your car. How often you should change transmission fluid is a matter of debate. It’s necessary to change it but usually varies by manufacture, vehicle, or driving habits.
There’s no doubt that transmissions are a foreign territory, and understanding them might take more time than you think. On the other hand, most modern cars feature an automatic transmission. That’s why the owner of automatic cars wonders when to opt for automatic transmission fluid change.
The case is different with manual transmissions as they need conventional gear oil than transmission fluid. Manual cars also require a different maintenance schedule. Therefore, it’s best to get some insight into manual and automatic transmissions maintenance and have your transmission fluid changed with ease.
If you’ve got the automatic transmission, our blog has covered how often you should change its fluid and other essential factors.
Let’s explore them in detail.
What is automatic transmission fluid?
Before we talk about changing your transmission’s fluid, it’s necessary to discuss automatic transmission. It’s a slippery fluid that lubricates all moving parts inside the transmission.
Moreover, it also acts as a coolant and viscous fluid that transfer power from the engine to the transmission in the automatic transmission.
What does transmission fluid do?
As a transmission lubricator, the slippery substance allows your transmission parts to move and work without hindrance. This way, transmission runs without the occurrence of issues.
Since automatic transmissions generate more heat than manual transmissions, that’s why the fluid is used to help maintain the right temperature for your engine to work with the transmission effectively.
As mentioned, proper fluids are essential to keep your vehicle run smoothly. But various particles accumulate inside the transmission fluid, making transmission fluid change necessary to keep your car in good condition.
How often should you change transmission fluid?
The question is open to debate. Different experts will make various suggestions and make recommendations according to their experience.
Since changing the transmission fluid varies from vehicle type to driving habits, it’s best to follow your manufacturer’s recommendation from the manual provided to you at the time of purchase.
Moreover, most automatic transmissions function on the fluid interval between 60,000 and 100,000 miles. Due to this reason, many automatic car owners wait to reach the 60,000 mark up to get the transmission fluid changed. But you can request automatic transmission fluid change after 30,000 miles. There’s no harm in having frequent changes.
On the other hand, a professional mechanic keeps an eye on the transmission’s fluid during an oil change or other services. These regular maintenance trips to mechanics also help you identify other vehicles problems before they become something big.
Maintenance Between Intervals
It’s essential to check the transmission fluid level between service intervals to prevent various problems. For instance, if you allow your car to run low on transmission fluid, it won’t shift properly.
Not opting for service between intervals can damage internal parts of your transmission. It can happen due to improper lubrication.
What’s more troubling is that you won’t be able to hear noises that indicate that your transmission is low on fluids until it gets out of hand. That’s why it’s essential to schedule maintenance trips between intervals.
Tips for Checking Transmission Fluid
Indeed, many modern models of automatic cars don’t come with transmission fluid dipsticks, which makes it difficult to check the transmission fluid.
The automakers recommend visiting a service center instead to check the fluid level. But you can check your owner’s manual to see if your transmission has an easily accessible dipstick.
If it does, here are a few tips that help you check the transmission fluid.
- For the recommended procedure, see your owner’s manual to check the transmission fluid.
- To get a more accurate reading, park your car on a leveled surface.
- Focus on engine cooling fans that run after the engine is off and other hot engine components. Many vehicle manufacturers recommend that the engine and transmission be at the operating temperature when you check the transmission fluid.
- You need to see if the fluid is checked when the engine was running or off. This step varies from car to car and is likely to affect accuracy.
- Move the gear selector into each gear for a few seconds before checking the fluid. You need to return to a park or neutral and apply the parking brake before getting out of your car.
- Check your owner’s manual to find the dipstick handle. It might be bright in color.
- Don’t spill any fluid on the hot engine or exhausted parts while removing the dipstick. Wipe it off using a clean rag.
- Reinsert the dipstick, then remove the dipstick again to check the fluid level. It should be between the low and full marks.
- If there’s a leak and you need to refill, go for the recommended transmission fluid. Fill it to the suggested level and get the leak fixed at the earliest.
- Once done, reinstall the dipstick.
Signs to Identify Low Transmission Fluid
You’re mistaken if you think heat leads to improper shifting. Low transmission fluid can contribute to various problems, such as:
- Increased temperatures
- Inconsistent shifts
Opting for the transmission fluid changed at the proper interval is worth the investment you’ve made in your vehicle. It may seem a complex task. However, it isn’t. When it comes to automatic transmission fluid change costs, consulting with a professional mechanic can help you identify the right price.
Lastly, don’t forget to study your vehicle’s manual. It will provide the correct information about how often you should change transmission fluid with other necessary guidelines to keep your car in good condition.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- Are transmission flushes necessary?
Many manufacturers recommend opting for a transmission flush after two years or 30,000 miles. In any case, your car starts to have trouble; you can go for a transmission service between the recommended intervals.
- What happens when you don’t change your transmission fluid?
If you don’t opt for frequent transmission fluid changes, the dirty fluid will neither serve as an effective lubricant nor disperse the heat nicely. This condition will further lead to wear and tear on the clutches and other transmission parts.
- How much does a transmission fluid change cost?
The cost depends on the repair facility. The price ranges between $80 to $250. However, if you want to do it yourself, it ranges between $50 to $100.
- How do you know when to change your transmission fluid?
For automatic transmissions, the service interval recommended is about 30,000 miles or every 30 months. You can also check your owner’s manual or service manual for the exact time. However, if the dipstick showcases dark or burnt smelling fluid, you need to change it quickly.
- Transmission fluid change vs. flush –which option is better?
A transmission fluid change will help revive your car’s system and keep it in good working order. It’s also a cheaper option and simple enough to be done yourself. Whereas, the transmission flush is expensive. But it will replace all fluid and contaminants that have accumulated in the system.