Is It Time To Change Your Transmission Fluid?

Transmission Fluid ChangeWhen a person starts driving, one of the most important things for them to learn is proper car maintenance. Many people know the basics, such as checking their motor oil. They may know that the motor oil in their vehicle needs to be changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. They may also know that if they don’t change the oil regularly then they risk severe damage to their engine. What many new drivers don’t realize is that there are other fluids in their car that require just as much attention.

Transmission Fluid

Transmission fluid keeps a car moving smoothly, by lubricating the gears, which helps your car perform better. The transmission is a closed system, which means the fluid should not run low. Since the fluid doesn’t run out, many new drivers believe that it never needs to be changed. They believe it’s safe to drive with the same transmission fluid for years. However, driving with the same transmission fluid for years, can pose a danger.

When any lubricating liquid, like transmission fluid or motor oil, breaks down it cannot adequately lubricate the car’s gears. For some, the deterioration of the transmission fluid never becomes a major issue, but for others it can lead to severe damage. The damage caused may depend on the risk factors that result in the fluid breaking down.

Some of the risk factors include:

  • Excessive hauling and towing
  • Using a manual transmission
  • Poor driving conditions
  • Frequent stop-and-go driving
  • Plowing snow
  • Periods of heavy use

These driving issues can cause the heat level in the transmission to increase. The extreme heat can break down the fluid’s components. Burnt transmission fluid is not an effective lubricant. A person who does not experience the driving issues mentioned above, may not experience fluid breakdowns for years. However, the above risk factors can expedite the deterioration of the liquid.

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Should You Change Your Oil?

Many people have different opinions of how often transmission fluid should be changed. The best answer is found in the car’s owner’s manual. Most manuals recommend changing the transmission fluid every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. The recommendations in the manual are based on testing done on that particular vehicle.

The information in the manual is a reliable and should be followed. However, if a driver knows that their driving involves some of the risk factors, then they should adjust the recommendations to fit their driving habits. For example, if the vehicle will be used to tow a fishing boat during the summer, then the car may require a fluid change earlier than recommended in the manual.

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How Do You Check It?

The method to check the transmission fluid is similar to how the motor oil is tested. There is a dipstick. When checking the transmission fluid, the driver should not be worried about the level. Since the transmission is a closed system, the oil level should never decrease. What should be checked is the quality of the transmission fluid. The fluid should be relatively clean and have a reddish or pink color. If the liquid is light to dark brown and has a burnt smell, then it needs to be changed.

Average Price of a Transmission Fluid Change

Changing transmission fluid is a relatively inexpensive maintenance job. The average cost will be between $60 and $100. The price may be more if the transmission filter needs to be replaced. This repair is well worth the investment because it prolongs the life of your transmission and improves driving performance.