Changing your transmission fluid is a vital part of maintaining your car but not as frequent as changing your oil, so it can be easily overlooked. Your owner’s manual is the best guide to finding out when you need to specifically change the transmission fluid but understanding why it helps the health of your car is also important.
The biggest thing about a transmission fluid flush is that it is preventative maintenance. Healthy transmission fluid tends to be a bright translucent pink and as it ages, changes to an orange, then to a darker, more burnt color.
What Transmission Fluid Does
Transmission fluid is a lubricant that keeps all of the moving parts moving smoothly when you’re moving, switching gears, stopping, hauling, and towing. The harder you make the transmission work, the hotter it becomes and puts more strain and friction on all the parts. Over time, the fluid deteriorates and gets gunky from bits of debris and dirt. Transmission fluid will differ between automatic and manual transmissions as well as maintenance for them.
Average Time to Change Transmission Fluid
Most manufacturers recommend flushing the transmission fluid every 100,000 miles, which is why it can be easy to forget to do. However, when you hit that 100,000-mile mark, remember to schedule a transmission fluid flush after you celebrate getting to 6 digits. Again, check your owner’s manual for the recommended time frame for your vehicle’s make and model.
How Does a Transmission Fluid Flush Work?
When you schedule a transmission fluid flush with a local car maintenance shop, the old transmission fluid is removed and new fluid is run through to “flush” out the grime using a professional grade machine from the torque converter and cooler lines. Then new, fresh fluid is filled in.
How Does a Transmission Fluid Change Work?
A transmission fluid change is drained using gravity like with a typical oil change. As a result, some of the old fluid remains in the vehicle. Whether you choose a flush or a change, it still will improve the life and performance of your car and prevent surprise break downs. Just make sure that the filter and gaskets also get changed.
Signs to Change Transmission Fluid
If you are having trouble switching gears, the oil is dark and has metal flakes, excess gunk, or smells burnt, it definitely needs to get changes as soon as possible before a serious issue occurs. If you drive your vehicle hard or go off-roading or tow any heavy trailers, it’s definitely worth having a mechanic take a look every 30,000 miles to make sure things are ok with your transmission fluid. If it does smell burnt or has metal flakes in it, do not flush it yourself. Bring it to a transmission expert to see if there might a damaged part that could get worse if you flush it carelessly.
If it’s time for you to change your transmission fluid, Schedule an Appointment with an AAMCO Minnesota Transmission Repair & Total Car Care location near you today.