March 5, 2021
Every vehicle is different and there are as many differing opinions on transmission fluid. When it comes to whether or not you should change your fluid, the consensus is yes. The debate really surfaces as to when. Generally, transmission fluid does its job until the 100,000 mile mark. But, again, some camps recommend doing it much sooner, like at 30,000 miles, and more often.
Like all engine fluids, transmission fluid deteriorates over time. Which is exactly what it is supposed to do as it lubricates and protects the grinding parts of your transmission.
Let’s start at the beginning.
First, check your Owner’s Manual. We say that all the time. But it really is your vehicles Bible. It will tell you the type of transmission fluid that should be used, the duration of its life, and how to check and change it.
Most vehicles have a transmission “dip stick” for checking the fluid level and color. When you check the fluid, bright pink means it’s new. A light tan or brown indicates it’s time to change it. Also, look for obvious particles on the dip stick. This is an indicator of excessive wear, and might require a visit to the transmission shop.
Yes, there are mechanics that will say “leave well enough alone”, noting if you’re not having shifting problems, why change the oil. The often refer to stories about older transmissions immediately failing after a fluid flush or change.
Our opinion is this, refreshing your fluid offers the parts greater lubrication and protection. However, if you’re experiencing slipping or other transmission-related issues, changing or flushing your fluid will not be a magic solution.
You can definitely change your fluid yourself. It is the same process as changing your own oil. Just know that about 50% of the fluid remains in the torque converter, so you’re only getting half a change. Which, again supports the “some old fluid isn’t bad” position by the urban legend mechanics out there.
Flushing your transmission offers the option of pumping fluid through the entire system, pushing out all the old fluid with it’s corresponding particulate matter. We do recommend this option, and, that it be done by a professional. Just be sure you’re not flushing perfectly good fluid out. Always check it first.
On a side note, more and more of today’s vehicles don’t even have a transmission dipstick, so you are at the mercy of the manufacturer’s recommendation. And, some car makers don’t include a transmission fluid change in their maintenance schedule at all. If you’re vehicle operates at a normal pace, i.e., no towing, long idling, long, repeated trips, then it may never need a change.
Once again, we at Fraser recommend you listen to, and inspect your vehicle’s drivetrain on a regular basis. YOU are the master of your car, and as the primary user, you should “feel” a shift in the force, and not ignore it.
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