What is a transmission fluid service?
In this service, your mechanic will drain the transmission fluid and replace it with the correct type and quantity for your car.
- Automatic transmission cars have an oil pan containing the transmission fluid and filter, which provides the power and force required to shift into different gears.
- Manual transmission cars have a case that contains the transmission fluid. The fluid is not directly involved in shifting gears, but it can still experience wear and tear that can eventually lead to your transmission failing.
How to service your transmission fluid
Your mechanic will typically take the following steps when completing a transmission fluid service:
- Drain transmission fluid
- For automatic transmission vehicles, install a new pan gasket and filter (if replaceable)
- Add back the proper quantity and type of fluid/oil for your transmission
- Check the vehicle for leaks
- Perform a test drive
How do I know if I need to get a transmission fluid service?
It’s generally recommended to get your transmission fluid serviced between 30,000 and 60,000 miles, but make sure you check your manufacturer’s specific recommendations.
Here are some typical signs that your transmission fluid needs servicing:
- Your car has a hard time running
- Your car stalls when going down or up steep inclines
- The check engine light is on
- Your transmission is making noise
How important is a transmission fluid service?
Having transmission fluid that is uncontaminated and filled properly is a major key in keeping your car running smoothly.
An automatic transmission can slip and subsequently fail if there is insufficient fluid or it’s been polluted.
A manual transmission, conversely, can become noisy, the internal parts may wear down faster, and the transmission will fail if there is insufficient fluid or it’s been polluted.
Tips for a transmission fluid service
If you have an automatic vehicle, there is a chance your transmission filter isn’t serviceable and is designed to be “sealed for life”—meaning it doesn't need any maintenance. Be sure to check your owner’s manual to find out whether or not you have a sealed system.
For manual transmission cars, it’s best to go by your manufacturer’s specific recommendations as to when a transmission fluid service must be performed.
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