Have you ever asked yourself: Should I change my transmission fluid yet?
The answer to this totally depends on how you use your vehicle. What kind of weather do you drive in and how often do you drive your vehicle. Do you spend most of your time driving on inner city paved roads; or do you go “off roading” a lot?
People don’t give a lot of thought to the amount of wear and tear that your vehicle is subjected to but your own driving habits, weather conditions (sunny and hot, or cold and rainy? Deep snow conditions below freezing?) as well as what type of vehicle you drive will be some of the biggest factors when determining how frequently you should change your transmission fluids.
Most vehicles have either an automatic transmission or a continuously variable transmission (CVT for short). These complex systems have their own computer and other electronic components, so regularly servicing your transmission is more important than ever as it is significantly cheaper to maintain these systems than it is to fix them!
What does Transmission fluid do for your vehicle?
Transmission fluid does many things. It acts as a hydraulic fluid that assists in shifting gears; it also cleans and lubricates the internal moving parts of your car or truck’s transmission. That is why manufacturers recommend changing your fluid and filter at regular intervals just like your engine oil. Having said that, however, you cannot change it too often. Usually it is recommended at 30,000 to 50,000 miles for transmission fluid replacement.
Transmission Fluid is Important!
Severe driving conditions such a stop-and-go driving, hauling heavy loads, and driving long distances or up and down mountains can prematurely break down your fluid and it will require more frequent fluid changes. By the way, not all transmission fluid is the same. In fact, there are over 150 different types of transmission fluids and using the wrong transmission fluid may actually cause damage to your transmission. Dirty transmission fluid can cause hard or rough shifting. It can even lead to complete transmission failure which may cost thousands of dollars to repair the vehicle. Regular maintenance is always cheaper than the cost of replacing your transmission.
Signs of fluid breakdown are:
- hard or slow shifting in and out of gear,
- an increase noise or unusual vibration.
Are you thinking about changing your transmission fluid?
Great! Your transmission fluids can be checked by your local automotive service professional to let you know if your transmission fluid needs changing, and what kind of fluid your vehicle needs. Depending on how long it has been since you’ve last had your vehicle in for regular maintenance there are two types of services that are generally offered. One method drains the fluid from the lower reservoir pan and refills it which is similar to an oil change; however, this type of service only removes about 50% of your fluid which means there is still a substantial amount of old fluid left inside the transmission.
Your other option is a much more thorough transmission fluid exchange. The service professional uses a machine which exchanges 90% to 95% of the old fluid and replaces it with a new fluid. This is a better option because you end up with more clean, new fluid in the system. There are also cleaners and additives your service professional can use for added protection; with either service, check to make sure your service technician has replaced any filters as well so they don’t circulate dirty oil or transmission fluids into the newly cleaned fluids.