How Often Should I Change My Transmission Fluid

Do you find yourself asking "how often should I change my transmission fluid?" According to the dealer, most vehicles should have the transmission fluid changed every 30,000 miles. From a mechanical standpoint, the fluid should be changed every time the fluid shows a brownish color.

A transmission is sealed and not affected by water or road dirt. The discoloration in the fluid is dust from particles that dislodge as the clutch wears. This is common to all vehicles. Clutch wear cannot be prevented. It can be minimized with normal driving and preventing successive fast starts and hard accelerations. A build-up of this clutch material can block passages in the transmission valve body, causing various problems differing in severity. Too much material and the transmission will definitely fail.

A couple words about changing the transmission fluid. If you do it yourself or have it done at a service facility where the transmission pan is dropped and a new filter installed, the fluid will still be only 60 percent cleaner. The reason for this is that the torque converter fluid cannot be changed through this method. It contains as much as four quarts of fluid. As soon as the vehicle is put into gear, the fluid in the torque converter will be exchanged with the new fluid and contaminated.  The best way to have the transmission serviced is to take it to a service station or facility such as Mr. Transmission that has a transmission service machine.

This machine attaches to the transmission cooler lines at the radiator. It is full of new fluid and when the vehicle is started, the transmission pump pushes the fluid out the cooler line, through the machine, where it captures the old fluid and it replaces the old fluid with new fluid through the cooler return line. The machine's lines are clear so the operator can watch the fluid color and leave the machine on until the fluid runs clear and red. This process may take 14-16 quarts, but when it is done, the transmission will be clean, including the torque converter. The price is close enough to what it would cost to do it yourself.

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