Should you change your vehicle’s transmission fluid? Great question! Generally, the first step toward determining your specific automobile needs is simply checking the owner’s manual. The manufacturer will outline a schedule, usually in mileage intervals (every 60,000 miles). However, some automakers fill their new cars with “lifetime” fluid and suggest not changing the transmission fluid at all. So what should you really do? The ASE-certified technicians at Dave Wilkes Transmissions in Ventura, California, are happy to help you navigate the ins and outs of transmission fluid change or any other related need your vehicle may have (transmission rebuild, fluid flush, replacement, clutch replacement, etc.).
Do: In addition to reviewing your owner’s manual, monitor your transmission fluid. Your vehicle will have a means for checking the fluid level. Typically, this is a dipstick (similar to the oil check) located behind the one designated for oil. Check the transmission fluid level with your engine running. When you pull out the probe, you’ll notice markings to indicate fluid level (i.e., lines to show you if it’s full or needs more). You should, however, observe for more than the amount of fluid. You should also notice the condition. Wipe the stick with a clean, light disposable cloth. If the fluid is somewhat translucent with a pink cast, it’s in good condition. If it’s dark, it needs replacing. Worse, there’s transmission damage if you see metal shavings in the extracted fluid sample.
Don’t: Don’t assume that the transmission fluid will always last through the full extent of the recommended cycle or that “lifetime” fluid never goes bad. Since the fluid lubricates the moving parts and helps keep the transmission cool, keeping a sufficient supply of transmission fluid in decent condition is key.
Know: As a consumer, it’s important to understand what you’re getting when you purchase a transmission service or repair. A transmission fluid change entails draining this component’s lubricant. This empties about half of the transmission fluid, but the remainder stays behind in the torque converter and additional hiding spots. When you request a transmission flush, clean fluid is forced through a hose such that it travels throughout the transmission, forcing all of the old liquid out. While this completely exchanges the fluid, it can also force shavings or debris to other areas, causing slippage.
While the debate continues about whether to change transmission fluid and whether you should opt for exchange or flush, Dave Wilkes Transmission remains a trusted shop that will discuss honestly what your auto needs. That’s why we’re AAA approved, BBB accredited, and an ATRA member.