Q: When Should I Change My Transmission Fluid?

asked by on November 20, 2015

When should I change my transmission fluid?

Transmission Fluid Service $125.08 - $445.00 Get a Quote

Great question! I’m going to assume you’re asking about an automatic transmission. The answer is: it depends! I suggest starting by looking at the manufacturer’s schedule of maintenance recommended for your particular vehicle in the owner’s manual. Between 30,000-60,000 miles is a common interval to replace transmission fluid. That advice is good to follow for a long, healthy life for your transmission.

Some manufacturers build automatic transmissions now with no dipstick, stating that the transmission is sealed for life and requires no fluid replacement. Although this sounds good, it isn’t a good way to make the transmission last a long time. The manufacturer’s main concern is that the vehicle make it past the time and mileage specified in their warranty.

The exception to this recommendation is when the car has over 100,000 miles on the original transmission fluid, or the current transmission fluid is very dark and burnt. Changing the fluid in either of these scenarios can very likely do more harm than good, because the transmission has adapted over time to operating on dirty fluid with worn clutch plate material in it, and suddenly replacing that fluid with new fluid can cause it to shift poorly and slip while accelerating. Approach either of these situations with caution.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

What others are asking

What does flushing car fluids mean?

Flushing car fluids generally refers to having a sealed systems fluid completely replaced usually with the use of a machine that is capable of complete fluid exchange. Systems that are generally flushed in our modern vehicles include the coolant system,...

Transmission rebuild cost

I just did a quick E-bay search and found this: (06-10 Chevy Impala 3.5L 4T65E w/ Converter, Remanufactured 3 year 100,000 mile Warr, Free Converter, NO CORE CHARGE) for a $1,475.00 plus a $300.00 shipping charge. Then there would be...

How do I use the shifter?

Your Continuously Variable Transmission has five positions: P (Park), R (Reverse), N (Neutral), D (Drive), and L (Low). In order to move the car out of P, you will need to depress the brake pedal, and press the button on...

Transmission problems

My first recommendation is to have a certified mechanic verify the symptoms with a thorough transmission inspection that includes a road test. Explain to the technician what you are experiencing so they can look out for these things during the...

Transmission service light on

There are many different reasons for the Transmission Service Light to come on for your 2004 Jaguar Vanden Plas. The most common would be low fluid level or a fluid service interval that has been exceeded. If you want to...

Transmission making noise

A transmission has many parts both mechanical and electronic. If your transmission is making noises, it is going to need internal work done to it. A rebuild will fix the issue with the transmission. As for the ABS Light being...

Replaced power steering pump and fluid is shooting out of cap after driving when i turn engine off

This is probably a consequence of air trapped in the system, and consequent aeration of the fluid, which builds pressure in the reservoir. If you did not experience this problem prior to the pump replacement, it might be due to...

Shifting won't go into gear - 1973 Chevrolet C20

Check fluid level in the transmission. Did you correctly engage the front pump with the torque convertor, and filled the torque convertor with fluid before installing it? Let the truck idle 15 minutes or so, and check for Drive/Reverse after...

The transmission seems to be slipping.

I see your note about the color of the transmission fluid, but is the fluid level correct too? Dark or burned fluid along with a low level can cause the transmission to slip and if the fluid smells burned there...

Related articles

The 10 Transmission Problems to Never Ignore
There’s nothing quite like transmission problems to stress out the average car owner. They are, at best, inconvenient and, at worst, very expensive. Proper...
The 10 Most Important Things in Your Car Owner’s Manual
Your owner's manual tells you important information about your car, like how to set up your car, how to check car fluids, and correct tire pressure.
How to Replace Transmission Fluid
Whether Whether you have a manual or an automatic transmission in your vehicle, the transmission fluid is one of the most overlooked fluids when it comes to maintenance. Forgetting to change this fluid can result in some serious issues such...