What is the transmission fluid all about?
Transmission fluid helps cool and lubricate your vehicle’s transmission’s internal parts. The transmission transfers power from the engine to the wheels of the car. An automatic transmission shifts the car into different gears depending on the speed that you are driving. In an automatic transmission car, the transmission system has an oil pan that contains the transmission fluid and fluid filter. The fluid provides the power/force required to shift into different gears. In manual transmission cars, there is a case that contains the transmission fluid.
Contrary to an automatic transmission, the fluid in a manual system is not directly involved in changing gears, because it is a mechanical system, whereas an automatic transmission is hydraulic.If an automatic transmission does not have enough fluid, or the fluid has been contaminated, it is possible for the transmission to start to slip and eventually fail. If a manual transmission does not have enough fluid, or the fluid has been contaminated, it is possible for the transmission to become noisy, the internal parts to wear out faster and eventually for the transmission to fail.
Keep in mind:
An automatic transmission fluid service will replace the pan gasket, filter, and transmission fluid. Some vehicles do not have a serviceable transmission filter and some transmissions are designed to be “sealed for life,” meaning that they do not require any service or maintenance. Check your owner’s manual for information on whether you have a sealed system or not.
Unlike an automatic transmission, a manual transmission does not contain a filter, which means that as components wear, the transmission fluid picks up particles of metal and is unable to filter them. This is why it is very important to perform a transmission fluid service as per manufacturer recommendations.
How it's done:
- Drain the transmission fluid
- (Automatic only) Install new pan gasket and filter (if replaceable)
- Add the proper type and quantity of oil/fluid for your transmission
- Check for leaks
- Test drive the vehicle
A conservative rule of thumb is that a car should get a transmission fluid service every 40,000 miles. If you notice any fluid underneath the car, get it inspected as soon as you can. Changing your transmission’s fluid regularly will greatly extend the service life of your vehicle’s transmission.
What are the common symptoms indicating you need to replace the transmission fluid?
- Vehicle has a hard time running
- Vehicle stalls when going up or down a steep incline
- Check Engine Light is on
- Transmission makes noise
How important is this service?
Transmission fluid services are an important part of regular maintenance and will increase the service life of your transmission. According to the Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association, 90% of automatic transmission failures are caused by overheating and can be often blamed on transmission fluid that should have been replaced.