Everything You Need To Know About Transmission Fluid Changes

A mechanic loosens the drain plug to the transmission fluid under a vehicle. Old transmission fluid trickles out.

Transmission fluid lubricates, cools, and conducts smooth gear shifts. It also determines a vehicle’s operational efficiency. The more you understand your vehicle, the less stress you’ll feel when driving. Read on to discover everything you need to know about transmission fluid changes.

Why Transmission Fluid Is Important

Transmission fluid lubricates the moving parts within the transmission, including the torque converter and planetary gear set. It also aids in cooling the transmission to prevent overheating and minimize wear.

When transmission fluid runs low or becomes tainted, the transmission system cannot operate smoothly. The gears start grinding, and the transmission will suffer considerable damage.

Signs Your Vehicle Needs a Fluid Change

Be aware of strange noises, such as grinding or whining, when shifting gears. Delayed gear engagement, as well as a burning smell, are also important to pay attention to because they indicate low transmission fluid levels and increase the chance of the system overheating.

Check the fluid itself; if it looks dark or dirty, you should change it. You might wonder how long an automatic transmission lasts; when you consistently look for signs of transmission issues, you’re actively lengthening the lifespan of your vehicle’s transmission!

When To Change Transmission Fluid

Most vehicle manufacturers recommend a transmission fluid change every 30,000–60,000 miles, depending on your driving habits. If you frequently drive in stop-and-go traffic, tow heavy loads, or drive in extreme temperatures, you might need to change it on the low end of that range.

The Process of Changing Transmission Fluid

  1. Gather necessary tools: a jack, jack stands, a drain pan, and a complete wrench set.
  2. Park your car on a flat surface to prevent movement. Use the jack to lift the car, and secure it on jack stands.
  3. Locate the transmission fluid pan underneath your car. Place the drain pan under the pan to catch the old fluid.
  4. Carefully unscrew the drain plug using a wrench to let the old transmission fluid drain into the drain pan. Allow all the fluid to drain completely.
  5. Remove the transmission fluid pan by loosening and removing the bolts. Expect more fluid to spill out during this step.
  6. Remove the old transmission filter, and clean the transmission pan thoroughly. Ensure that no debris or old fluid remains.
  7. Install the new transmission filter.
  8. Align the transmission fluid pan with the bolt holes and reattach it using the bolts you removed earlier.
  9. Pop the hood and locate the transmission fluid fill port near the engine bay. Using a funnel, pour in the recommended type and amount of transmission fluid. Refer to your vehicle’s manual for the specifics.

Taking the time to learn everything you need to know about transmission fluid changes will help you avoid costly repairs and guarantee your vehicle is fully operational. Whether you choose to do it yourself or hire a professional, understanding the process empowers you to make informed decisions for a safer, more reliable ride.

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