When to Change Transmission Fluid

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transmission fluid changeIf you’re trying to find out when to change transmission fluid in your vehicle, you’re either very on top of your preventative maintenance, or you’ve got some sort of problem brewing in your transmission that you’re hoping a fluid change will fix.  Either way, we’re here to help!

Changing your transmission fluid is just as important as changing your engine oil.  However, many of us can easily forget this routine maintenance item on our vehicles due to the long interval in between fluid changes.  The shortest interval for transmission fluid changes recommended by a manufacturer is 2 years or 30,000 miles of normal driving.  Some of today’s more modern vehicles can have transmission fluid changes only required every 100,000 miles or more.  With maintenance intervals this far apart, it is easy to forget.

To help keep you on top of your vehicle’s maintenance schedule, try checking in the owner’s manual to see if there is a provided service schedule.  Many owner’s manuals have a section where you can date and list any maintenance done.  If your owner’s manual is lost or doesn’t have one of these logs, we recommend checking with your local dealership to see if they can provide the maintenance schedule for you.  Once you’ve got your maintenance log or schedule, make sure to pull it out every oil change.  Having your oil changed is usually the most often maintenance item that needs to be performed on your vehicle, so if you check your log every oil change, you’ll never miss a maintenance item.

If you have discovered a problem in your transmission and are hoping to solve the problem with a transmission fluid change, you may be on the right track.  Things like hard or hanging shifts, jerky downshifts and even slipping can often be solved by changing your transmission fluid.

transmission fluid changeMost modern cars have computer controlled transmission so your transmission controls gear shifts through a variety of sensors and electronically controlled valves and servo motors.  These valves and servos control the clutches and bands in your transmission that actually affect the gear ratio.  If the pressure and fluid flow in your transmission gets blocked or changed due to debris in your transmission passages or changes in fluid characteristics as your transmission fluid ages it can cause your transmission to shift poorly.  Unfortunately, if you’re experiencing these problems and a transmission fluid change doesn’t change anything, you most likely have deeper issues with your transmission and will need to visit a dealership or transmission specialist for a diagnosis and repairs.

To find out when to change transmission fluid in your vehicle, start by checking your owner’s manual.  Your owner’s manual should give you general guidelines to follow for changing your transmission fluid.  For example, if you use your vehicle for towing or drive often in city or stop and go traffic, you should change your transmission fluid more regularly than if you often drive on the highway you can stretch your transmission fluid to the longest recommended change interval in your owner’s manual.

If your vehicle is equipped with a dipstick for your transmission you can also inspect the fluid yourself.  The dip stick will usually be towards the back of your engine bay and have a different color handle than your oil stop stick.

When you pull the dipstick out you will want to check the color, clarity, and smell of the fluid.  The color should be bright and very close to the color of new transmission fluid.  Unlike your engine oil, transmission fluid should only get slightly darker in color as it ages, if it is dark at all, consider changing the fluid.  For clarity, try shining a flashlight on the wet part of your dip stick.  Look for particles in the fluid, especially shiny metallic particles.  This would indicate there are wear products in your transmission fluid which can be abrasive so you should consider changing your fluid soon.  Lastly, the fluid shouldn’t smell burnt or like dirt, but should smell like gear oil or even slightly sweet.

While you’re checking the condition of your transmission fluid, check the fluid level as well.  Most transmissions need to have the fluid level checked with the vehicle running in park on level ground.  The fluid level should be between the high and low marks for the current temperature of the transmission fluid.  If you find a low fluid level, add BlueDevil Transmission Sealer to your transmission fluid, then top off your fluid level.  BlueDevil Transmission Sealer will seal the leak in your transmission to make sure you don’t end up with a low fluid level in between fluid changes.

For more information about BlueDevil Transmission Sealer, click on the banner below.
BlueDevil Transmission Sealer
You can purchase BlueDevil Transmission Sealer at any of our partnering local auto parts stores like:

  • AutoZone
  • Advance Auto Parts
  • Bennett Auto Supply
  • CarQuest Auto parts
  • NAPA Auto Parts
  • O’Reilly Auto Parts
  • Pep Boys
  • Fast Track
  • Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts Specialists
  • S&E Quick Lube Distributer
  • DYK Automotive

 

Pictures Provided By:

transmission_fluid_change.jpg – By Chat9780 Licensed by Thinkstock Photos – Original Link

automatic_transmission – by sspopov – Licensed by Thinkstock Photos – Original Link

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