Transmission fluid is the lifeblood of your transmission. Transmission fluid acts as a lubricant to help keep everything running smoothly and efficiently. That is, of course, assuming that you have good levels of clean transmission fluid in your transmission. To ensure this at all times, you should regularly change your transmission fluid. But how and when is sometimes a matter of debate.
There are many transmission problems that can be caused or exacerbated by an inadequate quantity or quality of transmission fluid. If you are driving around with either very old or not enough transmission fluid (or worse still, both), you are accelerating the wear and damage on components within your transmission. Taking the time to change it out when necessary could save you loads of time and money in the end by extending the lifespan of your transmission.
Just when you should change out your transmission fluid will vary depending on what kind of transmission you have, what vehicle you drive, where you drive, how you drive, and how much your drive. But for a very rough estimate, for an automatic transmission, you ought to change your fluid every 50,000-100,000 kms. 100,000 kms is in the far reaches of the acceptable range, mind you. The Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association suggests every 50,000 kms or every two years.
For manual transmissions, you should change the fluid about every 50,000-90,000 kms, however, under intense use, some manufacturers suggest changing it as often as every 25,000 kms. The reason for the difference between automatic and manual transmissions is because they take different fluids. Automatic transmissions take –get this– automatic transmission fluid. For manuals, it is a bit more complicated. They might take any of a variety of oils: regular motor oil, heavyweight hypoid gear oil, or even automatic transmission fluid in some cases. Your owner’s manual will tell you which is best for your transmission.
To change out your transmission fluid, first let your car idle for a few minutes. After turning your ignition off, raise and secure the vehicle. Lay down at least a two-gallon catch pan, then carefully remove the bolts from one side of the transmission pan and then the other bolts, allowing the pan to tilt and drain. Once you’ve removed all the bolts, lower the pan and dump the remaining fluid into the catch pan.
After that, remove the old transmission filter and O-ring. The filter contains fluid, so keep the drain pan underneath. Install the new transmission filter, and make sure that the O-ring is in the appropriate place. Attach the new gasket to the pan with oil-soluble grease – not gasket sealer or adhesive.
Screw in all the fasteners finger-tight. Torque the pan bolts to spec in a spiral pattern starting at the center. Maximum torque is often about 12 pounds per foot. Then, lower your automobile and fill the transmission with the recommended amount of fluid. Finally, turn your engine on to check for leaks.
As you can see, changing your transmission fluid is quite involved. If it seems like much of a hassle for you, please contact us at Mister Transmission and we’d be happy to do it for you. We can also “flush” your transmission fluid out, taking out more metal shavings and debris.