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Transmission Service Explained

Simple wear and tear can take its toll on your transmission. Over time the additives in the transmission fluid can be depleted and the transmission fluid will become oxidized and contaminated. This means the fluid may not lubricate properly and cause the internal parts to wear prematurely, shortening the life of your transmission.

I’m often asked, “How much should it cost and how often should I service my transmission? ”The automotive industry has no published standards for servicing a transmission. This is sad but true. The only guideline is the owner’s manual from the manufacturer. Some car company’s say never service the transmission, while others have specific intervals.

In general, we suggest the time to service your transmission is 50,000 miles on an average car, however, some cars will go longer intervals and some shorter, that is why I recommend you find a shop you trust and let them help you find a service track that fits your needs and driving style.

Cost can range from $149.95 for a service, while others are at $300.00 or more at times.  The type of car, type of fluid, type of transmission (there are CVT, constant velocity transmission that take very specific fluid) must be factored in. Most new cars have five, six, seven and even eight gears now and the wrong fluid will destroy these transmissions and possibly void the warranty.

When you ask for a transmission service or one is recommended by your service provider, here is a list of ways a transmission can be serviced.

1.  Automatic Transmission Fluid Exchange (replace all or some of the fluid) This can be dangerous, due to the fact that the filter is NOT changed, only the fluid.

2.  Automatic Transmission Fluid Drain & Fill (remove a drain plug and replace a small amount of fluid) again, this has no filter change included.

3.  Automatic Transmission Filter Replacement (remove the transmission pan and replace the filter and some of the fluid)

4.  Automatic Transmission Fluid Exchange & Filter Replacement (remove the transmission pan and replace all the fluid)

Note: not all transmissions have a replaceable filter, so be sure to ask you service provider which option is best.

Type of fluid is another concern. At last count I have 25 different transmission fluids alone, costs ranging from $3.99 a quart to a Jaguar fluid that is $25.99 a quart.  Any transmission fluid will work in a transmission, but the wrong type of fluid will shorten the life significantly. So how do you know if you’re getting the correct fluid installed? You have to trust your service person to use the car specific fluid. It is truly “buyers beware” so I recommend getting educated about your car and type of transmission fluid. It is a good idea to be knowledgeable about all other fluids that are used in your car. Build a relationship with your car care provider and use common sense and your transmission will last for a long time.

If the price seems too good to be true, yep, it most likely is. 

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