Transmission Fluid

Do You Need to Change Your Transmission Fluid?

Changing your transmission fluid is something that you may never have to worry about, depending on the type of car you own. Changing the transmission fluid in your vehicle is not something that you will have to do frequently. There are some automatic transmissions that never require a fluid change. If you own a manual transmission vehicle, typically the fluid is changed every 50,000 miles or so.

What does the transmission fluid do?

Transmission fluid is used primarily to lubricate your vehicle’s transmission components. In automatic transmissions, the fluid acts as a primary cooling agent for the transmission components. The fluid acts as both a lubricant and a coolant. It helps the car shift. Shift gears is a strenuous task for any vehicle. The transmission fluid allows the vehicle to shift gears without wearing down parts over time. Transmission fluid creates hydraulic pressure coupled with friction to make the transmission parts work.

How long does transmission fluid last?

While you may need to change the fluid from time to time. If you find that you use your vehicle more often, say for work, or for constant long travel distances. It is recommended that the fluid be checked if not changed every 15-20k miles. One of the quickest ways that transmission fluid breaks down is the presence of contaminants. Contaminants in your fluid will need to be flushed out for your car or truck to operate at its highest level. Not only can that but contaminants that are not drained out lead to costly repairs of your transmission as a whole.

How to Check your transmission fluid in an automatic Car

As we have said before, automatic transmissions can run for quite a long time before you ever have to think about changing the fluid. But still, it’s a good idea to check the levels from time to time.

How to check fluid levels:

  1. Park vehicle on a flat surface. 

On some cars, the gear shifter may have an “M” setting for manual. You may want to shift through all three before putting your vehicle in park. After this keep your car’s engine running. This will help you get an accurate reading of the fluid level. Refer to your owner’s manual for the specifics. Some manufacturers require you to place the vehicle in neutral in order to check the transmission fluid.

  1. Pop the hood and locate the transmission fluid pipe.

The owner’s manual can help you to locate the fluid pipe. The dipstick will have a handle to help you remove the dipstick. In a front-wheel-drive, the dipstick will be located in the front of the engine. If your car is rear-wheel drive it will be located towards the back.

  1. Check the transmission fluid level.

Use a paper towel or a rag to clean off excess fluid. You will notice lines marking the dipstick. These lines are usually marked: Hot, Cold, and Do Not Add (styles and letters may vary). Re-insert the dipstick and pull it back out. The fluid level should read between these two lines. If the fluid reads below the bottom line, you will need to add fluid.

Transmission Fluid Dipstick

  1. Attend to any issues you may find.

If your fluid looks dark or burned, then the fluid will need to be flushed out. Burnt fluid will not protect or cool your engine components as it should. Seek out service from your local repair shop to address this issue. If you notice that the fluid has a milky color it may be a sign of more internal problems and you will want to get your vehicle in for service as soon as possible. If you notice that the fluid level is low, then add the correct type of fluid to get the levels to where they need to be.


Maintaining any and all fluid levels will help to keep your car or truck running smoothly. Fluid changes may be required from time to time based upon your vehicle’s age and the amount you use it. Routinely check all fluids in order to avoid costly repairs later

G&G Auto Repair

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