How to Change Your Transmission Fluid

Your car’s transmission is vital for the health of the car. It is one of the most crucial components because it provides the necessary thrust to the wheels and the required power that enables you to maneuver the car seamlessly. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that you maintain the transmission in impeccable order by getting it evaluated regularly by a transmission expert. To start with, you must take care of the little things that could translate into big problems if not heeded in time. One such step that sounds simple enough is to flush your transmission fluid and replace with a fresh supply.

Don’t get taken in by claims of your car manufacturer that the transmission fluid lasts for the lifetime of the car. Instead, follow a routine of evaluating the fluid level and changing it periodically, which could be every 30,000-50,000 miles.

Signs that tell you it’s time to change

It’s not only the “how” that’s important, but also, the “when.” As the fluid ages, you might have problems in shifting through the gears, or your car might even stall, jerk, or become sluggish at intersections. However, you need not wait for these signals. Preempt the problem by referring to your service book to know when to change the fluid. If you don’t have the physical copy, you can browse the Internet to get a fair idea.

Take a peek

If you want to throw theory aside and take the practical route, engage in a little bit of do-it-yourself exercise by checking the fluid yourself. When you take the dipstick out, observe the color and smell of the fluid. Transmission fluid is normally bright red and smells like petroleum. If the color is any different and the odor is like burnt oil, it’s high time you changed the transmission fluid. What’s worse, there is a chance that the transmission mechanism may already be stressed or damaged.

How much does a fluid change cost?

Once you have established that the fuel needs to be changed—preferably with some professional help and advice—the next step is to follow a well-established routine to change the fluid and get the transmission back in healthy condition. If you decide to go through the process at the service station, a fluid change could set you back by about $100 to $150. However, if you are a self-believer, you can do it yourself at half the cost. You only need to invest in the transmission fluid, the filter, and the gasket at most.

The fluid-changing routine

The process of changing the transmission fluid can be accomplished by the following steps, but it is advisable to invest the extra dough by seeking professional assistance.

  1. After gathering the necessary tools, ramp up the car securely and create enough space for you to wriggle underneath.
  2. Locate the transmission pan with the help of your service book. It will be secured by bolts below the transmission
  3. If you are lucky, you will be able to flush the pan and drain the fluid by opening a drain plug. If not, you might have to do it the hard way by removing the pan completely. In the former case, place a collection unit below the drain plug. In the latter case, you’ll need a collection unit that covers the entire pan, so that you don’t end up with a mess.
  4. Drain the fluid completely, including the remnant trapped in the pan.
  5. Inspect the filter and gasket and replace them if necessary.
  6. Secure the pan back on, and then use a funnel to pour the fresh fluid that matches the specifications required for your car.
  7. Rev up the engine and check that the fluid level is ideal.
  8. Ensure that you are well-protected through the entire process with gloves to avoid contact with the fluid.
  9. Take care of your environment by disposing of the discarded fluid in a designated drop-off area.

If you managed to go through the fluid-changing routine yourself, you deserve kudos for a job well done. But even otherwise, there is a big takeaway: you have just successfully extended the lifetime of your transmission by nipping a growing problem in the bud. The few bucks that you invest in changing your transmission fluid have effectively saved you much more in the future.

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