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How Often Should I Change My Transmission Oil?

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Many fluids run throughout your car’s engine, but one of the most important ones to keep track of is the car’s transmission fluid.

The majority of the manufacturer’s maintenance schedules for many automatic transmissions don’t require fresh fluid until 100,000 miles. However, many expert mechanics disagree with this schedule and urge their customers to change their transmission fluid at least every 50,000 miles. In general, manual transmissions require more conventional gear oil rather than automatic transmission fluid. They tend to be on a different maintenance schedule, so it’s best to consult the service intervals in the owner’s manual.

How does the type of driving affect your transmission fluid?

Like other vital automotive fluids, transmission fluid declines over time. Stop and go city driving, hauling heavy loads, and trailer towing, all will worsen your transmission fluid over time.  Notably, this type of hard-driving raises the transmission’s functioning temperature. Higher temperatures or heat can strain the transmission and the fluid. Contrast with engine oil, which is considered a lubricant, transmission fluid serves as both an oil and a hydraulic fluid that helps facilitate the gear shifts, as well as lubricates moving parts.

In general, If you do a lot of driving under high-stress conditions, you should check the transmission fluid level frequently. Most of the time, transmission fluid is red but can also be found in other colors. However, as transmission fluids deteriorate, it tends to turn darker. Similarly, it may also acquire a burned odor that can be indicative that the transmission is developing mechanical problems.

How to Check Your Transmission Fluid

Since the majority of modern vehicles don’t have a transmission fluid dipstick, it’s recommended that a service center or your mechanic, check the fluid level underneath the car.  Your car’s owner’s manual will indicate if you have a dipstick that’s easily accessible.

Moreover, another indicator that the transmission fluid may need changing is if there are particles or other debris in the fluid.  

If you have never checked or changed the transmission fluid in your car and the car has been driven for over 100,000 miles, the question is whether you should change it now? Some mechanics will say that you should just leave it alone, as long as you’re not having any shifting problem. We say after 100,000 miles, you should probably consider just changing the oil.   

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