How Often Should You Change Transmission Fluid?

check-transmission-fluid

Automatic Transmission Fluid is one of the things most people don’t spend much time thinking about. In fact, lack of transmission fluid changes is the top killer of transmissions. Worst of all, a transmission fluid change is a fairly cheap maintenance task, especially compared to the cost of a replacement transmission.

How Often Should You Change Transmission Fluid?

We generally recommend changing your transmission fluid every 30,000 miles. This will help ensure that your transmission stays working in top shape for as long as possible. Some manufacturers say you can go 40, 50, 60, or even 100 thousand miles between transmission changes, but since there’s no harm in changing it more often, there’s no real reason not to.

Checking Your Transmission Fluid

If you want to be sure about your transmission fluid’s condition, you can check it yourself! As luck would have it, we have an entire blog post on how to check your transmission fluid. If you already know how to locate and remove your dipstick, you’ll just need to put a drop on a white paper towel and compare the color to the chart below.

atf-color

If your transmission fluid looks close to the first 2 dots in the image above, you’re probably OK for a little while. Anything close to the second 2 colors should be changed ASAP. If it looks like the last 2 dots, I would start putting money aside for a transmission replacement, as a fluid change may not help at this point.

A word on cost

The average cost of a transmission fluid and filter replacement is about $150, while the average cost of a replace a transmission is about $3300.

I know which one I’d choose!