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What is a Transmission Service?

transmission service is a regular part of routine car maintenance, just like an oil change. The primary aspect of a transmission service is flushing out the old transmission fluid and replacing it with new fluid. However, a complete transmission service should also include: examining the sump pump or pan (if possible), replacing or cleaning the filter, cleaning the pan and installing it with a new pan gasket.

What is Transmission Fluid?

Transmission fluid is the fluid that lubricates the moving parts inside your car’s transmission. In an automatic transmission vehicle, this fluid also serves several other purposes including as a coolant.

What Type of Transmission Fluid Do I Need?

Different fluids are used for different types of transmissions. Automatic transmissions use Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF). Manual transmissions can use a variety of fluids including motor oil, hypoid gear oil and in some cases automatic transmission fluid. You should always consult your owners manual for which transmission fluid is right for your car.

When Should I Get a Transmission Service?

You should get a transmission service according to the intervals suggested in your owners manual. This will vary depending on if you are driving manual or automatic transmission car.

Manual vs. Automatic Transmission Service Intervals

Manual Transmission Service

In manual transmission cars, the main problem is that transmission fluid is easily contaminated over time as metal bearings and gears inside the transmission begin to wear down. These little metal particles float around the transmission fluid and cause it to no longer lubricate as effectively. If these contaminants aren’t drained out regularly they with shorter the life of your car’s transmission. Most manufacturers recommend transmission service be performed every 30,000-60,000k miles for a manual transmission car.

Automatic Transmission Service

In automatic transmissions more heat is generated, this can cause the automatic transmission fluid to actually break down and degrade with use over time. Also, as with manual transmission fluid, the fluid will become contaminated over time with parts of worn transmission and if they are not flushed out then they can shorten the life of your car’s transmission. Transmission service for most automatic cars is typically suggested every 60,000-100,000 miles.

What is Maintenance is Required Between Services?

In between your transmission services you should check the level of your transmission fluid regularly. Running low on transmission fluid can irreparably harm your transmission, as it will not be properly lubricated. While there are sometimes warning signs, such as noises, there can often be no indication that your transmission fluid is running low so checking your levels regularly is important to make sure you don’t have a leak.

What if I Never Get a Transmission Service?

If you never have a transmission service performed your transmission fluid will become contaminated with metal shavings and other particles over time. Using contaminated fluid will shorter the lifespan of your transmission.

Signs You Should Check Your Transmission

On some occasions, transmission fluid can become contaminated to the point that it needs to be flushed before the manufactures specifications. Even if you have not reached the indicated service mileage indicated by your cars owners’ manual, you should have your transmission checked out if you are noticing the following symptoms:

  1. If you hear grinding sounds from underneath the car while the engine is running

  2. If you are having trouble shifting gears

  3. If your car slips between gears

  4. If your car doesn’t move when you push the gas pedal

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