While you don’t need a transmission flush for your vehicle too frequently, you shouldn’t write off this critical car maintenance task. In general, most vehicles need a transmission fluid change every 30,000 miles and flush every 2 years. However, certain conditions mean that your fluid might need to be changed or flushed more frequently.
What Does Transmission Fluid Do?
Transmission fluid is responsible for cooling and lubricating the transmission’s moving parts. The vast majority of transmission failures come as a result of overheating, which is typically preventable providing that the transmission fluid is in good condition. If you drive your vehicle frequently and for long distances, you will need your fluid changed and the system flushed on a more regular basis. When there is buildup and debris in the fluid, it will also be pushed into the transmission system, which forces it to work harder and heat up quicker.
Fluid Change vs. Fluid Flush
A transmission fluid change is the simplest transmission service. The majority of your transmission fluid will be drained, and the filter will be replaced. A fluid change will get the vast majority of dirt and debris out of your system and replace it with clean, new fluid. However, you will still have some old fluid lingering in the system.
A transmission fluid flush is more thorough and comprehensive. Unlike the change, this will remove all of the fluid from the transmission. If you have very dirty fluid or contaminated fluid, this is the only way to get all of it out. A mechanic will drain all of the old fluid out of the car, and new, clean fluid will be added in. This will help your car to perform the best that it can.
The Signs You Need a Transmission Flush
Other than the amount of time since you last had a transmission flush for your vehicle, there are many other signs that indicate you should get a transmission flush.
- Grinding: If you hear strange sounds or grinding coming from your transmission while you are driving, you should check fluid levels. If the level is fine, there’s a good chance the fluid inside is so dirty and gunky that you should get a transmission flush. If the fluid itself if brown or black, it’s also a sign that you need a transmission flush. New, clean transmission fluid should be bright red in color.
- Surging: Does your vehicle jump forward or surge backward while you drive? Your transmission fluid might be polluted, which is leading to an inconsistent flow of fluid to the transmission itself. Without clean fluid, the inconsistent flow will prevent gears and moving parts from shifting cleanly and correctly.
- Gear Trouble: If your gears are slipping or you are struggling when shifting gears, your transmission fluid might be the culprit. Anything that prevents fluid from cleanly flowing through your transmission system will affect how your car shifts and responds, and dirty transmission fluid does just that.
What Should You Expect?
While a transmission flush is more expensive than a transmission fluid change, there are some factors that can change how much you’ll spend and what your car requires for peak performance. Some of the factors that will affect your transmission flush include:
- The year, make and model of the car and transmission
- The type of flushing machine utilized
- The type of fluid required
- The amount of fluid needed
- Filter replacement, pan removal or other services