How to Change Transmission Fluid: DIY Vehicle Maintenance
It’s important for all drivers to stay on top of vehicle maintenance. Some car care is easy to do yourself, while other maintenance requires an experienced mechanic. We can teach you to change transmission fluid, or you can bring your vehicle to Kernersville Auto Center for a quick appointment.
When Should I Change My Transmission Fluid?
Transmission fluid is not like oil; you don’t need to change it as regularly. Over time, oil collects the dirt and grime from driving, and if you don’t change it regularly your engine will become clogged and overheat. Transmission fluid also doesn’t burn off as is the case with engine oil. In a well-working vehicle, you don’t need a transmission flush very often.
So how do you know when it’s time to change your transmission fluid? The best indicator is your vehicle’s maintenance recommendations from the manufacturers. You could need a flush after just 30,000-50,000 miles. On the other hand, your vehicle’s manufacturer might recommend waiting until 100,000 miles or more. If you’re not sure, our experienced mechanics would be happy to check for you.
Since transmission fluid doesn’t burn off like oil, it shouldn’t get low. However, it can be too low if there is a leak. Transmission fluid is generally red. So, if you see a red puddle under your vehicle, it’s a good indication that you not only need to change your fluid, but you also need transmission repair.
How to Change Transmission Fluid at Home, Step by Step
If it is time to change your transmission fluid, this is something you may feel comfortable doing at home. Of course, we ALWAYS recommend caution and making sure you’re truly capable of safely changing the fluid yourself. If you have questions, please call us.
You will need a jack, ramp, pit, or lift in order to get under your vehicle. Make sure you allow the engine to cool completely after driving it into position (and, of course, putting it into park and turning it off).
Once you’ve lifted your vehicle, you’ll need to find the transmission fluid pan, which could be at the front or center of your vehicle. Some vehicles have a plug to easily drain the fluid. In other vehicles, you’ll need to detach the entire pan, which is typically attached using 6-8 bolts. Make sure you use eye protection and gloves.
Be ready to catch the old fluid using a drain pan. Inspect the old fluid for any large pieces of metal that could indicate a major problem. Don’t worry if you see discoloration or some metal particles, as this is normal.
Most of the time, you don’t need to replace the filter. However, you should carefully inspect it to make sure there are no cracks or holes. If there are, you’ll need to remove the filter as well and bolt a new one into place.
After removing the old fluid and inspecting the filter, you can bolt the pan or plug back into place. Then, you’re ready to add new fluid. Lower your vehicle and find the red transmission fluid port under your hood. Use a funnel to pour the correct type of transmission fluid into your vehicle and then check the dipstick to ensure it is at the right level after running your engine for a few minutes.
Is Fluid Flushing Easy?
While you can change your transmission fluid at home, keep in mind that this isn’t really the same as a full transmission flush. At our shop, we don’t just drain the old transmission fluid and add new fluid. Instead, we use special equipment to flush the system, which loosens any debris caught in your transmission. This gives you much cleaner results and can help prevent transmission problems in the future.
There are a few other reasons you may want to bring in your car instead of doing it yourself at home:
We get rid of the old transmission fluid for you so you don’t have to dispose of hazardous waste.
This can be a very dirty job, so you can avoid being covered in dirt and grime by coming to our shop instead.
It’s easy to over-tighten the bolts of the pan or plug, which can cause warping or cracking.
Our shop gets you in and out quickly so you can get on with your day. Don’t spend an entire weekend afternoon dealing with your vehicle maintenance.
We’ll also do a thorough inspection of the entire system to see if there are any potential issues that could cause transmission problems in the future. We know what normal fluid should look like.
Keep in mind that we can do a transmission fluid flushing when your car is in our shop anyway for brake repair, an oil change, or any other service. It’s an easy add-on to keep your vehicle working properly.
Our experienced car care team would love to answer any questions you may have about how to change transmission fluid. We want you to make the best possible decisions for your vehicle. Here are a few common questions to get you started:
What happens if I don’t change my transmission fluid?
Transmission fluid allows your car to shift gears properly. If you don’t change your transmission fluid when needed, you could experience grinding during shifting, gear slipping, whining noises, and problems putting your car into reverse. Eventually, dirty fluid can cause major transmission problems and expensive repairs.
Will dirty transmission fluid cause my check engine light to come on?
In some cases, yes, your transmission light might come on for dirty fluid. It depends on how dirty the fluid is, if the fluid is low, and your vehicle’s make and model. Do not rely on this light. Instead, stick to your owner’s manual recommendation.
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