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How Often You Need to Change Your Transmission Fluid

POR: Keith Benline
A mechanic changing the fluid out of an automatic transmission vehicle.

With summer winding down, now is the perfect time to prepare your car for the fall and winter weather. For most vehicles, this will include routine maintenance tasks like getting an engine oil change, checking your battery, ensuring your tires are at the correct tire pressure (PSI) and even giving your car a much-needed deep cleaning

But while these are common maintenance items that most people tend to do out of habit, there are things that many car owners may not know to do, such as having your transmission fluid changed. 

What Does a Car’s Transmission Do?

El transmission in a car or truck is a very important component of a vehicle’s powertrain that converts the energy generated by the engine into the torque the drive wheels need to move. This happens because the transmission regulates the gear ratio between the engine and drive wheels changes correctly when your vehicle slows down or speeds up. 

In simpler terms, the transmission ensures that the right amount of power gets transferred to your wheels to drive at a specific speed. This is why transmissions have gears. The lower transmission gears are used to make sure your car or truck has the power to move the car forward from a dead stop or low speeds. For any vehicle, you’ll use higher transmission gears for traveling at higher speeds where less torque and power are needed.

Transmissions can come in a few different forms, with the most popular options being manual and automatic transmission. A manual transmission will require you to switch gears manually for the transmission to operate correctly. This is done using a shifter, clutch, and flywheel. On the other hand, automatic transmissions are the most common as they only need to be put into “drive” to enjoy the vehicle as they shift gears automatically.

What Does Transmission Fluid Do?

Transmission fluid works very similarly to other fluids in your vehicle as it provides lubrication for moving parts within your transmission. Without transmission fluid, your transmission would become very hot due to the friction of the moving parts. This would cause your transmission to not work properly, or at worse, result in complete transmission failure, meaning you’ll need an entirely new transmission which could cost you miles de dólares. Even driving with a low transmission fluid level or old fluid that has not been changed for some time can potentially damage your car.

Overall though, the main job of transmission fluid in manual transmissions is to keep the internal parts lubricated and the transmission cool. While there are fewer moving pieces in a manual transmission, it still requires the use of fluid to keep the parts lubricated.

In automatic transmissions, the fluid does the same as in a manual while also providing hydraulic pressure and friction to make the internal components work properly. Due to its intricate design, an automatic transmission uses hydraulic pressure to shift gears effortlessly and automatically. This is one of the reasons why you may not feel the transmission shifting while driving an automatic vehicle. 

However, while transmission fluid works practically the same way in automatic and manual transmissions, they don’t always use the same fluid. For example, some automakers of automatic vehicles or those with continuously variable transmissions (CVTs), like Honda, may require special automatic transmission fluid. You could risk damaging your vehicle if you don’t use a recommended transmission fluid. Because of this, it’s always best to review your owner’s manual to learn the specific kind of transmission fluid your vehicle needs.

How Often Should I Change Transmission Fluid?

When it comes to maintaining any vehicle, having a regular maintenance schedule that includes your car’s manufacturer’s recommendations for fluid change intervals is vital and will help extend the life of your transmission. Going too long without changing your transmission fluid can cause unnecessary and costly repairs. However, depending on your vehicle’s make and model, you may have a different schedule regarding service intervals for your transmission. Because of this, you will need to refer to your owner’s manual to determine the recommended interval when you should change your car’s transmission fluid.

You should also listen to your vehicle to know when to change your fluid. Most newer vehicles have very informative gauges alerting when your next maintenance service is due on your dashboard. If your vehicle has a built-in transmission fluid change notification, you can use this as a reminder of when you need to have your transmission fluid changed.

Lastly, you can have your mechanic check your transmission fluid to see if they recommend a transmission fluid change when conducting their regular tune-ups. However, most mechanics will check your car’s essential fluids during routine maintenance checks. This is to help identify potential problems. They’ll even inspect your engine and transmission filters. In fact, most certified mechanics and service centers can help you know if you need new fluid just by looking or smelling the transmission fluid with the transmission dipstick. 

Unexpected Breakdown Coverage From Endurance

Keeping up with your vehicle’s maintenance schedule is essential to keeping your car running at its best. This not only allows your car to last longer, but it can also help to prevent breakdowns from neglected maintenance. But while keeping your car maintained can help keep your vehicle from breaking down, sometimes, parts simply fail, causing unexpected breakdowns and potentially costly trips to an automotive repair shop. So instead of dealing with unexpected and costly repairs, get the peace of mind you’re looking for with an Endurance auto protection plan

Like a car’s factory warranty, Endurance plans are designed to protect your vehicle’s vital components from breakdowns and repairs, including your transmission, engine, brakes and more. But unlike coverage from an automaker, Endurance can keep your vehicle covered without limiting you to just the dealership for repairs, as you’ll be able to go to any Mecánico certificado ASE or repair shop of your choice. Plus, whether you’re looking for complete vehicle protection or basic powertrain coverage starting as low as just $79/month, Endurance has the plan for you.  

But that’s not all, as you’ll Endurance can help keep you covered no matter where you are with complimentary services, like 24/7 roadside assistance and towing, trip interruption coverage and rental car reimbursement. You can also activate a full year of Beneficios de Endurance Élite, which includes coverage for tire replacements or repairs, collision discounts and more, to enjoy even more perks and savings. 

Request a free quote online or call a customer care team member to learn more about Endurance’s protection plans that fit your specific budget and needs. You can also find more great and helpful articles on topics including DIY car tips, vehicle buying guides, and more by visiting the Endurance blog.

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