Transmission Fluids

When Your Transmission Fluid Should & Should Not Be Serviced

Transmission Fluid Video


[pullquote style=”right” quote=”light”]Does your transmission fluid need to be serviced? Click Here to schedule a free fluid evaluation.[/pullquote] Hello again. Dallas Council back from AAMCO Transmissions of Venice and today, I want to talk to you about when it is a good time to change your automatic transmission fluid and when it is not OK to change your automatic transmission fluid.

Like all the other fluids and oils in your car, you want to change them as part of a routine maintenance schedule. Never do you want to wait until you are encountering a problem, a breakdown or a mechanical failure of some sort and then decide it’s time to change your fluid. In most cases, that would just be a waste of money because the new fluid is not going to correct or cure the existing mechanical hydraulic problem, whichever the case may be.

So today, we want to talk specifically about the transmission fluid and when it is a good time to change the transmission fluid. As a rule of thumb, every 20,000 to 30,000 miles is when you want to change your transmission fluid. Transmission fluid is a little bit different  than engine oil because it has to not only lubricate, it also has to disperse heat.

So clean, healthy transmission fluid should be cherry red and translucent. It should look something very similar to this. In this bottle right here is a brand new transmission fluid that we’ve pumped out of our wheels here at the shop. It doesn’t have zero miles on it and that’s what healthy transmission fluid looks like. This is what your transmission fluid should look like as you’re changing it. Keep in mind it is going to get a little bit darker than this as you use the transmission and it builds up heat. The fluid is going to lose viscosity and will begin to darken just a little bit and that is natural. That is why you need to change it every 20,000 to 30,000 miles.

Samples of Transmission Fluid

Transmission fluid that should not be changed or at least the transmission should be looked at very closely by an expert is when the transmission fluid looks like this. This is dark, over-extended transmission fluid. What happens is as it builds up heat, this fluid will begin to varnish and turn this color. Once it has turned this color, it may be too late. It may not be a good idea to change your transmission fluid. It could also be indication of a problem.

So I would highly advise you to have a specialist look at the transmission before you consider changing the transmission fluid when it’s in this condition and I will just show you both of them. This is the healthy transmission fluid. This is the dark and burned transmission fluid. You can see the clear difference between the two there.

A third condition that we see sometimes is transmission fluid that is contaminated. Transmission fluid can become contaminated in one of two ways. Either it gets a substance in whether it’s water or something mixing from outside of the transmission in which case the transmission fluid will develop a real milky look like this. This transmission fluid here has been mixed with water or if you have a mechanical failure or hydraulic failure inside the transmission, it will generate contaminants which will be fine metal particles.

What I have here that I wanted to show you are two magnets and you can kind of see them there. I’ve taken these magnets out of the bottom of a transmission pan that has failed. You can see that they’re highly contaminated with a sooty-looking substance and that is what happens when metal parts make contact with metal parts and there’s no lubrication there. It creates that metal substance.

At that point, you definitely, definitely do not want to change your transmission fluid. What will happen is that new fluid is highly detergent. It’s going to wash all the particles free, get hung in various working components and cause you some additional trouble that you definitely don’t want to deal with.

At that point, what you need to do is get to the bottom of what is causing that material to come in your transmission and then take the correct course of action at that point.

So I hope this video was helpful. It’s a very common question that we get. Should I flush my transmissions? Should I just drain and fill it? Should I take the pan down and change the filter and gasket?

All those questions we can answer for you on a case by case basis but I highly advice you, before you just take the recommendation from a Jiffy Lube or a Quik Stop, get the opinion of an expert. It could save you a lot of time and money and aggravation.

So again, from your friends at AAMCO Transmissions of Venice, thank you and have a great day.

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