Some Basics About Transmission Fluid

Your transmission has an extremely important job to do, and can be easily overlooked. The transmission is responsible for the converting the power your vehicle’s engine creates to the wheels, which ultimately powers the strength and speed of your vehicle. Your car’s transmission consists of over 500 parts some important pieces being gears, bell housing, and filters. Another important part of a transmission is the transmission fluid which helps keep these parts well lubricated, it helps cool and transfer the engine’s power to the transmission. It is a good idea to check this fluid at least every 6 months (though you can’t check it too often) to help keep your car protected. See this handy infographic for tips on checking transmission fluid.

Image of Transmission in 800 Pieces - Transmission Service - Transmission Repair - AAMCO Colorado

Checking your transmission fluid is simple enough for anyone to learn how to do. First, with your gearshift in Neutral or Park, allow your engine to run. Your engine needs to be warm before you check the dipstick located under the hood. Next, remove the dipstick and dip the tip of your index finger in the fluid (that is on the dipstick) and rub the fluid between your thumb and finger. The transmission fluid should be pinkish and almost clear. If you find that your fluid smells burned, or has particles in it, your mechanic should drain and change the fluid. Your final step is to wipe the dipstick clean on a lint free rag, reinsert it, and remove it once more. If the fluid is clear but does not reach the ‘Full’ line on the dipstick, use a funnel to pour in enough fluid to reach the line. Or schedule an appointment at your preferred AAMCO location and we will evaluate your vehicle.

What is a Transmission Fluid Flush

A transmission flush is a relatively straightforward process. Typically, this procedure is performed using equipment that runs off the transmission pump, or has its own pump built into the machine. The machines are attached to the cooler lines; the old fluid gets pumped out while the new fluid is added in at the same rate the old fluid is being removed. Prior to the flush, if your transmission is particularly dirty, or you have a conscious mechanic, they may opt to run a solvent through as well. This solvent helps to remove deposits of old transmission fluid from parts and components. A benefit to this is that virtually all the old muck and fluid will be thoroughly cleaned out, whereas a simple flush cannot guarantee it has all been removed.

Should I get a Transmission Flush?

First thing’s first – check your manual! Some car manufacturers have explicitly stated their transmissions cannot (or should not) be flushed. Reviewing your manual may seem like an unnecessary step, but this is the operating guide of your car. If you have been experiencing issues with your transmission, and this has been recommended as a solution to your problem, it may be a good option for you to try. If you’ve been experiencing severe transmission troubles, this procedure is not for you. Transmissions get old and worn out, and there are some key signs your transmission needs repair.

Things to Consider

  1. Fluid color is not necessarily an indicator of a problem.The color of your transmission fluid does not always tell you the condition of the fluid. These fluids vary widely in color as it is, even new ones, and darkening of the transmission fluid over time is not abnormal. As always, there is an exception to this rule. If you discover black or burnt fluid, however this indicates there has already been a problem with the transmission.
  2. Transmission flushes do not address the filter or other components.When a proper full service transmission repair is performed, a skilled, well trained mechanic will test-drive your vehicle first. Next the transmission will be inspected for leaks and external issues. From the drive and inspection diagnosis, they may dig deeper to address the filter, or even the valve-body bolt torque. A full-service transmission repair differs from a transmission flush service which will only address the fluid.
  3. Too many flushes can cause problems.Too much of a good thing can cause problems, however. Flushes should be performed no more than every 30,000 – 100,000 miles. Bringing your vehicle in for a flush more than that can cause damage to the valves, seals, and other parts of the transmission.

Ultimately, you and your local AAMCO Certified mechanic should make this decision together. If your transmission fluid is already contaminated, this procedure will not be beneficial to you, therefore you should not proceed. However, if you are aware of problems, and have had your transmission serviced recently, a flush could help you get the most out of your transmission – for the long run! Don’t be afraid to ask questions, understand the process, and use your best judgement when deciding on how to maintain your transmission. Bring your vehicle into AAMCO Colorado for a FREE courtesy vehicle check and to ask us any questions you may have about your transmission.

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