How Do I Know When My Transmission Fluid Needs to Be Changed?

How do I tell if my transmission fluid is bad?

Your transmission will show signs of trouble.

Things such as trouble going into gear, hard shifts or thumps between gears, slipping or jumping gears, delay in acceleration, and strange noises such as whining or grinding are all signs it’s time to change the transmission fluid.

The transmission consists of about 800 parts, including gears, bell housing, and filters.

image of transmission in 800 pieces, suspended in mid-air.Another important part of a transmission is the transmission fluid.

Transmission fluid is used in automatic transmission cars as a lubricant that keeps the transmission from overheating and helps power the transmission by creating pressure and torque. Transmission fluid can become dirty, contaminated and worn out. The transmission will not work correctly and ultimately overheat and break down if the fluid is not maintained properly.

Related: Automatic Transmission Fluid Overview

Transmission fluids vary widely in color.

Even new fluids can be vastly different – and darkening of the transmission fluid over time is not abnormal.

However, there is an exception to this rule. If you discover black or burnt fluid, this indicates there has already been a problem with the transmission and/or the fluid itself. Get your car to a transmission technician as soon as possible if you discover anything that indicates harsh breakdown or burning fluid.

Check the transmission fluid regularly.

It is a good idea to check the transmission fluid about every 6 months. See this handy infographic for tips on checking transmission fluid.

Transmission fluid color is a good indicator of wear and tear.

Though color is a good visual way to estimate the age and condition of the transmission fluid, it is not necessarily an indicator of a terrible problem. The color of your transmission fluid is a good place to start when it comes to diagnosing issues, but it does not always give you an accurate measure of its condition. image of transmission fluid color chart If in doubt, the best thing to do is have a professional transmission technician check the transmission, run a diagnosis, and go from there. You might discover there is nothing major wrong, and all you need is a fluid change, or a transmission flush.

Related: Benefits of a Transmission Fluid Flush

What’s a transmission fluid flush?

A transmission flush uses pressurized force to send fresh oil and cleaning solvents through the system and remove all of the old fluid and contaminants. New oil is then pumped into the transmission.

A transmission flush acts as a complete cleansing of all the old fluid, but if your transmission fluid has already been contaminated for some time, or the transmission has been running hot and experiencing problems, this procedure might not do much good.

AAMCO Colorado Transmission Repair Experts Can Help

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 – consult a professional transmission mechanic. 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 might have about your transmission.

Related: Signs of a Blown Transmission

If you have questions about your car’s road readiness, or about car repair and maintenance topics, AAMCO Colorado can help. You can also use the AAMCO Colorado Ask a Mechanic feature to submit your auto repair questions. They will be answered by a real AAMCO Colorado mechanic as soon as possible.

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