You probably change the oil in your car or truck regularly. Most people follow a schedule to get this done or do it themselves every few months. Have you given any thought to changing the automatic transmission fluid? This lubricant works very hard and is subjected to lots of heat and pressure every time you drive. Just as your engine cannot run without oil, the transmission will not work without fluid. The fluid is a lubricant and cooling aide to the many complicated clutches and gears of a transmission. It should be changed on an interval as recommended in your manual, but at least every 30,000 miles.
One way to assess the fluid is to carefully pull the dipstick while the car is running, wipe and reinsert, then pull to check the fluid level. You should wipe a bit on a white paper towel and check the color which should be a clear red. You can also smell the fluid for traces of a burnt odor. If you see more brown than red color and smell any burnt fluid it is important to change the fluid right away. If your transmission has been shifting hard or slipping between shifts you might be able to save the high cost of a rebuild by changing the fluid. You can find transmission service at most oil change facilities and there are many shops that specialize in this. It is worth the cost to change transmission fluid and possibly save your transmission.
There may be a difference in the pricing of fluid changes, and this can be due to the method used. Some shops will suck the fluid out of the transmission with a machine and then simply refill it. This does not do what you really need. There is old fluid in the transmission that the machine will not access that will mix with the new fluid added. The only proper way to accomplish this change is to drop the transmission pan, unless you are lucky enough to have a screw in drain plug. Some vehicles have a drain plug and a screw in external transmission filter which makes the job much easier. Without these items the fluid change will be more involved and certainly messier. There is an internal filter that should be changed or cleaned when you change fluid.
In most cases you will not be able to do this at home. If you are able to lift the car sufficiently and have the correct tools you might accomplish this service, but for most it will be a challenge. In any case the transmission takes a lot of fluid and the filter is more costly than an engine oil filter. You should expect to pay anywhere from about $100 for an average car to $200 for a larger truck or SUV for a professional service. You should be sure to check the internet for coupons and specials, check the cost to change transmission fluid and save some money on this often ignored, but still very important maintenance.
A discussion on Oil Change Frequency
The next time you are cruising in your fine automobile look at the little sticker in the top left hand corner of your windshield and see what the recommended time period for your next oil change is. It will include a date for recommended oil change or a set amount of miles till your next service. There is a good chance this reminder will say the oil needs to be changed after 3000 miles. This has been the advice since your grandpa was knee high to a grasshopper but is it really necessary to change the oil that often?
The answer lies in the pages of your trusty owner’s manual that should be sitting in your glove box. If you have misplaced yours or never got one to begin with you can find all the relevant information online by looking up your automobile via year and manufacturer. As automobile technology has improved and the oil industry has created better quality engine oils the length between changes may have changed for your vehicle. Most automakers now call for 7,500 up to 10,000 miles before the next service. That is up to three times longer than what the local oil change shop recommends.
So who is right? The average local service place or dealer has a vested interest in getting you to come in every 3000 miles which, of course, is profit. Every time you pull in there is a possibility of finding something else that you can be up sold besides the standard oil replacement. Air filters, wipers, and small engine repairs can add thousands of dollars to the company’s bottom line. That’s good if you’re in the oil change business. Not so much if you are the consumer who wants to look after their vehicle at an affordable price. One other reason the oil change places recommend the 3000 mile change is because they use what is called the severe driving conditions recommendation found in the owner’s manual. Unfortunately, they have usually not gotten around to reading the newer manuals that have increased even the severe driving conditions recommendations to higher levels.
If you drive a Hyundai or Kia with a turbo engine you will need to change the oil every 5000 according to the manufacturer. Most others will be 7,500 to 10,000 so check your manual to be sure. When it comes to looking after your automobile, do not take the advice of dealerships and lube shops that have a clearly vested interest in profiting off you to the maximum. Instead take what they say with a grain of salt, do your own research and consult with minimum three to four different sources to find the most effective and affordable oil change option out there. There are always good auto shops and lube services that will give you the bang for your buck that you deserve. Quality businesses understand that by offering you a fair price, and doing a great job they will win your business time and time again, not to mention gain some referrals. TIP: Looking for an even better deal? Keep an eye out for high quality companies that offer oil change coupon discounts.