What is Transmission Fluid?
Transmission fluid is a highly oily liquid that acts as a lubricant for all of the moving parts inside your transmission. In an automatic transmission the fluid is typically RED. This fluid also serves as a coolant and a fluid that assist in transmitting power from the engine to the transmission.
Transmission fluid does 3 things:
- It Cools the Intense Transmission Heat caused by internal friction.
- It Cleans the surfaces reducing damage caused by metal and debris
- It Lubricates moving parts that wear together lessening excess wear
Just like your engine needs new oil and a new filter when its time to change the oil – your transmission needs the same thing. Yes, most transmissions do have filters. It is important to have your transmission filter changed when you change the transmission fluid.
At Ace Transmissions, we do not flush transmissions, we remove and clean the dirty oil pan, replace the old filter with a new one and fill the transmission with clean new fluid.
At Ace Transmissions this service is done for usually HALF the dealership price and typically at the same price as what a Quick Lube would charge for just changing the fluid (flush) and no new filter or clean pan. (About $125).
Read Further For More HEAVY TECHNICAL Information
The Transmission Flush
Most people are introduced to the importance of changing automatic transmission fluid through oil change technicians at a quick lube. Because most Quick Lube employees are NOT State licensed certified mechanics they cannot make repairs or remove and replace parts on your vehicle. However, they are able to circumvent this State restriction by using a pressurized professional transmission flusher that replaces the fluid by mixing OLD fluid with NEW fluid. On the surface this seems OK, but there is a caveat.
CAUTION: Although it’s wonderful to tell the customer that you changed the fluid and you now have great red color to show them, there is still a problem.
Since the ex-changers circulate the new fluid into the old it is likely that all the debris (like metal shavings) are still in the pan, on the magnet, and trapped in the filter. Only the contaminants small enough to go through the filter are recirculated throughout the system and evacuated out. Where did the rest of the contaminants and debris go then? Unfortunately they are still inside your transmission.
Shouldn’t I Change the Transmission Filter Too?
That’s easy! Yes and NO.
The transmission filter is probably quite capable of going several years of normal wear and still doing what it was designed to do, trap debris and contaminants. However, we recommend changing the filter, at best every 1 to 2 years and/or 20,000 miles or, at least 2 years and/or 40,000 miles.
The reason for this is that as the transmission begins to wear metal particles and or shavings begin to accumulate inside the pan and fluid. These particles are carried throughout the transmission and radiator until it is trapped in the filter, clogged in the radiator or caught by the magnet in the bottom of the pan. As the build up of debris increases inside the filter and inside the radiator there will be a decrease in the amount of fluid and pressure needed to clean, cool and lubricate the transmission.
As a result the transmission will run hotter than normal and while contaminated fluid doesn’t clean as well it allows excess friction on rubbing parts that can score or accelerate deterioration, or fail altogether.
Should I do this service when it’s recommended?
Yes, definitely, regardless of whether you have a manual or an automatic transmission.
Manual: Most manufacturers recommend that manual transmission fluid be changed every 30,000 under IDEAL conditions. Under heavy-duty use, some manufacturers suggest changing transmission fluid every 15,000 miles. The transmission industry aftermarket has recommended that under normal driving conditions that the transmission fluid should be changed every 20,000 miles or 1 year.
Why do I have to do this?
Manual: In a manual transmission, the problem is not so much the fluid degradation, but rather fluid contamination. This contamination occurs over time as the synchronizers, bearings and gears in the transmission wear out. The resulting metal particles then float around in the lubricant.
And we all know that oil with microscopic particles of metal in it does not lubricate as well as clean oil. So if these contaminants are not drained out, they will shorten the life of your transmission. It may act like sand paper.
Automatic: Because more heat is generated in an automatic transmission, automatic transmission fluid actually degrades and breaks down with use.
In addition, like in a manual transmission, automatic transmission fluid will also become contaminated with worn bits of the transmission. If these contaminants are not drained out, they will shorten the life of your transmission.
Can I Wait? What happens if I don’t do this?
If you don’t change the transmission fluid on schedule, you’ll be lubricating your transmission with metal shavings and other contaminants. This will shorten the transmission’s life. It will cause excess heat that further breaks down the fluid and more debris. The Longer the interval between services, the sooner and higher the cost of the repair can be. In other words, changing your transmission fluid at the correct interval is a good investment.
Is there any maintenance required between intervals?
Automakers have gotten better in recent years about labeling or color-coding dipsticks. The ring on the right is red to match the automatic transmission fluid, the level of which this dipstick measures. The yellow ring is clearly marked “engine oil.”
Yes. It’s important to regularly check the transmission fluid level between service intervals. Letting your car run low on transmission fluid can cause the transmission to shift improperly — or not at all. It also can harm the internal parts of your transmission, which will not be properly lubricated.
Unfortunately, you may not hear any noises or have other clues that your transmission is low on fluid, until it’s too late. So it’s important to get it checked. Unlike engine oil, transmission oil doesn’t burn up. So if you’re low on transmission fluid, you almost certainly have a leak.
The Radiator Cools My What?
The water pump circulates a liquid coolant/antifreeze through the engine block where it is heated, and then pushes the heated coolant through the radiator where moving air-cools it down to the proper temperature. As the radiator circulates contaminants and debris, its ability to circulate the correct amount of fluid decreases and eventually it clogs up, the engine overheats and well, you know the rest.
Because most customers understand this, it is sometimes easier to sell the radiator service in the winter and hot summers. This is when people can SEE the effects of heat on the engine in the form of steam and eventually being stranded.
But what most drivers don’t understand is that the radiator also cools the transmission fluid. As a service technician some take this for granted and assume the driver knows this, but they fail to mention it in our transmission service presentations.
The radiator system cools the transmission in the same way as the vehicles engine does and is JUST AS critical to include in the presentation as if they were selling the coolant system flush by itself. The ability to GET the sale increases when the customer understands the “WHY You Should” rather than the “IF YOU DON’T” scenario and feeling trapped or bullied into the sale.
A customer who feels they are in control and made the decision based on your knowledgeable and professional advice is a happy sale. So they should explain how the radiator is a critical part of what keeps the transmission working properly by cooling and circulating the transmission fluid the same as the coolant, every time, and they can see how many positive responses you get in relation to when you didn’t.
Call Ace Transmissions Grand Rapids Today (616)364-5586 for our NO CHARGE DIAGNOSTIC!
At Ace Transmissions Grand Rapids, we WANT to invite you to our facility, talk to our ASE Certified Technicians and Mechanics at any time. You are encouraged to ride with our Technicians during our NO CHARGE DIAGNOSTIC, ask questions and visit us in our shop during the INSPECTION and/or repair of your Transmissions!!