Transmission Fluid Change Cost (Best Cost Estimate)

You will need to change your automatic transmission fluid (ATF) if you drive a car equipped with one and do this per the manufacturer’s change interval. In most cases, it will happen every 100,000 miles. The transmission fluid filter will also need changing.

Although changing your transmission fluid and filter is a relatively simple task, many car owners prefer to have a professional do this job. This is because it is more complicated than the simpler ones. We can help you if you want to do it yourself.

This guide will explain everything you need about transmission fluid. It includes what it is and how often you should change it. We also discuss what transmission fluid change costs.

We will also provide a step-by-step guide for how to change your transmission fluid at home.

Transmission Fluid Change Cost

Transmission fluid change costs range from $80 to $250 if your fluid is changed by a dealer, service center, or independent mechanic. The average cost is around $100 for both automatic and manual transmissions.

You can expect to pay around $80 for the parts, but this will vary depending on the fluid type and how many quarts you have. You will also need a new transmission filter and possibly a pan gasket.

 Transmission Fluid Change Cost
Range$80 to $250
Do it Yourself$50 to $90
Mechanic$90 to $150
Dealership$150 to $250

To find out the exact cost of your specific repairs, get a quote from your local dealership or mechanic; this can be done over the phone. The most important factor in any estimate or quote they give you is the vehicle’s make, year, and model.

The shop’s total cost will include taxes and disposal fees depending on where they are located.

What is Transmission Fluid?

Transmission fluid is a lubricant that lubricates all moving parts of your car’s transmission. It also serves as a coolant, viscous fluid, and helps transmit power from your engine in automatic transmissions.

Different types of transmission fluids can be used in a car, depending on which vehicle has them. Manual transmissions can use any oil, including regular motor oil and specialized gear oil. Automatic transmissions use automatic transmission fluid.

Your car will determine which type of fluid to use, so make sure you check the manufacturer’s recommendations.

What Is A Transmission Fluid Change?

A transmission fluid change occurs when the fluid in your transmission system is replaced. The fluid in a transmission system can become contaminated with time due to wear and tear on the components. This causes some debris to get into the fluid. These particles will settle in the oil and won’t be able to lubricate as well as fresh oil. This could affect your transmission’s lifespan negatively.

The fluid will begin to degrade in cars that have a manual transmission. An automatic transmission system’s components are subject to the same wear as a manual system. This can also cause fluid contamination. These factors can lead to the gradual degradation of transmission systems over time. Regular transmission fluid changes are therefore recommended.

How Often Should You Change Your Transmission Fluid?

How Often Should You Change Your Transmission Fluid
Credits: Chatchai Kritsetsakul / Shutterstock

Transmission fluids is similar to motor oil and must be periodically changed along with the filter to ensure your vehicle’s proper functioning. Every 30,000-60,000 miles, or every two years, a transmission fluid replacement should be performed. To find out the recommended maintenance interval, consult your car’s owner manual.

What Are The Signs You Need Transmission Fluid Change?

Some of the most frequent signs that tell that you should change your transmission fluids are:

  1. Incapacity to shift
  2. Gear slippage
  3. Shifts that are not regular
  4. Delayed gear shifts
  5. Transmission that has been overheated

Benefits Of A Transmission Fluid Change

Regularly changing the transmission fluid will keep it in top condition and prevent any severe damage. This can extend the life expectancy of transmission components and save you money in repairs.

It is expensive to repair or replace a transmission. Take precautions to make sure it remains in top condition.

You can identify potential problems ahead of time by checking your transmission fluid regularly. The dipstick should be checked once a month. If the fluid is still red, it is in good condition. It’s time to change it if it has a dark color or a strong smell. You should top up your levels if they are low.

Also Read: Transmission Fluid Colors & What They Mean

How To Check And Refill Transmission Fluid

How To Check And Refill Transmission Fluid
Credits: CC7 / Shutterstock

Here is a step-by-step guide on how you can check your transmission fluid level and also refill it if need be.

  1. Place your car on a flat surface. Your parking brake may be required.
  2. Then, start your engine.
  3. Make sure your car is in neutral or park.
  4. If your vehicle’s manual states otherwise, allow your engine to heat up and then continue to run.
  5. After the engine is turned off, some levels of automatic transmission fluid are checked.
  6. The automatic transmission fluid dipstick is located where the transaxle or transmission meets the rear of the engine. It may look similar to an oil dipstick.
  7. Make sure you remove the dipstick for automatic transmission fluid.
  8. Next, wipe it clean.
  9. Next, insert it fully and then remove it again.
  10. Be careful! FLUID MAY BE HOT
  11. Take a look at the markings at the end of your dipstick.
  12. Two markings may be visible on your stick that indicates “full,” one warm and one cold.
  13. You will need to add transmission fluid if your automatic transmission fluid level is not at the “warm” level.
  14. Next, use a funnel to insert into the automatic transmission fluid dipstick hole.
  15. Make sure you add the automatic transmission fluid slowly.
  16. Take your time.
  17. Make sure you check your fluid level every time you add fluid.
  18. Please DO NOT OVERFILL or SPILL AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION FLUID ON HOT ENGINE PARTS
  19. Next, take your time to insert the dipstick for the automatic transmission fluid fully.
  20. You are now done!
  21. Fluid containers should be deposited in a trash can or a recycle bin. Fluids should not be thrown onto the streets or driveway.

How to Change Transmission Fluid

How to Change Transmission Fluid
Credits: Setta Sornnoi / Shutterstock

It’s possible to change many fluids yourself, so why not the transmission? You can change your transmission fluid yourself, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea. The same thing goes for any DIY project; You may not feel too confident in your abilities, and the job could be a disaster.

A Transmission Fluid Change is something you will need to do on your own. Although this is not as thorough as a complete flush, it will do more than top up the old fluid.

Here are the tools you will need for a transmission fluid change.

  • New Transmission fluid
  • Floor jack + jack stands + wheels chocks
  • Screwdriver
  • Ratchet
  • Socket Set
  • Drain pan
  • Long neck funnel

Follow these steps to know how to do a transmission fluid change.

  1. Allow your engine to warm up, then check the levels with your fluid dipstick. You should see a red handle on the dipstick. You may not need to make any changes if the fluid levels are normal. It can be topped up if the levels are too low. It should be replaced if it is sludgy or off-colored.
  2. After turning off the engine, place the wheel chocks between the rear wheels. To raise and secure your front end, use the jacks and jack stands.
  3. Under the engine, locate the transmission pan. The plug can be pulled out depending on the make and type of the fluid. Others will require removing the entire pan, which will involve removing 6-8 bolts.
  4. Drain the fluid by placing your drain pan underneath the plug. You will need a drain tray larger than the transmission pan if there is no drain plug. Otherwise, it will be messy. This will likely get only half the fluid out. To do a full and thoroughly clean, you MUST get a professional flush.
  5. Check the drain pan for any metal shavings or other contaminants. The pan should be fitted with a magnet to collect any metal shavings from your engine’s normal wear and tear. However, large, irregular pieces are rare.
  6. After the fluid has been drained, check the filter and gaskets. Replace any worn or cracked parts.
  7. Replace the pan or plug. Do not tighten the bolts too much.
  8. Place the car on jack stands, and then replace the fluid with a funnel. As detailed in the manual, you will need several quarts. You also need to be sure it is the right type for your vehicle.
  9. Let the car run for a while before you check your fluid levels. If it is low, add more.
  10. You must properly dispose of any old fluid. Transmission fluid should not be thrown in the garbage or flushed down the drain. Most shops will accept it for a drop-off.

Watch this video guide to help you during a transmission fluid change

How To extend Your Transmission Fluid Life

1. Check The Transmission Fluid Regularly

Your car’s transmission fluid is very important. Routine maintenance can help prolong the life of your transmission. You or a trusted professional should regularly check the transmission fluid.

This is particularly important if your vehicle is older. Remember that heat is the enemy of your transmission. You must protect your car from heat. Make sure you check your fluid at least once per month.

2. Use Synthetic Transmission Fluid, If Your Car Can Withstand It

Because they work better than other fluids, synthetic fluids are very popular. They also have a better performance, according to research. They are resistant to cold, heat, and shearing, as well as oxidation. Check with your mechanic to see if synthetic fluid is possible in your vehicle.

3. Have Your Transmission Serviced Every 30,000 Miles

You may need to service your transmission every 30,000 miles if you own an older car, or if you live in a big city and drive a lot. You are doing preventative maintenance and can avoid costly repairs later.

4. Check And Maintain Your Car’s Cooling System

Your car’s radiator is there to keep the heat in your vehicle in check because heat is not good for the transmission. You should take care to maintain your car’s cooling system.

You may need to check your coolant levels at least once every two years. You should inspect your vehicle for damage and leaks or have somebody inspect your vehicle’s coolant levels.

Also Read: 700R4 Transmission – Everything You Need To Know

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to get the transmission fluid changed?

Transmission fluid change costs range from $80 to $250 if your fluid is changed by a dealer, service center, or independent mechanic. The average cost is around $100 for both automatic and manual transmissions.

How often should you change transmission fluid?

Transmission fluid should be changed every 30,000-60,000 miles
Most manufacturers recommend that transmission fluid should be changed every 30,000-60,000 miles. It may be a good idea to change your transmission fluid more frequently if you tow or drive mainly in cities as there are many moving parts in an automatic transmission.

What happens if you don’t change transmission fluid?

A bad transmission fluid won’t be an effective lubricant if it isn’t changed regularly and doesn’t disperse heat. This can cause damage to the transmission’s clutches as well as other parts.

Can I change the transmission fluid myself?

Yes, you can change your transmission fluid yourself. Your manufacturer will recommend that you change your transmission fluid every 30,000 to 100,000 miles. A transmission flush-and-fill at a shop will run you $149-$199. You can save $100 by doing it yourself. However, It can be messy and difficult to drain the old fluid.

Can a Transmission Flush Hurt My Car?

While a transmission flush shouldn’t cause damage to your car, it doesn’t guarantee that it will. This job should be done by a trained technician using the proper tools. To flush the transmission properly, the car’s transmission pump should be used.

Is it bad to change transmission fluid on high mileage?

It is dangerous to change the transmission fluid in a car with high mileage. It is a risky job that you should not do unless your transmission is in good condition and the fluid is clean. This can lead to transmission failure.

Are transmission flushes really necessary?

Many manufacturers recommend that you flush your transmission every 30,000 miles, or every 2 years. Sometimes you will need to have your transmission serviced at the recommended intervals if your car has trouble. Transmission flushes can prolong the life of your transmission.

Should I change transmission fluid if it has never been changed?

If your transmission fluid is dark red or has red translucent color it is new and doesn’t need to be changed. It should be replaced if it is light brown with a hint of pink. It will become very dark brown if it hasn’t been replaced in a while.

Can I add a new transmission fluid to an old one?

Yes, you can add new transmission fluid to an old one to top it off.
Unless you are replacing fluid that has been contaminated, you can add fluid to the transmission without draining it. You won’t find an oil pan plug in the transmission. Instead, loosen all bolts around the pan to remove the gasket.

What happens if your transmission fluid is dirty?

Transmission fluid can become clogged with dirt and contaminants, preventing the transmission from moving in the right gear. Dirty transmission can quickly cause a disruption in transmission fluid flow. This will result in the transmission not being able to maintain its gear.

Is transmission fluid change important?

You are at risk for internal transmission damage and transmission failure if your fluid has become contaminated. This can lead to more than a simple fluid change. It could also result in a complete rebuild or replacement of the transmission. On most vehicles, it is recommended that your transmission fluid be changed at least once every 30,000 miles or 2 years.

Scott Greene is a seasoned automotive technician for over 5 years and has been deep into advanced automotive diagnostics for a couple of years. He Loves writing about Automotive Diagnostics and Repair, Trouble codes, Buyer guides for various car parts and accessories, and lots more. 

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