Just like getting tires rotated or oil changed, it’s important to stay up to date of transmission fluid maintenance schedules. There are two main methods for swapping out transmission fluid: changing it or flushing it. So, what’s the difference between transmission fluid flush and changes?

What is the transmission?

In simplest terms, the transmission is the part of your car that translates all the power created in the engine to the wheels below. Using gears, it translates the speed and power from the engine to make the vehicle actually move. Think of it like the gears on a bike. If the person pumping the pedals is the engine, the gears are the transmission, shifting to distribute power and get you moving.

What is Transmission Fluid?

Transmission fluid is important for keeping your car in good operating condition. Without it, you can rack up hundreds of dollars in repair or replacement costs for the damage caused to your transmission. 

Transmission fluid is a type of lubricant meant to ease wear on parts while also cooling the transmission of both automatic and manual cars. Keeping with the analogy of the bike, transmission fluid is like the oil that keeps things moving. Fresh transmission fluid is a bright red. However, as it gets muddied up by impurities and debris it turns a brown color. 

The main factor that breaks down transmission fluid is heat. Heat generated by the engine, friction, and towing can wear transmission fluid down. 

Signs it’s time to Change your Transmission Fluid 

There’s a lot of discourse on how often you should get your transmission fluid changed or flushed. Most manufacturers suggest getting your transmission fluid changed once every two to three years, or every 30,000 miles. 

Slipping gears, rough shifting, or the smell of burnt toast are all signs that it may be time to change your transmission fluid. 

There are two methods for switching out old fluid for new transmission fluid. 

Transmission Fluid Flush

Transmission fluid flushes are performed using a machine that is able to suck all of the fluid out and replace it with brand new fluid. They’re the preferred method for many mechanics and technicians. Not only are they efficient at getting all of the fluid out, the machine that performs a flush is able to complete the process without supervision. This allows mechanics and technicians to utilize their time well and perform other checks while the machine is running. 

A notable difference between transmission fluid flush and changes is the cost. Because of the cost of running the machine, transmission fluid flushes average between $150 and $300.

Transmission Fluid Change

Transmission fluid changes are cheaper than flushes, but come with a trade off. Typically, a fluid change isn’t able to get all of the fluid out of the transmission. This is because of how the fluid comes to rest within the transmission itself. During a transmission fluid change the transmission is drained as much as it can be, then refilled. Typically, this only replaces half of the fluid, another difference between transmission fluid flush and changes. Still, half new fluid is still better than a transmission full of old fluid. 

It is up to you which method you decide to use. Either way, both methods accomplish the same thing: removing old fluid from the transmission and replacing it with new fluid.

If your vehicle is due for a transmission fluid flush or change, request an appointment with our team at Beetlesmith’s Valley Auto Service in Renton today.

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