Are you fed up with giving your mechanic your hard-earned cash for jobs you could do yourself? We were too! It can seem tedious, but taking the time to get to know your car and care for it goes a long way in its lifespan and saving your coins.
We have successfully mastered spark plug replacements, screen wash, and oil; now it’s time for the big task: transmission fluid. Sounds daunting? We get it, it was a stressful thought for us, but honestly, it’s not as scary as it sounds.
While it can cost up to $250 to have a mechanic change your transmission fluid, doing it yourself can slash the cost to $50-$100. Sounds too good to be true? Well, we are here to make your money-saving dreams a reality.
Keep reading to find out all you need to know about transmission fluid and how you can change it yourself!
What is transmission fluid?
Transmission fluid is very similar to engine oil. It provides lubrication for the transmission but also acts as a hydraulic fluid.
What this does is keeps the transmission at a suitable operating temperature, helps gear changes, and keeps the moving parts of your engine lubricated for smooth and easy movements.
There’s a range of additives and compounds used in transmission fluids that can help your vehicle move smoothly. Some of these are:
- Corrosion inhibitors
- Anti-wear additives
- Anti-foam additives
- Cold flow improvers
- High-temperature thickeners
- Petroleum dye
- Gasket conditioners
- Seal swell additives
- Anti-oxidation compounds
There are other additives found, but these are some of the most commonly used. Be sure to read the label of your fluid to understand what is included and how it will help your engine.
How often should transmission fluid be changed?
When you consider the cost of your engine, not changing your transmission fluid, the thing that keeps it moving seems silly, doesn’t it? But how often should it be changed?
Generally speaking, transmission fluid will last between 30,000 to 60,000 miles. Some drivers have seen up to 150,000 miles of use, but it can vary from car to car.
Don’t let that vagueness put you off; there are some key signs you can look out for that will tell you it’s time for some new transmission fluid! If you notice any of the following, then it’s time to change your fluid:
- Gear slipping
- Delayed gear shifts
- Irregular shifts
- Inability to shift
- Overheated transmission
Now that we have covered what transmission fluid is and when you should change it, let’s cover what brought you here: the cost.
How much does changing transmission fluid cost?
We touched on the cost briefly earlier, explaining how it’s much cheaper to make the transmission fluid change yourself. There are still some price differences to cover, though.
While the fluid itself is affordable, the amount needed can drive up the cost. Your car will need anywhere from 5-15 quarts of transmission fluid, so be sure to work out the cost per quart for an accurate price. You will still find it much cheaper than using a mechanic, though!
When changing the fluid, it is worth changing the filter, and sometimes, the pan gasket too. These are all added costs that you need to consider. On average, you can expect to spend between $80 – $250 if you go to a mechanic or dealer.
However, as we said earlier, doing it yourself can see you spending no more than $100for your time and dirty hands. Not sure how? We have got you covered; let’s look at that now!
How to Change Your Transmission Fluid Yourself
Changing your transmission fluid can be done in four easy steps; let’s look at them now!
Step 1: Jack the Car Up
To begin, slide a jack under the front of your car. Position it so that it sits under the frame and jack the front up. Be sure to position a jack stand in place to ensure your vehicle is secure before beginning your work!
Step 2: Drain the Fluid
Once the front of your vehicle is jacked up, locate the bottom of the transmission. You should find it next to the drain bolt, which you can loosen with a hex head. It’s a good idea to wear some gloves here as it can get messy.
Collect the transmission fluid into a drain pan, removing the bolt by hand.
Step 3: Remove the Pan and Change the Filter
If there is a filter in your car, you will need to replace it. To do this, remove the bolts surrounding the pan, releasing the pan and filter.
Once released, you can swap the filter and place the pan back into place.
Step 4: Tighten the Bolt and Refill
To complete the process, grab your hex head and tighten the drain bolt back into place. Once securely in place, you will need to determine how much fluid needs to be added.
You can do this by taking the drain pan full of the old, dirty transmission fluid and measure it into empty quart bottles. It will tell you the amount of fluid needed. Alternatively, you can find the required amount in your car’s handbook, or you can check the figure online. Be sure your hands are clean before doing this!
Once you have the amount, locate the transmission fluid cap and pour in your new fluid. Be sure to take care when doing this and ensure every bolt and cap used is firmly in place before removing the jack and lowering your car.
And just like that, your fluid is changed and ready to go!
As you can see, changing your transmission fluid is not as difficult as you first thought! Changing the fluid yourself can save you money and ensure the smooth running of your car and engine.
Why not give it a go today?