National average cost of a Transmission Fluid & Filter Replacement for popular vehicles:
Avg. cost $99
Avg. cost $91
Avg. cost $126
What is a transmission fluid and filter replacement?
Your vehicle’s automatic transmission transmits power from the engine, through the drivetrain, and to the wheels. Inside the transmission is a system of gears and other moving components that are lubricated and cooled by hydraulic oil called ATF (Automatic Transmission Fluid). The ATF is also used to control some of the functions of the transmission through hydraulic pressure. So, the ATF serves several important roles in your transmission. While it is doing its job, the transmission oil filter keeps the ATF free from damaging debris. Therefore, it is important to replace the fluid and filter regularly.
How do I know if a vehicle needs a transmission fluid and filter replacement?
The transmission fluid and filter in an automatic transmission should be changed at regular intervals according to the recommendation of the vehicle manufacturer. But there are certain conditions that might suggest a fluid and filter change are needed, such as
Abnormal shifting (too abrupt or excessively soft and "mushy" shifts)
Shifting into the next gear at the wrong time (too early or too late)
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How is a Transmission Fluid & Filter Replacement done?
Transmission fluid is changed in a similar fashion to engine oil, with a couple of important exceptions. For instance, fluid and filter replacement on a transmission filter often requires removal of the entire transmission pan. Once your vehicle is safely lifted and supported off of the ground for access, a mechanic will remove a drain plug to perform the initial drain procedure. For most transmissions, the mechanic will remove the bolts holding the pan to the transmission, then remove the pan to finish draining the fluid. There is a magnet inside the pan that captures metal debris from the fluid. So, with the pan removed and the fluid drained, the mechanic will manually clean off the magnet. Next, the filter - typically wide and thin, as opposed to can-shaped like an oil filter - is removed and replaced. The pan is reinstalled with a fresh gasket, and the transmission is refilled with fluid from either the dipstick tube or an access hole on top of the transmission, requiring a special pressure pump and adapter (an increasing element of late-model vehicles).
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