The national cost for a transmission fluid & filter replacement with CarAdvise in 2024 is between $48 and $240 with an average of $125.

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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 is a 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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National average cost of a a Transmission Fluid & Filter Replacement
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Car Model

Avg. cost


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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)

Transmission overheating

Transmission slippage

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Other questions customers ask

Is changing the transmission fluid filter necessary?
Changing the filter is not always necessary. Some filters are simple metal mesh screens that can be inspected for debris, cleaned, and reused if they are not too contaminated. But because a transmission filter is made accessible when the transmission pan is removed - and because the filter cost is often minimal - most technicians recommend replacing the filter whenever the pan is removed for a fluid change.
How do I know if my transmission fluid is bad?
There are a few indicators that transmission fluid has gone bad. Unfortunately, many late-model vehicles no longer feature user-accessible dipsticks to check the fluid. Instead, many transmissions are considered to be unserviceable by the vehicle owner. If your transmission does have a fluid dipstick, you can check for the following signs of deteriorating fluid. For instance, clean transmission fluid appears red or pink. If it looks dark brown or black, it might be bad. Also, if the fluid has overheated, it might have a “burnt” smell. In either case, it is likely that the fluid needs to be changed.
What happens if you don’t change your transmission fluid?
The fluid inside a transmission works to lubricate and cool the moving parts inside. It also transfers hydraulic energy to make your transmission function properly. If you don't change the fluid regularly, the fluid will eventually become contaminated and break down chemically. Once this happens, it won't protect the moving parts from wear the way it should. It may also cause malfunctions inside the transmission, and it can cause the transmission seals to degrade and leak. Ultimately, this will lead to reduced fuel efficiency and horsepower at best, and a transmission that fails prematurely at worst.

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