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How Much Does a Transmission Fluid Change Cost? Your Ultimate Guide!

How Much Does a Transmission Fluid Change Cost? Your Ultimate Guide!

Your car has many different fluids and each of them has a specific purpose. One of the most important fluids is the transmission fluid and it is often overlooked or neglected. Many people know when to change their car’s engine oil and how much it costs, but do they know how much does a transmission fluid change cost? Not likely. Transmission fluids need to be changed too since they also deteriorate as it ages. It gets old, worn, contaminated, or burned. When this happens, it can cause excessive wear and tear that can result in many transmission problems. So how much does a transmission fluid change cost? It can cost around $80 to $250 and the average fluid change cost for both automatic and manual transmissions is around $100.

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How Much Does a Transmission Fluid Change Cost? – What Happens If You Don't Change Your Transmission Fluid?



The transmission of a car is responsible for making sure that the correct amount of power will be sent to your wheels in order to drive your car at a given speed. It allows the gear ratio between the engine and the drive wheels to adjust when the car speeds up or slows down. Without a working transmission, the car won’t be able to move.


For many years, there have been two types of transmissions used in cars, the manual transmission and the automatic transmission. But, in some modern vehicles, two other transmissions are also being used, which are the DCT or dual-clutch transmission and CVT or continuously variable transmission.  Regardless of the type of transmission your car has, maintaining it is important and this includes transmission fluid changes.


Before we answer the question, “how much does a transmission fluid change cost?”, we need to understand why transmission fluid is important and what will happen if you don’t change your transmission fluid.


The transmission fluid is responsible for keeping the transmission cool and lubricated. It ensures that the transmission can function properly and efficiently. The transmission fluid is also considered as a major component of the overall operation and performance of the transmission system. It not only lubricates and cools the system and its mechanical parts, it also helps maintain the fluid pressure, prevents oxidation, conditions the gasket, and prevents rust. In vehicles that are equipped with automatic transmission, the transmission fluid also aids in transmitting power from the engine to the transmission.


Like any other fluids in your car, the transmission fluid deteriorates as it ages. It can become dirty, worn, or contaminated. Although the transmission fluid does not have contaminants similar to what the engine oil has such as condensation, carbon, or fuel, it can still get contaminated with metal shavings due to the wearing off of the friction plates, bearings, and gear inside the transmission which can happen when the fluid has lost its protective properties. While many of the metal particles are filtered or caught by the internal transmission filter, some of it can still sneak through the system and be circulated throughout the transmission. When this happens, it can cause rapid wearing of the transmission fluid.


The transmission fluid can deteriorate over time due to some factors such as heat, hard use, towing heavy loads, and other driving conditions. Frequent stop and go driving, towing heavy loads, or hauling heavy cargos can cause it to deteriorate faster. Heat is also one of the leading causes of a deteriorated transmission fluid. This is because the transmission produces a lot of friction when it operates and this can create heat. The transmission fluid is always circulating and being pumped through the hot transmission and this is the only way to get rid of the heat.


Keep in mind that the greater the load the transmission has, the more heat it will create and the higher the temperature of the transmission fluid will get. The constant heat will eventually result in the breaking down of the transmission fluid, causing it to burn or turn into a darker color. When the fluid is burned and worn, your transmission will most likely experience some problems. When this happens and you ignore it, you will not only ask, how much does a transmission fluid change cost? But, you will also have to ask, how much does it cost to repair a transmission?


So what happens when you don’t change your transmission fluid? If you don’t follow the recommended fluid change intervals set by your car’s manufacturer, you will most likely experience these problems.


  • Slipping gears.


Slipping gears can happen when the friction material on the clutches and transmission bands are no longer capable of holding the gear in place securely, causing it to fall back out of the chosen gear.


  • Delayed shifting.


When you experience a delay when you shift gears, it is an indication that your transmission fluid has lost its pressure. You might want to check your transmission fluid level.


  • Hard to shift.


You may experience difficulty in shifting if there is a residue build up in your transmission fluid. You may notice that whenever you change gears, it will change too slow, too fast, or too erratically. You may even notice grinding sounds or unusually high RPMs prior to changing gears.


  • Overheating transmission.


A worn, old, or contaminated transmission fluid no longer has its protective abilities. When this happens, it will no longer be effective in lubricating and cooling down the transmission’s moving parts. Without the fluid’s lubricating capabilities, your transmission can overheat because of friction. When this happens, do not continue driving. You need to pull over and stop your car immediately. You may also notice a burning smell, smoke, or a significant power loss.


It is important to maintain the right amount of transmission fluid in your car. You also need to make sure that you follow the recommended fluid change intervals. Although the transmission fluid does not really need a monthly service, it is recommended that you regularly check your transmission fluid. You need to check its level and its color. This way, you won’t have to deal with premature transmission problems.


How Much Does a Transmission Fluid Change Cost? – How Much Should a Transmission Fluid Change Cost?



You now know how important a transmission fluid is and why you should always maintain the required fluid level. So how much does a transmission fluid change cost? The cost can vary depending on the car you own but in general, it can cost around $80 to $250. If what you need is a transmission flush, it can cost around $200 to $250.


However, this is just the estimated cost. If the mechanic finds out that your transmission fluid is in poor condition, the total cost will be much higher. The mechanic may also recommend having your filter replaced and having your pan cleaned whenever you have your fluid changed. This needs to be done since the filter and the pan collect contaminants over time and this can decrease the effectiveness of the newly changed fluid. Although it is not really required to do this every time you change your fluid, it can help prolong the life of your transmission.


We already gave an answer to the question, how much does a transmission fluid change cost? You might want to know why it costs that much. Here’s why.


Newer vehicles often need a specific type of transmission fluid such as +3 or +4 fluids. These types of fluid can cost around $8 to $20 per quart and a regular transmission fluid change will need about 5 to 15 quarts of fluid which makes the total cost of about $50 to $120. When you have your transmission fluid changed, you will need a new filter which can be bought for around $15 to $30. If you opt to replace your pan gasket too, you will also have to buy it which can make the total cost of about $75 to $150 and this is only for the parts.


There are also some factors that can have an affect on the total service cost. When you ask, how much does a transmission fluid change cost?, there is no specific answer. You will have to visit an auto service shop and ask for a quote. The prices can vary depending on some factors that affect the cost such as the make and model of your car, how much transmission fluid is needed to fill your car, whether the fluid change is done by a mechanic, a dealership, or yourself, the type of transmission fluid you use, and the cost of labor in your area.


If you are not sure what type of transmission fluid you should use for your car, you will have to check your owner’s manual so you will get the accurate or specific details about the type of fluid your car needs. You need to be sure since the transmission fluid comes in both regular and synthetic blends. To make sure that your transmission gets exactly what it needs, you need to purchase and use the fluid recommended by your car manufacturer.


Basically, the transmission fluid change service usually involves:


  • Inspecting components, cleaning, and removing the grime. The mechanic will inspect and clean the gasket, transmission pan, sealing surface, and the transmission case.


  • Replacing the transmission filter. The transmission filter will have to be replaced too since dirty and clogged filters can cause unnecessary stress on your transmission.


  • Replacing the pan gasket. If the mechanics find out that the pan gasket is cracked, worn, or damaged, they will recommend replacing it with a new one. This is because a damaged pan gasket may cause a transmission fluid leak. If you don't replace it, it may cause some problems later on.


  • Performing transmission flush. If needed, the mechanic may recommend having your transmission fluid flushed. A transmission flush will be needed if there is a significant sludge build up or grime in the fluid. A flush will also be needed if the fluid’s color has turned too dark or is emitting a burnt smell.


How Much Does a Transmission Fluid Change Cost? – When Should I Change My Transmission Fluid?



You may now know the answer to the question, how much does a transmission fluid change cost?, but when should you change your transmission fluid? Know that the transmission fluid change interval can vary since every car is different and each one has different requirements for how frequent its transmission fluid should be changed.


To determine the answer, you need to check your owner’s manual. You can also determine if your car is due for a fluid change by checking the condition of your transmission fluid. You can do this by finding your transmission dipstick. You can usually find it under your car’s hood, behind the oil dipstick. If you notice that your fluid level is low, you can add more. Many auto manufacturers usually recommend having your transmission fluid changed every 30,000 to 60,000 miles.


To know if you need a fluid change, you can wipe the dipstick with a soft cloth and observe the transmission fluid’s color. If the color of the fluid is bright pink or reddish, it means that it is still new. But if the fluid has a light brown or dark color with a hint of pink, then it is time for a fluid change. However, if you have been neglecting your transmission fluid for a long time and you see your fluid has turned dark brown with metal shavings floating in it, it can be an indication that your transmission has severe problems or is damaged.


If the car you own has a lifetime transmission fluid, it is best that you still check its condition regularly, especially if your car has around 100,000 miles on it. This is because the vent tubes that let the pressure in the transmission to equalize can have problems since it may also allow moisture and dust to enter into the system.


How much does a transmission fluid change cost? It can cost you around $80 to $250. Do not try to save some bucks and delay fluid changes. If you delay it and your car is running with a dirty, worn out, or contaminated transmission fluid, you will end up paying more since it can cause severe problems on your transmission and a transmission is one of the most expensive car parts to repair. You might end up spending more than $3,000 to fix your transmission problems.