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Transmission Fluid Change Vs. Flush. Whats The Difference?

what is an automatic transmission flush

Your vehicle’s transmission plays a key role in the inner workings of your car. The transmission must deliver enough power to the wheels in order to ensure they drive at certain speeds. Transmission repairs are unfortunately expensive and time consuming for your vehicle. However, you can sometimes try to prevent paying for expensive repairs by performing simple maintenance. Similar to your engine needing oil for lubrication, your transmission is dependent on transmission fluid for cooling and lubricating the necessary parts. The necessary maintenance of the transmission includes both fluid changes and transmission flushes. 

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE


Why Do You Need To Maintain Your Transmission?


Maintaining and taking care of your transmission is beneficial for the longevity of the transmission itself, and the overall lifespan of the vehicle. We have broken down the three main reasons as to why it’s imperative to perform transmission maintenance.



  • Prevents Overheating



After a prolonged period of time, particles within the transmission and the metal shavings can gather and sit inside of the transmission fluid. As the fluid moves, the transmission and the fluid can heat up to an extraordinarily high amount. The heated fluid causes particles to burn and overheats internal components. 


The transmission contains chemical additives that lubricate and change gears – but most importantly, focus on heat removal. The friction within the transmission system produces a substantial amount of heat, which can cause stress and damage. Over time, the heat breaks down the compounds inside of the fluid, causing it to reduce the amount of heat that the fluid is able to carry away from the moving parts. 


The temperature of the fluid is ideally sitting at around 175 degrees. Overheating occurs after the temperature surpasses 200 degrees, and the problems severely increase for every 20-degree-increase after that. 



  • Improves Gear Operation



Transmission maintenance can improve the gear operation and the efficiency of your vehicle. When the transmission begins to overheat, the fluid can turn into a thick sludge, clogging the gears and making the shifting difficult. 



  • Improves Fuel Efficiency



When the transmission is functioning below the normal rate, a lower amount of strain and pressure is placed on other surrounding mechanical parts with the car. By lowering the amount of friction generated by the rotating parts, the amount of energy is increased and transferred to the wheels, thereby improving the fuel economy. 

Why Do I Need Transmission Fluid?


Your transmission system contains various moving parts that formulate heat and need to be constantly lubricated and cooled to prevent overheating. Transmission fluid is in charge of dissipating the heat, by circulating through a cooler. The fluid can also keep your transmission system operating smoothly by lubricating the necessary parts.


Within an automatic transmission, the fluid plays an additional important role, since it is pressurized to obtain certain gear ratios. Over time, your fluid can wear out and be contaminated with particles, causing it to lose lubricating qualities. 


The default transmission fluid service is generally called a transmission fluid change. However, a new way of servicing transmissions came into play during the 1990s, and was called a flush. Both of these methods can serve to replace your transmission fluid – but in very different ways. 


What Is A Transmission Fluid Change?


If you look at your vehicle’s manual, you’re almost certainly going to see this as the listed fix for any transmission service. A transmission change removes a large amount of the buildup within your system. Your mechanic is in charge of draining the transmission fluid from the transmission, replacing the filter, and refilling your transmission with new fluid. 


Replacing the filter is a key part of this step, since it removes dirt and contaminants in the fluid before the fluid travels to the transmission. It is important to have the filter serviced to prevent grinding noises from the transmission, problems shifting gears, gears slipping, and your vehicle surging. Your filter should be replaced at least every 20,000-40,000 miles to maintain optimal functionality. This will relieve any driving issues and reduce the change of driveability concerns. 


In a manual transmission, this fluid change procedure lets you completely drain and replace almost all of the oil. However, in an automatic transmission, this process only refuels about half of the fluid. The other half of the fluid stays in the torque converter and the passengers to the cooler. 


The torque converter is located between the engine and the transmission. It contains four parts, consisting of the impeller, turbine, stator, and converter clutch. The torque converter must be working in optimal condition to prevent your check engine light from coming on, your car from shuddering, your car leaking, your vehicle producing a strange noise, or your transmission slipping. 


Even though the manual transmission process only replaces half of the fluid, this is still a huge fix over not changing your fluid at all. Some repairmen even say that it could be better to change the fluid little-by-little, instead of doing a complete overhaul. 


Another benefit of a transmission fluid change is that your mechanic can look at the transmission pan and filter. The pan is the panel on the bottom of the transmission that is removed after the fluid is drained. Metal particles or debris in the pan can be a symptom of a problem that needs to be fixed. 


The process of undergoing a transmission fluid change is virtually quick and painless, with numerous opportunities for your personal mechanic to be able to see the overall condition of your transmission. This is a great choice for those who want a basic and preventive maintenance procedure. 


Benefits Of A Transmission Fluid Change


A common car issue is transmission problems within your car. Changing your transmission fluid is one of the best and most basic ways to extend the lifespan of your vehicle. We have listed some of the benefits you will undergo by changing your transmission fluid



  • Better Fuel Economy



Improving the fuel economy is a huge benefit of changing your fluid regularly. If your fluid has turned black, you need to change your fluid to ensure that your transmission runs smoother and engine functions better as well.



  • No Engine Lock-Up



If you don’t change your fluid, your engine can lock-up. This means that your transmission is working too hard that it just shuts down. By changing your fluid regularly, you can prevent this from happening.



  • Saves You Money



If you change your fluid regularly, you won’t have to pay an expensive repair or replacement price for fixing your damaged or faulty transmission. Replacing a transmission is one of the most expensive jobs that a mechanic performs. The average cost to fix a transmission ranges from $1,800-$3,400. Changing your fluid more regularly and according to the time frame set by your mechanic ensures that you will avoid the serious issues that come with car owners not maintaining their car.



  • Car Runs Smoother



If you constantly top up your transmission fluid, then you can prevent any damage, and ensure that your car is running in an optimal way. You can drive better, use less fuel, and be more oil-efficient. 


What Is A Transmission Flush?


The transmission flush originated over 20 years ago, with a machine that could replace all of the automatic transmission’s fluid without any worker necessary. At the time, this was a huge technological renovation, with the machine offering cost-saving due to no mechanics being needed. Since this was a cost and labor-saving endeavor to buy the machine, many auto repair shops bought these machines for their individual shops.


The transmission flushing process is pretty simple and by the book. You have to fill the right amount of transmission fluid and then hook up the transmission lines. After this, you just let it run. The old fluid and the smudge will be removed, while the new fluid replaces it. If the lines are very dirty, a solvent can be added through the transmission to clean out the parts. A transmission fluid flush costs about $75-$150.


What Are The Benefits of A Transmission Flush?


If your car has a significant amount of miles on it, then it is definitely time for a transmission flush. Being an important part of car maintenance, this is an imperative task that needs to be taken on your vehicle to ensure optimal performance. There are numerous benefits to performing a transmission flush.



  • Freshens Transmission Fluid



Since your transmission fluid can deteriorate over time and gather debris, it can affect how well it works and the efficiency of the fluid. Debris within the fluid can affect your transmission lubrication, causing costly damage to your vehicle. A complete flush has the ability to remove all corroded fluids and debris.



  • Cleans Transmission Components



Even though coolant is required to keep your transmission and engine from freezing due to cold temperatures, the coolant can also be corrosive to the transmission. Over time, it can rust the tubing and clog the tubes with debris. If you perform a transmission flush, the rust will be fully cleaned out to ensure optimal engine function.



  • Prevents Car Malfunctions



If you don’t change your transmission fluid or flush the system regularly, it can lead to a high amount of wear on your transmission. Over time, this can cause your engine to run at a reduced quality. Eventually, your engine will overheat, leaving you broken down and without a usable vehicle.



  • Improves Transmission Life Span



By performing regular transmission maintenance, you can extend the lifespan and quality of your vehicle. A regular transmission flush should occur every 40,000 miles to eliminate debris and rust, in addition, to prevent excessive wear. 


What Are The Downsides Of A Transmission Flush?


Even though this process is straightforward, flushing has downsides. Flushing costs more than a fluid change, since an expensive machine has to be used. Some shops will mark up the prices even more than usual, since they have already purchased an expensive machine for the process. Be wary when going to these mechanics, since they might automatically suggest a transmission flush for any solution.


Since the flushing process doesn’t need the pan to be removed or the filter to be changed, you and your mechanic won’t be able to see what is in the pan, or the damage and debris in the filter. Also, some mechanics believe that the high pressure caused by these machines damage the seals inside of your transmission.


Maintenance Vs. Repair


For the car owners out there, it is crucial to know that a transmission flush is not the same as a repair. Even though transmission flushes can really help in preventing transmission issues down the line, you have to know that this is not a guarantee of a fix or repair. After a transmission flush, many transmission can still fail. This isn’t due to the flush, but because the transmission was already at the brink of failing. 


Even though you can’t expect a transmission flush to fix a failing transmission, it can certainly help maintain the quality. Without a functioning transmission, you won’t be able to go far at all in your vehicle. You have to make sure that you keep the transmission operating at the highest level to prevent oil from getting debris and clogging the filter. 


What If I Don’t Want To Do Either Of These Options?


If you find that your car is in bad shape and you don’t want to do a fluid change or a flush, then you might choose a better option of selling your car for some money. If you have let your car go too long without any transmission maintenance or fluid changes, then the transmission will be severely compromised. A lack of maintenance in your transmission system can cause a transmission failure, which is a costly and expensive repair that nobody wants. 


If you don’t want to deal with a faulty or failing transmission, then you might find your best option to be selling your car to a reputable location that can give you a fair quote. Bring your car to CashCarsBuyer to obtain a quote, and receive a fair price for your junk car. 


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