How often should my automatic transmission fluid be flushed & changed?

Your vehicle manufacturer has specific guidelines for your car.  It is best to refer to Russ’ Transmissions for maintenance and service of your automatic transmission.  Additionally, there are other factors that may suggest a shorter interval between fluid flushes.  Your driving habits are a significant reason to increase the frequency of a fluid change for your automatic transmission.

Most manufacturers’ suggested service intervals are based on mild driving habits.  Virtually all people in Southern California, especially in the San Fernando Valley, drive more rigorously than the suggestion.  We have a lot of start and stop, and that makes the vehicle shift up and down more frequently.  This causes the fluid to deteriorate more quickly.

Could minor problems be causing my automatic transmission problems?

Fortunately, Yes!

There are many other problems that could cause symptoms related to your transmission.  Often times, these other problems are low cost, quick and easy to fix.  Here are a few problems that may be causing your automatic transmission to act up.

  • Fluid levels are low.
  • Fluid Leaks.
  • Bad, ineffective fluids.
  • A bad solenoid.
  • Car computer problem.
  • Loose vacuum lines.
  • Cables or linkages have come loose or out of adjustment.
  • Sensor defects.

Many of the problems above could give you an automatic transmission problem.  however, each of these are far more affordable than a new or rebuilt automatic transmission.

It is also important to point out that these problems, if left un-repaired could cause significant and expensive damage.  So, don’t delay if you are experiencing any symptoms that sound like your automatic transmission.

How long does an automatic transmission last?

Well, it depends.  Automatic transmissions can last as long as your car does when it is serviced periodically and properly.  Although this doesn’t guarantee you will never need to replace your automatic transmission, it certainly increases the odds — GREATLY.

It is also important to note that some particular vehicles have a more problematic automatic transmission than others.  Some brands seem more prone to breakdown than others too.

Also the older the car, the more potential you can have automatic transmission problems.

The automatic transmission relies on proper lubrication and consists of many moving mechanical parts.  As you can imagine, the constant grinding of metal to metal WITHOUT proper lubrication will create two problems.  One, it wears down the internal parts.  And, two, those flecks of ground parts float around and exacerbate the problem further.

We recommend that you follow your car’s manufacturer recommended automatic transmission service intervals.  These services drain the old fluid that gradually becomes ineffective at protecting the internal mechanical parts.  If you are not sure, and you want to err on the side of safety (and a long-lasting automatic transmission), we recommend a service every 24,000 miles or two years whichever comes first — unless your manufacture recommends a shorter interval.

Automatic transmission services include draining the old ineffective fluids, cleaning the transmission system out, and replacing the fluid with fresh, protective fluid.  It’s similar to what you do with your engine’s oil and filter replacement.  And, with the cost of a new or rebuilt transmission rivaling the price of a new engine, it is just as important.

Should I drive with an automatic transmission leak?

You may be able to drive with a leak coming from your automatic transmission.  HOWEVER, it is certainly risky and may cause a significant expense and downtime.

Here’s why.  Your automatic transmission is a hydraulic actuated component and is the lifeblood to longevity for all moving parts and pressure related clutch components.

Your automatic transmission absolutely depends on lubrication.  It is made up of many mechanical parts that mesh together constantly.  As you can imagine, without lubrication, friction will cause damage.  The parts will begin to wear down and stop working correctly.  Additionally, the process of wearing down adds particles that float around in the system, causing more friction and thus more breakdown.

If you are experiencing a leak, bring it in as soon as you can.  If you need to, add some fresh fluid from the auto parts store.  But don’t depend on this and don’t think it will buy you much time.

A rebuilt or new automatic transmission can cost several $1,000’s today in some vehicles.  Preventing it can be very insignificant in comparison.

There can be many causes of an automatic transmission leak.  It is does not automatically mean a major expense either.  Please feel welcome to call us to ask questions.  We are glad to help.

Remember, when it comes to automatic transmissions, it is best to trust an automatic transmission specialist.  It is better to trust an automatic transmission specialist that has been in business over 40 years.  Still better to trust one that is friendly, helpful, honest and truly qualified.