How often should you change the automatic transmission fluid?

The car you drive will most often transmit sound or physical signals when something is wrong in its operation. Most of the car parts, especially those related to the engine and transmission, are lubricated with special oils, therefore, they become vital for proper functioning and extending the life of the car by avoiding premature wear.

The transmission fluid should be changed without hesitation when the signs that the car gives are obvious, even though most of the time it should not be replaced sooner than 25.000 miles or annually as a strict prevention measure.

What is the automatic transmission oil?

Automatic transmission oil is the fluid used for cars with automatic transmission. It is usually colored red or green to differentiate it from the other types of oil.

Why do you need to change the transmission oil?

Contamination with iron pellets, sprinklers on sprockets or other mechanisms is inevitable for any transmission oil and is then recommended to be changed to retain its original properties.

When should you change the transmission fluid?

Even if it changes less often than the engine oil, the operation is recommended depending on the type of use of the car: intense use (specific to distribution cars, passenger transport, etc.) and normal (specific to personal cars). Another criterion, according to which the transmission oil exchange interval is decided, is the type of transmission: automatic or manual. In the case of automatic gearboxes, the oil should be changed more often than in the case of manual ones.

To make sure you change the automatic gearbox oil at the right interval, go check the car manual. There you will find all the indications and recommendations for the proper maintenance of all the components of the car. For example, the manufacturer of Volkswagen recommends changing the transmission oil every 2 years.

The best time to change the fluid is when you hear or feel one of the following symptoms presented below, my piece of advice to you is to request a check-in to an authorized service because there are very high chances that you will need to replace the transmission fluid:

1. Physical difficulty when changing gears

The gearshift must be smooth and noise-free. You will find that gears change with delay and with difficulty, or in moments that seem to be sooner or later depending on the actual running of the car. When the car is equipped with a manual transmission, you can even face the actual impossibility of changing gears.

2. Scratching noise or squeaking noise when changing gears.

Besides the fact that these noises are disturbing, they are a clear indication that something is wrong with the transmission. The metal-to-metal rubbing and the loud noises you hear should make you stop and check the level of the transmission fluid when the engine is running.
The check should also include the color perception of this liquid. If you notice a color other than a bright red, or bright green then it is sufficiently clear that it is necessary to replace the transmission fluid.

3. Shocks that do not seem to have an explanation.

Transmission oil contamination is the main cause for the car to make a sudden or forward movement, without any specific acceleration or braking control.
A dirty oil must be replaced as soon as possible because, otherwise, the normal lubrication flow in the transmission will not be at the proper level.

4. The delayed reaction of the car when moving, after changing gears.

Sometimes, when the transmission fluid is contaminated with dirt, this phenomenon can occur when you change gears, which is due to the disruption of the normal lubrication flow that the fluid must provide.
This delayed reaction could last from a few seconds to longer times, indicating serious contamination of the transmission fluid.

Decoupling from the selected gear.

The optimum oil flow in the transmission may be defective when the transmission fluid is contaminated with dirt, or in the system, some deposits affect the pressure gauges that play a role in maintaining the gears that are chosen. For these reasons, at random, it can produce the decoupling from the gear selected, without any previous sign.

If you have encountered any of these situations while driving, it is sufficiently clear that a transmission and transmission fluid check is required as soon as possible. Chances are that the simple replacement of the transmission fluid, when its color is other than intense red (or green) or has a burning odor, will solve the problems. In case they persist, then it is more than that and it means that a thorough check of the transmission mechanisms is mandatory.

Just like the engine of your car needs a car lubricant to protect its components from degradation or corrosion, so the transmission needs a special oil. Maintaining the optimum transmission oil level is important for the proper functioning of the brakes and your car.

How do I check the transmission oil level?

Step 1: Check the user manual. Do you have a manual or automatic transmission? The manual gearbox usually does not have an oil measuring rod. These are factory filled and do not need refilling. The fluid should only be changed in case of repairs.

Step 2: Locate the oil measuring rod. The transmission oil measuring rod is usually shorter and red. If you are lucky, it can even be marked.

– In the case of vehicles with rear-wheel drive, the rod is usually in the compartment on the side closest to the passenger seat.
– In the case of vehicles with propulsion on the front wheels, the rod is on the driver’s side, on both sides of the transmission.

If you do not find it, your car user manual should help you. Many cars no longer have the oil measuring rod, which is replaced by an encapsulated unit, which requires a much larger process to check the oil level.

This process involves electronic testing devices, such as computer scanning. This makes the drivers of these cars no longer competent enough to check the level of car oil alone. If you are among them and your car does not have a transmission oil measuring rod, have it checked at a service several times a year.

If your car still has a transmission oil measuring rod, we advise you to do a periodic check.

Step 3: How to check the transmission oil? Take the rod out and wipe it with a clean cloth. Then insert it again and leave it in the tank for 5 seconds, remove it and check the oil level. Also, add the oil if necessary and always use the recommended one according to the factory instructions.

Add the progressive oil and check the level every time. It is quite easy to add oil, but much more difficult to remove, If you need to put more than a liter of oil in your transmission , check for leaks.

How to check the transmission oil properly?

Look at its color and smell.

Color is very important because it can indicate quickly when the oil needs to be changed. Good oil should always keep the same color: usually yellowish-brown, semi-transparent. For the automatic transmission, the liquid is lit red. If it turns dark red or brown, the liquid should be changed.
Also, if the odor has burned or has various particles in it, you must necessarily do a service check. What is a transmission service? This consists of changing the oil filter before adding the transmission oil. Now that you have learned all these things, you can check the transmission fluid by yourself?

Why should the oil level be checked for an automatic transmission?

The transmission oil is the vital fluid of the transmission. The fluid produces the hydraulic pressure required for the transmission to function. It also cools and lubricates the transmission. When the level is low, the pump can draw air into the system. Air coming into the hydraulic system interrupts the oil flow in the gearbox. Damage can occur very easily when the fluid level drops.

How to check the oil level for the automatic transmission?

For rod transmissions, the procedure is the same as above.
Many Ford, Toyota, GM, and European or Asian vehicles no longer have oil level gauges. The pattern for manufacturers is to remove the rods from the automatic boxes. Newer transmissions are much more complex than older models, and the fluid level is much more important. Checking the oil level requires very precise procedures.
If you want to go further, here’s how you can change the transmission oil:

  • Drain the fluid from the transmission: first, disconnect the cooling line that connects the transmission with the radiator. Connect a piece of rubber tube to the pipe and place the free end of the rubber tube over an empty container. Start the engine and let it run. The oil will flow from the cooling pipe into the container. When the leakage stops, stop the engine. Then you can reconnect the cooling pipe to the radiator.
  • Remove the screws that secure the drain tray to the bottom of the transmission.
  • Clean oil pan for the transmission.
  • Replace the filter.
  • Replace the gasket.
  • Install the tray. Once the filter and gasket are in place, place the tray back on the transmission. Screw the bolts by hand, then with a wrench to tighten them. We recommend not to tighten them too much, in order not to damage the wires in the transmission and not to twist the tray.
    Pour Transmission Oil: Dexron III ATF oils are the most common, but check also in the car manual to choose the fluid recommended by the manufacturer (also check the quantity).

How much oil do I need for a complete change?

In the transmission fits about 2 – 2.5 liters of oil. If you have used this quantity and you notice that the oil level has not reached the top of the gearbox, there may be some oil leaks. In this case, an emergency visit to a car service is recommended. Also, do not forget to empty the used oil before putting the new one and recycle it properly.

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