A Guide to Transmission Fluid: Its Job and When It Needs Replaced

Changing your car’s transmission fluid isn’t like changing the oil, so it’s best you leave the job to your nearby Forest Lake auto service center. It’s a smart decision because it can save the expense of transmission repair, but what happens if you don’t take care of it? How often should you replace the transmission fluid? We’ve put together this handy guide to answer those questions and help you understand transmission problems before they run you off the road.

Engine Performance Depends on It 

Whether your car shifts gears automatically or depends on you for manual shifting, changing gears produces friction and heat. Transmission fluid keeps the process efficient with minimal wear on engine parts. In an automatic transmission, it’s a lubricant, hydraulic fluid, and coolant. Fluid for manual transmissions doesn’t act as a coolant, but it still lubricates and provides critical hydraulic pressure that ensures solid engine performance.

Transmission Fluid Eventually Goes Bad 

Constant circulation through the transmission takes a toll on the fluid. Automatic transmissions generate high temperatures that eventually break down the fluid. Wear on bearings, gears, and synchronizers in both automatic and manual transmissions contaminates the fluid with tiny shavings. As the debris accumulates and circulates, it shortens the life of your transmission.

When transmission fluid begins to fail, the problem isn’t always obvious at first. It happens gradually, but it can suddenly result in serious transmission damage. Never ignore these signs of transmission fluid breakdown.

  • Unexpected or repeated gear slippage
  • Sudden power surges
  • Delayed response to shifting gears
  • Squealing noise while shifting
  • Stiff manual gear shifting
  • Overheating with no obvious cause
  • Fluid color change from red to brown
  • Puddles of brown fluid under parked car

Know When You Need a Change 

Depending on your driving lifestyle, you should have the car’s transmission fluid changed out every 30,000 to 60,000 miles – or every two to four years. We recommend tightening up the schedule for manual transmissions. Vehicles that routinely handle heavy loads like towing or hauling need a transmission fluid change every 15,000 miles.

If you haven’t had your car’s transmission fluid checked lately, stop by our Forest Lake service center. Transmission repair is just one of our specialties, and we offer our auto expertise at seven locations across the state. You can always trust Kennedy Transmission for total car care that keeps you on the road.

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