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How to Know When Your Transmission Oil Needs Changed
Express Lube Service | Splash Car Wash

Transmission fluid is important for the overall performance of your vehicle. It prevents wear and tear by cooling and lubricating components in your transmission system. Here are some critical signs that it’s time to have your transmission fluid replaced.

Hard Use of Vehicle

Like other automotive fluids, your transmission oil deteriorates over time. Hard use, such as city stop-and-go driving, towing a trailer or hauling heavy loads accelerates the deterioration of the oil. Transmission fluid serves as both a lubricant, as well as a hydraulic fluid. It helps facilitate gear shifts, cool your transmission system and lubricate its components when driving. When you drive under stressful conditions, your transmission’s operating temperature rises and places excessive strain on both the transmission system and the fluid.

Dark Color

After driving under stressful circumstances, you should always check the level of your transmission fluid and have a professional inspect its condition. Most transmission fluids are red, but they do also come in other colors. As the fluid deteriorates, it often turns darker.  It might also produce a burned odor, indicating that you are about to experience mechanical problems in your transmission system.

Inexplicable Surging

An accumulation of contaminants in your transmission system can create inexplicable surging. When dirt accumulates inside your transmission system, it limits the flow of the transmission oil. This adversely affects the smooth operation of the moving components in the bell housing and the gears. This problem can make your car jump or surge backward and forward. You can correct this problem by having your transmission fluid changed.

Slipping Gears  

To keep your car in the right gear, its transmission system must generate sufficient pressure. Your transmission system depends on the smooth flow of the transmission oil. If the fluid is compromised by excessive dirt and grime, your gears will lose their ability to stay in position. Driving with slipping gears poses a serious safety risk; especially when driving uphill with a manual transmission. This issue can be solved by changing the transmission fluid and filters.

Delayed Movement after Shifting

Delayed movement of your vehicle after shifting gears is caused by an interruption of the flow of your transmission oil. A normal delay only lasts a few seconds. Longer delays can indicate excessive dirt and grime accumulation or faulty components in your transmission system. If this is the case, it’s a good idea to have your transmission system inspected and repaired.

Funny Noises

If your transmission fluid is contaminated by dirt or other contaminants, you might notice symptoms that are like those caused by having a low fluid level. These include grinding or other strange noises. If these noises occur, stop your car, leave the engine running and check the level of the transmission oil. If the level is at the right mark, you should consider having your transmission oil flushed.

Under normal driving use, your transmission fluid needs to be changed after every 30,000 miles or once a year. However, if you drive on dusty roads or under high-stress conditions, you might need to flush it more often. When in doubt, consult with your mechanic to know how often to change your transmission oil.