Does Transmission Fluid Need To Be Changed? (Here Is Why)

Does Transmission Fluid Need To Be Changed

Have you ever asked yourself or your friend if transmission fluid needs to be changed or when to change transmission fluid? Well, you are at the perfect place to find the answer to such a question.

There are some people that will never switch out the transmission fluid on their vehicle. With modern vehicles, you may be able to get away with this.

However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider changing your transmission fluid every so often. Let’s explain.

Does Transmission Fluid Need To Be Changed?

The job of the transmission fluid in your vehicle is to lubricate the transmission. Clean, fresh transmission fluid will keep your transmission chugging along nicely.

Whether you have a manual or an automatic vehicle, there will be transmission fluid in there.

As we said, with modern vehicles, you may be able to get away with never changing your transmission fluid. Transmission fluid lasts an incredibly long time (more on that soon). However, there are times when you will need to change your transmission fluid.

If there is a leak of fluid, dirty transmission fluid, etc. then driving could be downright dangerous. This is because you won’t be able to change gears as efficiently.

So, what does this mean? Well, it means that you may need to change your transmission fluid, but you probably won’t need to change it anywhere as often as you may think.

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How Often Should You Change Your Transmission Fluid?

This will be dependent on two factors:

  • The type of transmission that your vehicle has
  • How heavy and often you are changing gears.

If you have a manual transmission, then you only need to change your transmission fluid every 30,000 to 60,000 miles.

As we said, a lot of people will never need to change their transmission fluid, simply because they are not traveling these sorts of distances.

If you have an automatic vehicle, then you may be able to travel 80,000 miles before that transmission fluid needs to be changed.

Again, distances that many vehicle owners will never reach with their vehicle, particularly if they have bought their vehicle new.

If you are putting the gearing system under a lot of pressure, then you may want to halve these figures.

So, a manual transmission can probably go 15,000 miles, while an automatic vehicle can go 30,000 to 40,000 without a fluid change.

Of course, these are just guideline figures. If you open up your vehicle’s manual, this should give you a wealth of information on how often you should be changing the transmission fluid in your vehicle. Always stick to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Trust us. They know your vehicle better than we know your vehicle (since we can’t actually see what type of vehicle you own, after all!)

How Do You Know When To Change Your Transmission Fluid

If you go by the manufacturer’s guidelines, then you should change the transmission fluid whenever the vehicle’s manufacturer recommends that it should be changed, even if you do not notice any change in the way that your vehicle’s gearing system works.

However, there are a few telltale signs that you should be on the lookout for. These should indicate if you need to change your vehicle’s transmission fluid a little bit earlier.

For example, if you notice a change in the way that your vehicle’s gear changes sound, particularly if you have an automatic vehicle, then it is probably time to have that transmission fluid changed, or you should at least have the transmission checked to ensure that there are no issues with it.

If you notice that the gears are grinding when you switch gears, then you will probably need to have the transmission fluid replaced.

The same happens if you are noticing gears that are slipping, or perhaps you are having difficulties switching gears.

Of course, if you notice that the transmission fluid is leaking, then you should probably get yourself to a garage as soon as possible. Transmission fluid leaking is never a good thing. It means that you have a serious issue somewhere in the system that needs to be dealt with.

Honestly, at this point, changing out your transmission fluid is probably going to be the least of your worries.

Can You Change the Transmission Fluid Yourself?

Yes, you can. However, do bear in mind that it is not going to be the easiest job in the world. You probably will end up getting pretty messy.

Honestly, with how infrequently you would need to change the transmission fluid, it isn’t really a job that you should carry out yourself.

You are not going to be saving all that much in the way of cash. Plus, by the time the transmission fluid needs to be changed in your vehicle, there could be a variety of issues that may have gone unnoticed.

So, if you take your vehicle along to a professional, not only can they keep an eye out for these issues, but they will be able to fix them.

If you do the job yourself, bear in mind that you are going to need to ensure that you pick up the right transmission fluid for your vehicle.

There are a ton of different options on the market. Once again, consulting the vehicle’s manual is going to make sense here.

It will tell you absolutely everything that you need to know about getting the right transmission fluid inside your vehicle.

If you choose the wrong one, then you could mess up the vehicle’s internals. Again, another reason why you should probably be consulting with a professional here.


Transmission fluid in a vehicle will likely need to be changed but, for most people, you will probably only be changing it once every few years.

In some vehicles, it may never need to be replaced, particularly if you have an automatic vehicle. If you want to know whether the transmission fluid in your vehicle needs to be changed out, we suggest you read through your vehicle’s owner’s manual.

It will tell you a rough time schedule for this type of maintenance and, perhaps more importantly, the type of transmission fluid that you should be using. 


Steve P.

Steve is an automotive technician, technical writer, and Managing Editor. He has held a lifelong passion for cars, with a particular interest in cars like the Buick Riviera. Steve is based in Boise, Idaho.

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