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What’s the Difference Between a Transmission Fluid Change and Flush?

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Have the technician check the transmission fluid at your car’s next service appointment

Engine oil isn’t the only fluid that requires regular maintenance to keep your vehicle healthy. Transmission fluid is another essential liquid that extends the life of the transmission, as well as the vehicle itself. Discover why transmission maintenance is important, then learn the difference between a transmission fluid change and flush.

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Why transmission service matters and when to do it

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Each car will have a unique service interval for transmission fluid changes
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Transmission fluid plays a key role in transmission health, by cooling and lubricating the mechanical components. This prevents your vehicle from overheating and boosts fuel efficiency. It will also reduce the chance that the transmission will need major repairs in the future, which can cost you anywhere in the range of $1,800-$3,400, according to Cashcarbuyer.com contributor Tom Harbid.

Eventually, transmission fluid gets contaminated with tiny particles as your vehicle racks up the miles, says Consumer Reports. If you’re not sure whether your car’s transmission needs a fluid change or flush, consult the owner’s manual. Depending on the model, some manufacturers recommend changing the fluid every 30,000 miles, while others recommend waiting longer before this service.

It can be tricky to inspect the transmission fluid on your own. So, we recommend asking a professional mechanic to check it the next time you service your vehicle at the dealership.

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Change vs. flush

The main difference between a transmission fluid change and flush is that the former removes most contaminants from the fluid while the latter removes all of the contaminants by draining out the old fluid and replacing it with clean, new fluid.

The cost and recommended frequency of this service are two other contrasts, according to Gold Eagle. A fluid change typically costs around $100, while a fluid flush usually costs around $150. In addition, transmission changes are common after 30,000-mile intervals of driving. Flushes, on the other hand, can be performed less frequently (after 60,000-mile intervals).

Familiarize yourself with these tell-tale signs that your automatic transmission needs attention. Then discover nine strategies for extending your transmission’s shelf life.