Written by Craig B

Transmission Fluid FAQ

How Are Motor Oil and Transmission Fluid Different?

Motor oil is required to manage engine combustion and keep the engine cool, and it must be replaced at least annually, if not more frequently. Transmission fluid is required to keep the transmission system cool, but since it is a closed system, it requires replacement much less frequently than engine oil.

What Are The Various Types of Transmission Fluid?

There are automatic transmission fluids and manual transmission fluids, and some modern manual transmission systems may even require automatic transmission fluid (ATF). Check your owner’s handbook or contact your local repair center to ensure that you are purchasing the correct fluid.

There are also traditional and synthetic transmission fluids. Traditional transmission fluid is derived from crude oil, but synthetic transmission fluid is derived from specialized chemical reactions that render it more resistant to oxidation and thermal degradation.

What Does Transmission Fluid Look Like?

Transmission fluid has the same viscosity and slickness as motor oil, but it is colored a dark transparent red to aid in identification. If it begins to darken or turns completely black, it is necessary to change the transmission fluid.

What Smell Does Transmission Fluid Have?

Transmission fluid has a petroleum-like odor. If you detect a burnt odor, you should change your transmission oil as soon as possible.

How Do I Inspect Transmission Fluid?

It is prudent to inspect your transmission fluid levels and condition once a month in order to detect problems before they become severe:

  • Before inspecting the fluid, you must start your vehicle and ensure the engine is warm. On front-wheel drive vehicles, the transmission fluid dipstick is often located to the right of the motor oil dipstick.
  • Check the fluid level with the dipstick and ensure it reaches the “full” indication. Use a funnel to add additional liquid if necessary.
  • Check the fluid’s look and odor to ensure it does not require replacement.

How Often Should Transmission Fluid Be Changed?

Depending on the age of your vehicle, type of transmission, and driving circumstances, you should replace your transmission fluid every 50,000 to 100,000 miles if there are no abnormalities when you inspect the fluid. Check your owner’s manual for more specific instructions.

Transmission Service, Repair, & Replacement Services in Phoenix, AZ

We offer a full range of auto transmission repair and replacement services from automatic transmission to manual transmission to the entire Phoenix Metro area.

*Disclaimer – This is not an actual quote. Your transmission repair or replacement cost could be different than the prices you see on this guide. The only way to get an actual estimate is by searching for transmission repair and replacement shops near you. Contact Automatic Transmission Exchange if you are in the Phoenix area and need transmission repair or replacement.