How Much Does a Transmission Fluid Change Cost? 2023 Price Guide
There are some suggestions that the mechanic makes that cause drivers to raise their eyebrows. Everyone knows that they need to get an oil change and have their tires rotated from time to time, but what about transmission fluid? Many people shake their heads when offered a transmission fluid change, but this is a crucial part of long-term vehicle maintenance.
If transmission fluid change is so important, how much does it cost? You can expect to pay between $300 and $600. When compared to replacing a transmission completely, the cost of having the fluid changed is negligible. This guide will cover the costs of a transmission fluid change, as well as the breakdown of parts, labor, additional costs, and fluid costs. You will never be surprised at the mechanics again next time they bring up the topic of transmission fluid change.
Is Transmission Fluid Important?
Yes, transmission fluid is a vital part of a vehicle’s maintenance. The transmission is a moving part, and it needs clean lubricant in order to continue to run smoothly. Over time, transmission fluid will pick up dirt, dust, and debris that will begin to put wear on your transmission. In that way, transmission fluid is not dissimilar from other engine fluids like oil and coolant that need to be changed periodically.
Most people do not think about transmission fluid when they are getting their car serviced but neglecting to swap out this vital fluid can be costly. Transmissions cost anywhere from $1500 to $4000 to replace, and having your transmission go bad because you failed to swap out the fluid can be a painful shock to your wallet. Changing your transmission fluid will help keep your transmission running smoother for longer.
Cost To Change Transmission Fluid
The average cost to change your transmission fluid at a local mechanic usually runs around $400. That price includes labor, the transmission fluid, new gaskets, and filters. The whole job together, including the flush, the new fluid, and the labor, all tallies up to that $400 figure and can be done in an afternoon. Some cars have transmissions that are easier to service than others. The price at the low end will run around $300.
The most basic transmission fluid service can cost even less than $300, but it only replaces 70% of the existing fluid and does not touch any gaskets or filters that might also need servicing.
One of the biggest potential costs for a transmission fluid change is the size of the transmission and the type of transmission fluid it requires. Small sedans will only need about 5 quarts of fresh transmission fluid and can get by with basic fluid brands. High-performance vehicles or large engines can take up to 15 quarts of fluid and might require high-performance materials. The price difference could be huge.
For example, a sedan needing 5 quarts of basic transmission fluid might only pay $50 for the fluid itself. A high-performance SUV with a sport engine might need 15 quarts of expensive fluid which can run upwards of $300 in fluid alone.
Cost Of Transmission Fluid (Per Quart)
One of the most common things to go bad on a transmission during a fluid change is the pan gasket. This is the piece that keeps your fluid from leaking out of the transmission. It is a small part that generally only costs between $75 and $150. This cost should be included in a full-service fluid change, but it might be added on as an additional charge in some shops. This is an important part that will need to be replaced if it is suggested.
Transmission fluid filters can also be an additional cost. Transmission filters can cost anywhere from $20 to $50. Again, at most shops, this cost will be covered but it will sometimes be offered as an addon. It should be replaced when you are having your fluid replaced.
How Often Should You Get Your Transmission Fluid Changed?
Transmission fluid should be changed every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. Going beyond 60,000 miles is not advisable. Some fluids claim to be able to last up to 100,000 miles, but that will start to push your transmission to the limits and could start risking unnecessary wear and tear.
Most new vehicles on the market today are fitted with Continuous Variable Transmissions (CVT), which require more frequent fluid maintenance than older transmissions. It is always better to service your transmission too often rather than not enough. Neglecting your transmission fluid can lead to thousands of dollars of repairs down the road.
Signs Your Transmission Fluid Is Due For a Change
There are some signs that start to show up when your transmission fluid is getting old. All of the symptoms of aging transmission fluid have to do with how your car switches gears. Symptoms of bad transmission fluid include rough transitions, slipping out of gear, high transmission temperatures, delayed shifting, or your car getting stuck in gear. These signs are worrying and should be addressed.
In most cases, if the transmission hasn’t completely failed, the issues will resolve themselves after a fluid change. Ignoring these symptoms can accelerate a complete transmission failure.
Can You Change The Transmission Fluid Yourself?
Yes. Changing the transmission fluid is not particularly complicated for people who are familiar with cars. In fact, it is pretty similar to changing a car’s oil. The most important thing to remember is to get the right type of transmission fluid for your vehicle and to be sure that you fill the transmission properly. You do not want to run a transmission without fluid. That could be catastrophic.
Changing the transmission fluid yourself can save you big on labor costs. If your transmission fluid and filter are on the cheap end, you could save money on parts as well. Doing the job yourself can save anywhere from $100 to $300, depending on the vehicle.
No one wants to pony up a couple of hundred dollars for a surprise transmission fluid change at the mechanic but in this case, it is money well spent. The good news is that you will only have to do this service every 60,000 miles, and it is critically important to keep your gearbox running smoothly. If given a choice between a $300 fluid change and a $3000 transmission replacement, everyone will pick the former. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and that goes double for transmission services.
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