What Does Transmission Fluid Do? And Other Frequently Asked Questions

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The oil isn't the only lubricant in your car that needs to be replaced on a regular basis. Your car's transmission fluid also needs regular changing. Transmission fluid is important to the functionality and operation of your transmission. Knowing what the transmission fluid does and how you can maintain it can help you take care of your car.

What does transmission fluid do?

Transmission fluid is a liquid that lubricates the parts of the transmission, enabling smooth operation and easy gear change. Transmission fluid also helps cool the transmission, which reduces pressure on the transmission and prevents the individual parts of the transmission from becoming warped or damaged.

How often does transmission fluid need to be replaced?

Transmission fluid should be changed at regular intervals, with many car companies calling for the fluid to be replaced every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. Some cars require changing more frequently, however. This is especially true for cars that do a lot of stop and go driving and cars that haul heavy loads on a regular basis.

What can happen if you don't replace your transmission fluid?

Over time, your transmission fluid will begin to deteriorate and may develop impurities. As this happens, it loses it slippery quality and becomes ineffective as a lubricant or coolant for your transmission. This can lead your transmission to become overheated, causing the parts to become damaged.

How can you tell when it's time to replace your transmission fluid?

New transmission fluid is a pink or reddish color. Once the transmission fluid starts to deteriorate, it turns a darker color, eventually becoming black. In addition, transmission fluid that needs to be replaced will take on a burnt odor, which can also permeate the transmission itself. To check your transmission fluid, do the following:

  1. Turn on the engine and let it run. The engine temperature should rise to its normal levels before checking your transmission fluid.
  2. Open the hood and remove the dipstick poking out of the transmission. If you're not sure where your transmission is located, check your car's owner's manual.
  3. Touch the end of the dipstick to your finger or to a paper towel. The fluid should be pinkish and odorless. If the fluid is black or smells burnt, this is an indication that the fluid needs to be changed.
  4. Replace the dipstick in the transmission.

If your transmission fluid needs to be replaced, take it in to a mechanic to avoid damage to your transmission and necessary transmission repair. For more information, contact a center like Integrity Transmission & Auto Service Center.