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Transmission fluid and gear oil change

Compare automatic transmission fluid and gear oil change costs and find garages

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Automatic transmission fluid

What does automatic transmission fluid do?

When we consider the functions of the transmission system, the transmission fluid is a crucial component of the system's operation. Its job is to lubricate mechanical parts, maintain fluid pressure, cooling, preventing oxidation, conditioning the gasket, and preventing rust. So, all in all, it has a very important job of keeping things running smoothly within the transmission system. 

It also helps valve operation, brake band friction, torque conversion as well as gear lubrication. Most manufacturers recommend a transmission flush and transmission fluid change every 30,000 miles or every 2 years. Some manufacturers don’t recommend the change as frequently as they suggest flushing it only every 100,000 miles and others don’t mention transmission flushes at all. 

Automatic transmissions are susceptible to damage over time, and sometimes a car owner will find, no amount of transmission fluid changes can prevent that. However, repairing or replacing an automatic transmission is a costly job, so it is better to keep to the schedule of the recommended automatic fluid change intervals.

Automatic transmission diagnostic average costs and prices

Whilst the average cost of an automatic gearbox repair is around a more costly figure of £550, the average cost of an automatic transmission diagnostic is £224. However the exact cost of automatic transmission diagnostic will depend on where you take it. The table below gives you a general idea of the costs for common car makes.

Car MakeAverage Price
Audi£260.23
BMW£256.02
Citroen£224.73
Fiat£202.49
Ford£212.54
Mercedes£205.65
MINI£254.60
Nissan£202.40
Peugeot£219.05
Volkswagen£237.12

Top warning signs that your automatic transmission fluid needs changing

If an automatic gearbox hasn’t had its scheduled service, the likelihood is that you will experience some of the following indicators which can indicate you need an automatic transmission fluid change:

  • Failure to select gears easily

  • Difficulty to change up and down smoothly and in some cars, cannot change at all

  • Vehicle jerks on gear changes

  • The car jolts when you alter the gear stick from park to drive

  • Transmission overheat warnings

  • Transmission Control Unit warning lights

Any of the above symptoms indicate that you need to have an automatic transmission fluid change, which can be booked in minutes using the booking form on our site.

  • Transmission fluid change

    Transmission fluid helps keep your gear system cool and allows parts to stay lubricated. Transmission fluid can leak or become contaminated and may need to be replaced to make sure it does its job.

    Can include
    • Transmission fluid removal
    • Transmission fluid replacement
  • Automatic transmission diagnostics

    The average cost of automatic transmission diagnostics booked on WhoCanFixMyCar is £107. An automatic car can suffer transmission faults that are hard to pinpoint due to the system’s complexity. A professional can diagnose automatic transmission problems to help you get a suitable repair.

    Can include
    • Transmission diagnostic
    • Transmission repair
  • Car diagnostic test

    The average cost of a car diagnostic booked on WhoCanFixMyCar is £48.

    Car diagnostics testing involves plugging your vehicle into special software that can reveal issues with its engine, electrical system, transmission, braking, exhaust system, and more. A specialist will run tests on your vehicle to expose the cause of any problems you're having with your car.

    Can include
    • Full diagnostic testing
    • Recommended repairs

Which automatic transmission fluid change service do you need?

Driving with bad or low automatic transmission fluid (ATF) can lead to many problems, such as transmission overheat, solenoid failure, jerky gear changes and even total gearbox failure. Automatic transmission fluid supports the lubrication to the moving parts, wear and corrosion protection and is there to transport the mechanical power. Therefore regular servicing of an automatic transmission is vital to change this fluid (and its filter where fitted) in line with manufacturers recommendation.

If you suspect there is any issue with the transmission fluid or there are concerns about its age or condition, book a service with a professional mechanic as soon as possible.

Automatic transmission fluid change

It is critical that you stick to your automatic transmission fluid change interval. The interval depends on your type or automatic transmission you have and the recommended guide by your manufacturer.

Automatic transmission flush

A transmission flush is a procedure to remove old automatic transmission fluid (ATF), sludge and grime from a vehicle's transmission and replace it with fresh fluid. Cost of an automatic transmission flush depends on your location and car make and model. Enter your vehicle registration at the top of the page to find out what you could save by having an automatic transmission flush carried out by WhoCanFixMyCar.

Automatic transmission filter change

The transmission filter is a vital component that helps prevent damage from happening to the transmission and aids it to carry out its function efficiently. From time to time, the transmission filter does need to be changed.

Automatic transmission service

An automatic transmission gearbox should be serviced at regular intervals. Every car with an automatic transmission will java a service schedule stipulated by the manufacturer.

Pricing for an automatic transmission service depends on your car and required parts..

I don’t know

Unsure of whether your car needs an automatic transmission fluid change? Book your car for a diagnostic and the mechanic will be able to tell you whether the ATF needs changing.

Common transmission fluid problems

Automatic transmissions are very complicated systems. A manual transmission is basic by comparison, and most of the things that go wrong with them are down to driver fault, or at least aggravated by the driver.

There is far more that can naturally go wrong with the automatic transmission, no matter how you drive the vehicle.  The transmission fluid is a key part of ensuring a smooth-running automatic transmission.

One familiar problem is that debris can get into your transmission fluid. Debris-filled fluid being pushed through small channels, orifices, and filters is not good. As the debris builds up, it will start to hinder the performance of some parts of the gearbox. This can result in sticking valves, causing a harsh or delayed gear change.

The worst outcome from this debris, however, is a substantial blockage of the transmission's main filter. The filter blockage may be repaired with an oil flush and a new filter.

What impacts the cost of automatic transmission fluid change?

The price you pay for an automatic transmission fluid change can be more for performance cars, because the price will depend on the quality of transmission fluid needed and the labour, parts and any specialised needs for your make and model.

You can compare average prices for automatic transmission fluid change by car using the table above.

Is an automatic transmission fluid change necessary?

To prolong the life of your automatic vehicle you should follow the routine fluid change recommendations. In automatic transmissions, the suggested service interval is about every 30,000 miles or 30 months. You must change the automatic transmission fluid sooner if the dipstick reveals a dark or burnt-smelling fluid.

Find gearbox specialists near you

We can help you find local gearbox oil change specialist garages. If you have identified that your automatic transmission fluid needs changing or flushing, the next step is to find a trustworthy garage to carry out the service.

WhoCanFixMyCar’s large network of garages and mobile mechanics. We help you find and compare quotes from reputable garages near you who will be trained to service your vehicle.

What is the function of the transmission fluid?

In relation to the transmission system, the transmission fluid is a crucial component of the system's operation. Its job is to lubricate mechanical parts, maintain fluid pressure, cooling, preventing oxidation, conditioning the gasket, and preventing rust. So, all in all, it has a very important job of keeping things running smoothly within the transmission system.

What happens if I don’t change the automatic transmission fluid at its regular intervals?

If you don't change your transmission fluid regularly as recommended, the dirty debris filled fluid will not serve as an effective lubricant and it won't disperse heat well. This will cause damage to the clutches and other parts of your transmission.

How do I know that the automatic transmission fluid has had a change recently?

Transmission fluid is bright pink when it is fresh. This will indicate it doesn’t need changing. If it's light brown with a hint of pink then it needs to be changed. If it hasn't been changed in a long time then it will be very dark brown.

How often should automatic transmission fluid be changed?

Many manufacturers recommend that you should replace transmission fluid every 30,000 to 60,000 miles.

What are the signs that I need an automatic transmission flush?

There are several signs which indicate your car needs an automatic transmission flush:

  • Unusual noises such as clicking or grinding from the transmission

  • You are having problems with shifting the gears

  • Leaks when changing or shifting gear

  • Movement delay 

  • Car jerking involuntarily

Can I change the automatic transmission fluid myself?

Some transmission pans don't have drain plugs, which means changing the fluid can be a messy prospect  and the whole pan will need to be taken off. Changing transmission fluid is one of those messy and difficult jobs that is probably better left to the professionals.

What is the difference between transmission fluid and gearbox oil?

The difference between transmission fluid and gearbox oil is simply that transmission fluid is designed to work with automatic vehicles, whilst gearbox oil is designed to work with manual vehicles.

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