Car routine maintenance is the key to longevity for any engine. This statement of fact is especially true for cars, trucks, and SUVs that travel the highways and byways across the United States daily. While many of us are pretty good about having our engine oil replaced, radiators flushed, and tires rotated, one routine service often overlooked is the transmission flush. In fact, it’s frequent for many vehicle owners to ask whether a transmission flush is vital or just a good idea.
Having a transmission flushed every 30,000 to 50,000 miles is crucial, particularly if you drive a vehicle with an automatic transmission. Let’s take a look at the top 4 reasons why having your automatic transmission fluid flushed as recommended is indeed required.
How Automatic Transmission Fluid Functions
There is often some confusion as to how an automatic transmission operates. Simply put, an automatic transmission is a hydraulic system that depends on a consistent flow of transmission fluid levels to supply hydraulic pressure in order to function. Transmission fluid is different than engine oil — it is designed with a specific viscosity and a combination of additives that help lower expansion as the fluid is heated. This keeps the car’s transmission fluid consistent, which allow it to flow efficiently through each hydraulic line inside the transmission. Over time and with continued use, the additives will start to wear out, which causes the fluid to thin and get more susceptible to expansion due to heat. Dirty transmission fluid needs to be changed with new fluid for ideal performance.
Why is a Transmission Flush needed?
A transmission flush is similar to other vehicle fluid changes. When you or a mechanic carries out an oil change, it’s a rather simple process. They’ll take out the oil pan bolt, remove the oil filter, and let the old fluid drain until it stops flowing. However, it doesn’t fully remove all of the engine oil. Inside the engine block and cylinder heads are a series of galleys that keep a small portion of oil to lubricate moving components until the new oil is circulated through the engine. An automatic transmission’s fluid is kept inside the hydraulic lines, so it needs to be flushed or pushed through the lines to drain effectively. This equally serves a secondary purpose. The transmission flush also pushes debris and other small particles that develop from the transmission filter’s worn out fibers.
Here are 4 reasons why this process is so vital for those with automatic transmissions:
- It extends the transmission lifespan: If the transmission’s internal hydraulic lines get clogged, it can cause inner seals to break, which produces internal leaks and can result to complete transmission failure. By having the fluid flushed and filters replaced every 30,000 to 50,000 miles, you significantly lower the potential of damage and can extend its lifespan.
- It improves smooth shifting: When transmission fluid is changed and the fluid is flushed, it improves the efficient flow of transmission fluid throughout the system. The end result is that the transmission shift will be smoother.
- It is important to protect warranties: Most new vehicle, trucks, and SUVs come with a powertrain warranty — which protects the engine, transmission and drive-system part. However, if those systems are not maintained as advised, it can void most extended warranties and cost you a great amount of money if you need to changed them.
- It can improve fuel economy: A smooth-shifting transmission is equally critical for the efficient operation of your engine. If the transmission slips or shifts higher than the engine is set, it can and often will burn more fuel inside the engine than it should. A transmission fluid change can add to optimal fuel mileage.
You’ll observe in the information above that we haven’t mentioned transmission flushes for CVT or manual transmissions. These units function differently and have their own recommended service intervals. The best way to clarify what you should have done for your car is to contact a professional mechanic, your automotive dealership or investigate your owner’s manual for a transmission service maintenance schedule. This will show you when all the recommended services are needed and suggested to keep your car running strong and protect those warranties.