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Your Manufacturer Doesn’t Have a Recommended Transmission Drain Interval: Now What?

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Manufacturer recommendations are the best guide you can follow for vehicle maintenance, but not all automakers provide the same level of detail. If you consult your car's manuals, you may find detailed intervals for everything from oil changes to power steering fluid flushes. On the other hand, you may discover that your manufacturer only recommends a few essential services.

Occasionally draining and replacing your transmission fluid is a critical task to prolong its life and performance, but what if your manufacturer doesn't provide a recommended service interval? In these cases, you may need to do a little more research and legwork to determine the best option for your specific vehicle.

Why Should You Change Your Transmission Fluid?

Of course, you might wonder if fluid replacement is all that critical if your manufacturer doesn't provide a specific recommendation. The gear oil you use in your transmission plays several essential roles in its operation. In addition to lubricating its internal parts, this fluid also provides hydraulic pressure and acts as a coolant.

Degraded or poor-quality transmission fluid can cause internal parts to wear out more quickly. Once these parts fail, there's little you can do to repair your transmission. If symptoms become severe enough to prevent you from driving your car, you'll usually need to either replace the whole thing or pay for a costly rebuild.

Manufacturers that don't recommend change intervals use a "lifetime fluid." Unfortunately, these fluids won't necessarily last for the life of your vehicle. Although transmission fluid doesn't tend to become unusable as quickly as motor oil, you shouldn't expect a lifetime fluid to last forever. At a minimum, particulate matter from normal wear and tear can cause the fluid to degrade over time.

When Should You Drain Your Fluid?

There's no one-size-fits-all rule for transmission fluid replacements. If you don't have a manufacturer-recommended service interval, then it's a good idea to have a trusted mechanic routinely check the condition of your fluid. If it appears worn-out, dirty, or burnt, then it's probably time to schedule a transmission drain.  

Under normal driving conditions, you should probably expect to perform a drain and refill around every 100,000 miles. If you want to ensure your transmission lasts for as long as possible, have your mechanic check the condition of your fluid at every oil change. Although this might seem like overkill, it's an excellent way to stay ahead of potential problems.

Ultimately, knowing that your transmission requires new fluid occasionally is more important than sticking to a specific schedule. By having an experienced technician check your transmission, you can determine the best time to drain your old transmission fluid and replace it with fresh oil. Keep these tips in mind when looking for automobile transmission flid drain services.