The Average Transmission Fluid Change Cost Is $230 and $475 Depending on Your Car, Your Transmission, and if You Go to the Mechanic or DIY.
Cost at the Mechanic: $412 to $475
- Parts: $230 to $290
- Labor: $182 to $185
DIY Difficulty Level: Intermediate
Cost to DIY: $230 to $290
Urgency: Perform this service within a month to avoid vehicle damage.
*These prices are based on national averages found on RepairPal.com. Related repairs or maintenance may also be needed. For a custom maintenance schedule based on your make, model, and mileage, download the free FIXD app.
What Is a Transmission Fluid Change?
Your transmission delivers power from your engine to your wheels through a series of gears. It contains a fluid that acts as a lubricant and in some cases the drive system itself. This fluid gets old and dirty over time and requires regular replacement.
Some transmissions have filters for their fluid, which should get replaced as well if so equipped.
To read more about what’s involved in changing your transmission fluid, read our instructions for how to do it on manual and automatic transmissions.
What Happens If You Don’t Change Your Transmission Fluid?
Small particles from normal wear and tear get trapped in your transmission fluid. These cause extra wear on components if the fluid doesn’t get changed. Eventually, old fluid can cause your transmission to start slipping, get stuck in gear, or refuse to go into gear. At this point, your entire transmission needs to be rebuilt or replaced, which is far more expensive than the transmission fluid change cost.
Depending on your vehicle and transmission type, it may be possible to change your transmission fluid on your own. Manual transmissions are particularly easy to do yourself. Traditional automatics require removing the drain pan and making a bit of a mess, so it’s usually better to have a shop do that.
Transmission Fluid Change vs. Flush
Many shops and quick-lube places offer a transmission fluid flush rather than a simple change. Like a brake fluid flush, this service replaces nearly all of the fluid in your transmission, while a simple fluid change only replaces about 70% of the fluid.
Transmissions are very different from brakes, though. While brakes are simple, transmissions are highly complex pieces of equipment. It’s possible to actually damage a transmission by flushing fluid through it with too much pressure. Even more critically, a transmission fluid flush doesn’t replace the filter inside the transmission. You may have fresh fluid afterward, but a dirty filter can still cause problems, as well as make the new fluid dirty very quickly.
So when it comes to transmissions, it’s actually better to simply change the fluid than do a flush. This is how the manufacturer intends the job to be done, including only replacing 70% of the fluid, and including replacing the filter while you’re in there. And you should always replace the filter if your transmission has one, even though it makes the service a bit more expensive.
How Often to Change Your Transmission Fluid?
This depends on a number of factors. Manual transmissions should have their fluid changed every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. Traditional automatic transmissions often have long service intervals, such as 100,000 miles or even never, but would benefit from having it changed more often than that. The CVT type of transmission becoming more common in modern cars requires more frequent intervals, while the dual-clutch type only requires an occasional gear oil change.
As always, check your owner’s manual to read the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, and use that as a guideline for your own particular car. You may wish to change it more frequently to avoid transmission damage. It’s much less expensive to change your fluid “too often” than to repair or replace your transmission. If you begin to have problems with your transmission, change your fluid immediately to avoid further damage.
Common Symptoms You Need to Change Your Transmission Fluid
- Your engine revs up between gear changes
- Gears do not change smoothly
- Your transmission gets locked in one gear
- Your transmission refuses to go into a gear, sometimes reverse
Claim Your Custom Maintenance Schedule
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Recovering autocross and track day enthusiast. Once turned a VW Jetta into a pickup truck. Lives in a van down by the river. Dream car: 2001 Subaru WRC rally car.