Question: From Janet B. When should I know when to change my automatic transmission fluid?

That is a good question that I would be happy to answer for you. In my book “If That Car Could Talk” I go into great detail about automatic transmission fluid replacement on page 102. A lot depends on how you work your transmission, do you tow a trailer? Do you load up your car heavily on a daily basis? Do you drive in the city more than the highway with lots of stop and go driving? If you answered yes to these questions  I suggest that you follow the maintenance schedule in your owners manual under severe conditions.

There are so many variables in driving conditions that an individual can subject their vehicle to. The best way I have found to check to see when your automatic transmission fluid should be replaced is have a sample taken to examine the color of the fluid. When you bring your vehicle for a service ask the service adviser to check your automatic transmissions fluid level and you want a small sample of the fluid drained into a container so you can inspect it. If you look at the picture above you will see three glass vile’s,  The one on the far left has nice new red transmission fluid, in the middle you have fluid that is darker and should be replaced at this point. The vile on the far right is almost completely black and may be too late to replace it. I have had been asked to replace or “flush” black looking transmission fluid to resolve a  poor shifting issue, and it usually never helps the symptoms. In a nutshell replace the fluid before it gets too dirty,period.  Thank you for your question Janet.

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