Last Updated on March 26, 2021
If you are driving a car with an automatic transmission, then you will need to change the automatic transmission fluid (ATF) according to the manufacturer’s change interval.
In most cases, this will be about every 100,000 miles. You will also need to change the filter as well.
Unlike changing your engine oil and filter which is typically a simple procedure, most car owners will be better off having a professional completing this maintenance task due to it being more complex in nature. In many cases, there is no drain plug.
Automatic Transmission Fluid Change Cost
The average cost at an independent repair shop for a job like this can run anywhere between $150 and $250. These costs just cover the fluid change itself. Labor costs will typically run between $80 and $110. Expect to pay more at a dealership.
The parts to do the job can cost you on average around $100 but can vary greatly depending on how many quarts of fluid and the type of fluid. In addition, you’ll need a new transmission filter and possibly a new pan gasket. But these are all just estimates.
In order to know what your particular costs will be, you will have to get a quote from your local mechanic or dealership but in most cases, they can do it over the phone. Usually, the year, make, and model of your vehicle will play the biggest factor in the quote or estimate they’ll give you.
Depending on the area, there will be taxes and a disposal fee added on to the shop’s total costs.
When to Change the Fluid
The average car manufacturer recommends that a vehicle should get new automatic transmission fluid every 100,000 miles and sometimes even upwards of 150,000 miles. However, most mechanics and automotive repair shops will tell you that you need to get it done every 60,000 to 75,000 miles because 100,000 miles is simply too long.
But like with typical oil change intervals, it’s heavily dependent on your driving habits so there’s no one-size-fits-all interval.
Over time, automatic transmission fluid deteriorates just like any other automotive fluid. The longer you wait, the worse it will be for your car. This is especially true if you normally drive under severe conditions that put more stress on the transmission such as stop-and-go traffic or “spirited” driving.
But don’t worry because if you regularly take your car to a shop or dealership for oil changes, they’ll inspect your ATF and will be able to tell you the right time to get the automatic transmission fluid changed and/or flushed.
See Also: Differential Fluid Change Interval
There are some warning signs that you can pay attention to that will let you know when it is time to get a fluid change for your automatic transmission.
For example, if you have trouble changing gears in your automatic shift then it is a sign that your transmission fluid is dirty. You may also notice your vehicle surging forward or backward as a result of the dirty transmission fluid not being able to flow correctly.
Any kind of unexpected issues like this is an immediate sign to get your fluid changed right away.