The purpose of transmission fluid is to lubricate the transmission’s internal components and keep them cooled down. It is kind of like how engine oil does the same thing for engine components. Remember that engine power is transmitted to the wheels by the transmission system. There are two types of transmissions that a vehicle may have: automatic transmission and manual transmission. Each of these transmission systems uses a different type of transmission fluid too.
Automatic transmissions are convenient for most drivers because they automatically change gears for them as they drive. Inside of an automatic transmission is an oil pan, transmission fluid, and the transmission filter. Aside from lubricating the components, the automatic transmission fluid gives power to the transmission so that it can switch gears when necessary.
The manual transmission is the older type of transmission system in a vehicle. As the name indicates, the gears need to be changed manually because there is no automation or hydraulics in this system. Instead, manual transmissions are mechanical systems and the driver must use the stick shift to switch gears when they slow down or speed up. Of course, a manual transmission still needs transmission fluid, but it must be manual transmission fluid made for lubricating its mechanical components. Failure to lubricate these components properly will result in lots of strange noises and sounds being made as you drive.
Average Cost to Change Automatic Transmission Fluid
The automatic transmission requires constant lubrication because of how it automatically changes gears regularly. For this reason, the automatic transmission fluid is often more expensive than manual transmission fluid because it needs to be formulated stronger. On top of that, you must pay the labor costs for the mechanic to do the work for you. This is obviously not something a layperson should try on their own.
When you go to the auto shop to have them change your automatic transmission fluid, they will need to change your oil pan gasket and oil filter too. This means additional parts costs on top of the cost of the fluid itself. Therefore, the total automatic transmission fluid replacement job should cost you between $275 and $450. The cost of the parts is between $175 and $250, factoring in the oil pan and oil filter too. The labor costs total between $100 and $200. You can expect taxes and fees to be added to these prices.
Cost to Change Manual Transmission Fluid
Changing your manual transmission fluid is very inexpensive. Unlike with the automatic transmission, the manual transmission does not use a gasket or filter. This means you don’t need to pay to replace these components because they don’t exist in the manual transmission system. Your only parts expense will be for the fluid itself, which is between $30 and $70 on average. The bigger expense will be for the labor of having the service person change the oil for you. Their labor cost is likely going to be between $60 and $100. So, your total expense for replacing your manual transmission fluid will be between $90 and $170. This should be affordable for most people who regularly get maintenance done to their vehicle.
Automatic transmission fluid typically gets changed every 100,000 miles in an automatic vehicle. At the same time, you’re expected to change your oil filter and oil pan gasket too. As for the manual transmission fluid of a manual vehicle, that gets changed at least every 30,000 miles. Although, you may be able to get away with every 60,000 miles. It all depends on what your car’s manufacturer recommends in the owner’s manual. It should tell you their recommended number of miles in there.