Transmission Service Tech Tip
We get a lot of calls every day with questions on servicing a transmission. It can be very confusing when inquiring on when to service a transmission, how it should be done and how much it costs. We hope that this will answer some of your questions and feel free to give us a call at (209) 551-4050 if you have any further questions. One of our certified transmission techs will be happy to help you.
Why do transmission repair shops offer a transmission flush?
Older transmissions did not have solenoids, and the valves were not as prone to sticking as the newer transmission valves. Some also had drain plugs so you could get more fluid out. Then in the 80’s and 90’s, car makers started using electronic transmissions that had solenoids and smaller springs in the valve body which were more prone to sticking. These electronic transmission also came with smaller bearings that failed if not properly lubricated. These changes created a greater need for a complete fluid change, which lead to the development of transmission flushing machines which do a more thorough job of changing the transmission fluid.
If you take a cup of coffee and pour half of it out, then fill the cup back up with water, it still looks like coffee. The same is with the transmission fluid, if you only remove a portion of the used fluid and then top it off with clean fluid. The result is that you still have dirty fluid in your transmission, that is not lubricating properly.
Can a flush hurt the transmission?
We use a machine that does not put any pressure on the transmission, it will not hurt the transmission in any way. We drive every vehicle before and after servicing them to make sure it is operating properly. If we feel that the fluid is too burnt or there is existing transmission problems, we will not perform the service.
How often should I service my transmission?
If your vehicle is still under the factory warranty or if you have an extended warranty. It is very important to service the transmission within their recommended service periods. This should be in their contract and/or in your owner’s manual. The intervals change with different types of vehicles. Important! Remember to keep your receipts for all services done as they may ask for these, should you need any repairs done under factory or extended warranty, in the future. They may even ask for engine oil change receipts, even though you are having a transmission problem, so it is a good idea to keep all your vehicle maintenance receipts together.
(We recommend checking the condition of your fluid every year or 12,000 miles with overdrive transmissions, and sooner if your vehicle is used for heavy towing or over heated for any reason). Your transmission fluid should be a pink color on most vehicles and should not smell burnt. If it is smells or black, it is time to take it in and have your transmission checked. Servicing may be recommended after the transmission is checked for other problems.
What is the difference between a basic service and a complete flush?
On a basic service, the pan is removed and the filter is cleaned or replaced. Most transmissions only allow you to change about 4-5 quarts of fluid with this method, they hold about 12-14 quarts. With a flushing machine, we are able to flush the fluid out of the cooler and torque converter to do a more thorough job.
Should the filter be changed when servicing the transmission?
Yes. We recommend removing the pan and changing or cleaning the filter where applicable. Some filters are internal and can not be changed without disassembling the transmission which is not feasible.
“You wouldn’t change your engine oil without replacing oil your filter, nor should you with your transmission.”
There are a few transmissions that the filter is internal and can not be changed without disassembling the transmission. In this case we recommend monitoring your fluid condition even more often to prevent any sticking valves or solenoids. Honda is common to have this type of transmission on some of their models. Call and one of our techs can advise you what type you have.
Will a transmission Service fix my transmission problem?
If you are having a transmission problem like shifting issues, slipping, etc. We do not recommend wasting your money on having it serviced until you have it checked out by a knowledgeable transmission technician.
Very rarely will a transmission service fix a problem unless you just have a valve sticking intermittently, however it is very important to keep your transmission properly maintained to help avoid problems. Most of today’s transmissions do not have band adjustments, however some of the Dodge Pickups and many older vehicles have them and a band adjustment help with some problems.
If you are having a transmission problem, first check your fluid level and color of the fluid. If it is low, try topping it off or bring it by and we can do it for you. Low fluid can cause several problems. If it was low, have it checked for leaks. If the fluid is full but very dirty, this may be the sign of a transmission problem and should be checked out.
For example, we do not recommend servicing the transmission if it is slipping, having any other issues or any transmission codes. A service is more for maintenance and will rarely repair a problem. Changing the transmission fluid at this point could make your situation worse and be a waste of money. You are better off having the transmission diagnosed at this point.
Should I use a stop leak product in my transmission?
No, we do not recommend putting any stop leak products in your transmission. They are designed to swell the seals which may fix your leak but will also swell the internal seals and could do more harm than good, to your transmission. If you are broken down and have no other alternative and plan on rebuilding the transmission very soon anyway, then this would be a time that it could possibly be used. A transmission rebuild includes replacing the seals anyway.
There are basically three different ways to service a transmission.
1: Basic service, includes dropping the pan, cleaning or changing the filter, cleaning the pan and adding fluid. This typically only changes about 4 quarts of fluid.
We recommend this on some of the older vehicles that are not computer controlled.
2: Transmission Flush, Flushes the fluid out of the transmission, cooler, lines and torque converter, (pan does not get removed and filter does not get changed).
We recommend this when a full service can not be done or a full service has recently been done and the fluid just go hot for some reason.
3: Transmission Flush and Service, does both of above.
This is the method we recommend if applicable to your vehicle. We call it the ultimate transmission service.
We hope that this helps in understanding and maintaining your transmission. See our coupons for savings.
If you have any further questions, please give us a call at (209) 551-4050.
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CTT Transmissions serves the following areas: Turlock, Patterson, Waterford, Ceres, Modesto, Riverbank, Ripon, Escalon, Oakdale, Sonora, Don Pedro and surrounding areas. Remember to save our phone number in your cell phone.
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