April is Nation Car Care Month and although every month is car care month at Foreign Car Specialists we would like to take this opportunity to jump on the awareness bandwagon and present you all with some tidbits of car care advice.
It's no secret that regular maintenance is the key to preserving the life of your car. Our job is to be your vehicle's advocate. We're here to do everything you can't or don't want to do yourself and, help you keep your car for however long you want.
Transmission fluid changes seem to be one service that customers hem and haw over. Should it be done, can it wait? Opinions vary from one customer to the next. The truth of the matter is this - the transmission is one of the most complex and costly systems in your vehicle to repair and if it fails completely you could end up spending thousands of dollars in repairs.
Transmission fluid is the life blood of your transmission's health. It serves as both a lubricant and as a hydraulic fluid which keeps vital components moving smoothly. It also acts as a coolant to keep mechanical parts operating at proper temperatures. Over time, however, transmission fluid deteriorates. It loses viscosity which impedes its ability to provide lubrication. It can acquire a burnt smell indicating the possibility of mechanical problems and it can also contain particles and debris which is certain to wear out delicate, precise gearing prematurely.
How do we know when it is necessary to change transmission fluid? Many vehicle manufacturers recommend transmission fluid changes every 30,000 to 60,000 miles and sometimes more often than that, depending on how the vehicle is driven.
A more precise answer to the "how often should I change my transmission fluid?" question is determined when a vehicle comes in for any service at Foreign Car Specialists. Every car that comes in to the shop receives an in depth, multi point courtesy inspection at no charge to the customer. More than fifty items are inspected and notated via our digital vehicle inspection. This includes checking for the need of an automatic transmission fluid service. Each vehicle's unique identification number (VIN) and current mileage is entered into their manufacturer's data base to identify which services are due based on time and mileage. Dark fluid does not necessarily mean you need fresh fluid, but it is necessary to always check the vehicle maintenance schedule for manufacturer recommendations.
Some repair facilities will use flush systems which force out the old fluid and pump in new rather than just allowing the old fluid to gently drain out. Although that sounds good, many manufacturers advise against that process. Additionally, automatic transmissions often have filters which should be replaced when the fluid is changed. Most of today's vehicles require manufacturer-specific automatic transmission fluid (ATF). Not only will it extend the life of your transmission but using other types could actually cause damage and/or void manufacturers' factory warranties. It is imperative that the correct fluid and procedures are used.
If you're planning on keeping your vehicle a few years or longer then we suggest you always follow recommendations and have any outstanding services done. Keep in mind, though, fresh fluid is not a magical cure-all for slipping gears, rough shifting or other mechanical transmission troubles.
A typical automatic transmission fluid service at Foreign Car Specialists takes about an hour to perform and since we only use vehicle-specific fluids and filters the cost for parts will vary. Our job is to do what is best for your vehicle and with that, we will provide education, estimates and appointment coordination as necessary. The customer however is always in charge to make informed choices with regard to the care of their vehicle.