Automatic Transmission Service
Apart from your engine, your Automatic Transmission is the single most expensive item to repair on your car. Its also the most overlooked and neglected item when it comes to servicing!
Automatic transmission overhauls can be very costly, starting at around $2000 for a basic transmission and going up and over $10,000 for more extravagant units. It’s little wonder the transmission guys are rubbing their hands together every time they see a tow truck pull into their driveway!
Sure, you change or engine oil every 10-15,000 k’s to prevent engine wear, you replace your spark plugs “before” they start breaking down, you even renew your coolant every 2 years to slow down corrosion of cooling system components, but what about servicing your automatic transmission, such a complex, intricate and expensive component that often gets overlooked…. until it’s too late!
But there is a way to prevent premature failure and extend the service life of your automatic transmission. A way to get maximum service life, maximum performance and smoother shifting. A way to save money in the long term and have a safer, more reliable vehicle in the short term.
It’s called…….Regular Servicing!
Whats Involved in an Automatic Transmission Service?
- Depending on the manufacturers recommendations, a transmission service generally consists of removing the transmission pan to replace the filter and inspect for evidence of transmission wear or component failure, and renewing the transmission fluid.
- Some cars have a sealed transmission which is not serviceable. There is no transmission pan or access to an internal filter. We recommend fitting of an external “in line” filter which can be replaced at the recommended service intervals and can greatly increase the life of your transmission.
- We recommend “Flushing” the transmission fluid for an effective automatic transmission service. A typical transmission holds about 10 litres of transmission fluid, about half of which is held in the transmission pan. The other half is stored in the transmissions internal components and torque converter. When you drain and refill an automatic transmission you are effectively only changing half of the fluid. It is important to do a flush in order to renew all of the fluid and remove all of the contaminants from your transmission.
- To flush an automatic transmission we first drain and refill the transmission and renew the filter as required. With new fluid now in the transmission pan we flush by removing the return line from the transmission oil cooler and starting the engine to pump out all the old fluid while simultaneously pumping new fluid into the transmission until the fluid coming out of the transmission is clean.
- After servicing the transmission we road test the vehicle to check for smooth shifting and correct operation. This also brings the transmission to the correct operating temperature in order to correctly check the transmission fluid level and adjust it if necessary.
How Often Should I Service My Automatic Transmission?
- At an absolute minimum your cars automatic transmission should be serviced according to your vehicle manufacturers recommended service intervals.
- We recommend servicing your automatic transmission every 40,000 Kms or 24 months when used under normal operating conditions.
- Under harsh driving conditions such as constant stop/start city driving, towing, off road or beach use, we recommend servicing your transmission at least every 20,000 Kms or 12 months to keep your transmission running properly, extend the service life and avoid costly repair bills.
- Some modern transmissions are filled with “long life” or “filled for life” transmission fluid which have extended service intervals or are recommended by the manufacturer to not require servicing. We recommend servicing these transmissions every 60,000 Kms or 36 months to increase service life and prevent transmission failure.
How Much Does An Automatic Transmission Service Cost?
The cost of an automatic transmission service can vary greatly depending on a number of factors including;
- The cost of the service kit (pan gasket and filter) or external filter if required.
- The amount of fluid which your transmission holds.
- The condition of the fluid in your transmission, very dirty transmissions may require more fluid for flushing.
- The type of fluid required for use in your transmission, there are a many types of automatic transmission fluids most of which can be replaced with a quality “multi-vehicle fluid”, but some vehicles require a manufacturer specific or long life fluid which can be quite costly.
What Else Can I Do To Prolong My Transmissions Service Life?
- Ensure that you don’t overheat your transmission when used under harsh operating conditions. Overheating is the major cause of premature transmission failure and can be prevented by optimising your driving style to suit the conditions, such as selecting a lower gear when towing or going up hills when fully loaded, selecting low range (if possible) when driving through soft sand. Detailed explanations of driving requirements for your vehicle can be found in your owners manual.
- Fitting and external oil cooler can help reduce transmission temperatures as well as bypassing the radiator which is another common cause of transmission failure. Should an internal cooler line split, water from your cars radiator could enter the transmission causing near immediate and catastrophic failure.
- Stop completely before shifting from reverse to drive (and vise versa). Another common cause of transmission failure is repetitively shifting from revers into drive, most commonly reversing out the driveway or car park and shifting into “D” before coming to a complete stop. This causes a lot of strain on internal components and can cause catastrophic failure in extreme circumstances.