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Automatic Transmission Filter Change Cost

Know what price you should pay to get your vehicle fixed.

Trans Fluid & Filter Replacement
The average cost for an automatic transmission fluid/filter change is between $244 and $339. Labor costs are estimated between $96 and $123 while parts are priced between $148 and $216. Estimate does not include taxes and fees.
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What is the automatic transmission fluid and filter?

Automatic transmission fluid keeps the transmission lubricated and functioning properly. The transmission filter works to keep dirt and other particles out of the fluid, and thus out of your transmission.

The transmission is responsible for sending the right amount of engine power to the driveshaft or axles, and making them go at the speed you want. The automatic transmission shifts gears automatically, adjusts to driving demands, and keeps the engine running in an optimum range for a given speed.

How do the transmission fluid and filter work?

An automatic transmission uses sets of clutches or bands to determine the car's gear ratio. Different clutches or bands being engaged or released will change the gear ratio. Automatic transmission fluid lubricates these clutches and bands, while still giving them gripping force. Through normal operation, the fluid will begin to carry small particles from wearing internal components. The automatic transmission filter will remove the particles to prevent them from causing damage to the transmission.

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What are the symptoms of the automatic transmission fluid or filter going bad?

When the transmission filter becomes clogged with debris, you may notice the engine revving when you're not accelerating the vehicle — this is called transmission slipping. When the filter is so clogged that transmission fluid can't be pumped through it, the transmission won't be able to produce the hydraulic pressure it needs to move its internal components. If the car is low on transmission fluid, the same symptoms will occur. Driving after the transmission begins slipping will damage its bands and clutches, as well as the transmission front pump.

Can I drive with a transmission fluid or filter problem?

Driving a vehicle that has passed the manufacturer specified service interval is not generally recommended. The vehicle can be safely driven, but skipping maintenance may cost you far more in the long run. If you're past the scheduled maintenance mileage, you should take your car in as soon as you can to get it done.

If the vehicle has any transmission issues that are causing you drivability concerns, or any of the symptoms noted here, the vehicle should be towed to a repair facility for diagnostics.

How often do I need to replace the automatic transmission fluid and filter?

Changing the transmission fluid and filter is a scheduled maintenance item for most vehicles. Still, automatic transmission issues can happen any time. It is more common to see high-mileage vehicles in poor condition because of neglected maintenance. Performing factory maintenance on schedule is the best way to help prevent transmission failure and keep the transmission shifting smoothly.

Manufacturers set different service intervals, so be sure to check your maintenance schedule here or in your owner's manual.

How are automatic transmission fluid and filter issues diagnosed?

Transmission fluid and filter changes normally do not require a diagnosis. They are most often completed as scheduled maintenance, or as part of a repair that requires draining the transmission fluid. If the transmission is being diagnosed for other issues, the fluid and filter may be replaced as a step in the diagnosis, or the transmission may require flushing.

How are the transmission fluid and filter replaced?

For many transmissions, the transmission oil pan must first be removed in order to change the fluid and filter. The transmission pan gasket, which is the most common source of a transmission leak, is replaced as part of the service. The filter typically has only a few screws at most, and the transmission pan can be replaced and filled with transmission fluid.

RepairPal recommendations for transmission fluid and filter issues

We recommend using replacement transmission filters that original equipment manufacturer-quality or better. Inferior filters can let through small particles that can quickly damage internal components. By using a quality filter, the transmission is protected from these particles.

What to look out for when dealing with transmission fluid and filter issues

There are many types of transmission fluids, and they are not typically interchangeable. Check your owner's manual to ensure you have the correct fluid for your transmission. If the wrong transmission fluid is added, the resulting damage could be severe.

Can I replace the automatic transmission fluid and filter myself?

The average do-it-yourselfer can service most automatic transmissions without too much difficulty. The biggest issues tend to be with pumps for European vehicles and over-tightening the transmission oil pan fasteners. As long as you have the proper tools, and the correct fluid has been selected, the job should be dirty but doable.

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