RepairPal is your advocate for car care advice and guidance

Q: Transmission flush vs. traditional trans. service on 2003 Ford Escort

I have an Escort ZX2 with 60k and a transmission flush has been recommended for $270. There are no shifting issues with the car; the recommendation is based on the color of the fluid having gotten worse since the last time I took my car in. I bought the car from a dealer at around 33k miles. Not sure if they did any trans service at that time, but looking back, doubt it.

Not being familiar with these $270 "flushes" (I'm only familiar with the old-fashioned $50 drain and fill specials), I did some checking around and there seems to be a lot of conflicting opinions on whether it's better to get the flush or just go with the traditional service.

The car will be paid off in two more months so on the one hand, I want to do whatever will give the transmission the longest life, and if that's the more expensive flush, so be it. On the other hand, I'd really hate to risk anything that could result in my needing a new transmission right when I should be enjoying no more car payments. And from what I've read, the flush is risky business.

My owner's manual says not to use additives, etc and that's part of the BG flush system so that's another reason why I'm questioning the flush. And you don't even get a new filter with the flush. I'm tempted to save the add'l $200 and just go get the traditional drain, fill, and filter change special offered by another shop. But if it's true that these traditional "drain and fills" only change out about 1/3 of the fluid, maybe the flush is indeed the better path for trans. longevity?
Get a Repair Estimate
Guaranteed by certified locations nationwide. Learn more
RepairPal estimates are guaranteed at over 1,700 quality certified locations nationwide. Learn more
Where have you been getting your car serviced? First off a BG trans service shoud'nt cost you more than $150. The cleaner and conditioner they use in the service is totally safe. If you did what the owners manual told you what you can & can't use you are setting yourself up for repairs that you don't want. I mean use what the manual says as a base. The Bg flush is better than any trans service can offer you. I am not a BG rep. I don't work for BG. BG is a superior product. You need to go to the BG website and check out the lifetime warranty programs. click on find a shop tab and read about this. The old fashion "drain & fill" is exactly what it is. You are not getting all the old fluid out. I'm not even sure you can find it for $50 anymore. If you are not sure that your filter has been changed then have it changed and the fluid exchanged. I've seen the conditioner fix problems that the trans had. I'm a shop owner that has been doing this for about 38 years. BG products are a superior product that does what it says it does. Remmember a drain and fill does not change all the old fluid.
Thanks for the response, AutoKnowHow.

I've been getting it serviced at a local shop called All Tune and Lube. I thought the estimate sounded high, but their other work has been priced right so I'm surprised to find this job was priced so much over the going rate.

Yes, surprisingly, there are still places offering $50 drain and fill jobs (I found a coupon for one as well as a coupon with another shop for $89 which also includes a new trans. filter). Of course, I would expect they probably try to get you to add on other stuff to make back the difference as all shops do. I would just hope there's no additional things you suddenly learn your trans. needs "once they get into it."
This issue of fluid flushes can be quite contentious, but here is my opinion.
Companies like the one mentioned have programs in place at many shops that provide a monetary incentive to sell fluid flushes, sometimes directly to the mechanic, parts person and the service advisor. AutoKnowHow, please let me know if this what you have experienced with BG. I mention this because it creates a bias toward selling these services for profit instead of actual value to the customer.
That said, I believe that transmission flushes are a good idea, however I don't like the idea of using a flush machine, I prefer to add clean fluid to the transmission at the same time the transmission fluid pump pumps out the old fluid. This can be achieved by disconnecting the output hose that goes to the transmission fluid cooler.
Many vehicle manufacturers recommend against the use of any additives to the fluids, and it can even void warranties, and I agree. If the fluid is changed on a regular basis, additives are not needed.
I suggest a replacement of the filter and the fluid, and don't use a flush machine or additive. And that price seems quite high, they must be replacing the filter too.
Thanks for the additional input, Bretb. Yes, the price was a red flag which is mostly what first prompted me to look into it. I may be ignorant, but I'm not *that* ignorant. :-) If they had just put down $100-$150 on the estimate sheet, I know I wouldn't have looked into it as closely. So when I first saw that $270, I asked him if it included a new filter. He then pulled off the shelf the B&G combo pack - cleaner/conditioner - and he mentioned it reconditions the filter. So I specifically asked "So you never have to change the filter if you just keep getting these flushes?" The response was in the affirmative.
Didn't find what you were looking for?