There are some parts of your vehicle that you probably never think about until the day they fail. Your car's transmission is likely one of those components. When your transmission starts to slip or shift roughly, you suddenly care very much about that transmission.

Before you get to that point, make sure your transmission undergoes routine inspections and maintenance. A transmission-fluid flush is one way to clean debris and overheated transmission lubricant from your vehicle, yet there are two more things you should know about your transmission fluid.

Mechanics and Manufacturers Disagree on Fluid Change Intervals

Some manufacturers recommend having your transmission fluid changed at 100,000 miles unless there's a gear-shifting problem. Some mechanics disagree and insist that the fluid should be changed as often as every 30,000 miles if the car is driven hard.

All auto experts agree that you should check your transmission fluid routinely. Transmission fluids should be red and see-through, so change fluid out if yours looks or smells burnt, no matter how many miles you’ve driven since the fluid was changed last. If you see any debris or solids in the transmission fluid, this is an indication of trouble.

Only you and your mechanic really know the state of your transmission, so you must often make the call as to when to flush your system. Extreme temperatures can break down transmission fluid faster, so check your levels often when doing extended summertime driving.

You Need to Be Sure Your Car Is Filled With the Right Stuff

There are several kinds of transmission fluids available, and they're often not interchangeable. You can't just go out and buy generic transmission fluid and hope it works. That's a good way to permanently damage your transmission.

Instead, consult your owner's manual to be certain your mechanic uses the right stuff. Your vehicle's manufacturer created your vehicle's transmission using a specific type of lubricant. Some transmission fluids include additives that keep the transmission from slipping. Other transmission fluids are designed to work best with certain types of materials or clutch designs.

The following list is an overview of vehicles and their corresponding transmission fluids. 
CVT fluid—used in continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) found in many modern cars; never use standard automatic transmission fluid (ATF) in a CVT

Dexron ATF—also available in modern formulas; used in General Motors vehicles manufactured after 1968, including Chevy, Buick, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Saturn, and Cadillac transmissions

Type F ATF—only for use in Fords made prior to 1977; do not use in later-model cars

Mercon ATF—also available in modern formulas; used for Ford, Mercury, Lincoln and some Madza transmissions made after 1977

ATF+3 or ATF+4—a Chrysler-product transmission fluid; the ATF+4 is a synthetic lubricant that must be used in cars that call for it at peril of risk of damage to the vehicle; many owners of GM and Ford vehicles switch to synthetic ATF+4 as well.

Z-1—older ATF designed for Acura and Honda transmissions; you can use DW-1 in place of Z-1 in most cases.

DW-1—the synthetic modern version of Z-1 for Hondas and Acuras; do not use Z-1 in place of DW-1 in a late-model transmission

Import ATFs—many import vehicles must use vehicle-specific ATF; owners who use the wrong fluid risk voiding their transmission warranties; ATF guidelines recommended by Toyota, Subaru, Lexus, Mitsubishi and other vehicle manufacturers keep you on the safe side

This list is purely an overview and should not be used or construed as expert advice on your vehicle's transmission-fluid needs. Consult your vehicle manufacturer or qualified transmission shop to find out the exact type of fluid you should use in your ride.

Transmission King is your go-to shop when it comes to transmission issues in the Mobile area. We offer financing and towing with service to qualified customers. Contact us today to learn more about transmission-fluid services and our free performance check for your transmission.