Changing the transmission fluid in your car is an often overlooked but very important maintenance task. You should check your owner’s manual to see how often the manufacturer recommends you change it. You can also check out this article for recommendations.
While it’s common for people to tackle changing their engine oil, many people are intimidated by changing transmission fluid. Luckily there are plenty of shops willing to do that work for you if you’re not up for it. Of course, no matter which way you go you’re going to have to pony up some dough.
How much you ask? Well there are a few factors to consider. Let’s take a deeper look.
Paying for a Transmission Fluid Change
We’ll first consider the cost to change transmission fluid if you bring your vehicle to a service shop. There are a number of different places where you could bring your car to have this task completed.
Here are the most common –Dealership, Private Mechanic, Lube Garage or Chain shop (such as Jiffy Lube). Consider those to be generally arranged by transmission oil change price. Dealerships are going to be the most expensive choice most of the time. A private mechanic will usually give you a slightly better price, they want your business and it’s a pretty simple job. Lube places however work on volume and will have the best price. They make more money by offering low prices and specializing in this type of work. Sometimes you can even find a coupon to bring the cost down further so check your local newspaper.
Paying for an Automatic Transmission Fluid Change
There are so many variables that can affect the cost of a transmission oil change. For example if you are driving a 1 ton truck with a heavy duty transmission that takes special fluid, you could pay $200 or more for a fluid change. I’m going to go ahead and assume that most of you have the average car with a fairly common automatic transmission. In most cases you can expect to pay between $60 and $100 dollars. I would also recommend having the filter changed at the same time. It might cost a little bit extra but it’s well worth it. In my opinion there’s no sense in changing the fluid if you aren’t going to change the filter. Another up charge would be if you decided to use synthetic transmission fluid, which I would also recommend if you can afford it. You’ll get slightly better fuel mileage and it will protect your transmission better.
Paying for a Manual Transmission Fluid Change
Changing the fluid on a manual transmission is usually cheaper than the same service on an automatic transmission. Why you ask? For one thing, a manual transmission does not have a filter. The process is pretty simple for a manual transmission fluid change. The shop will simply drain the old fluid, and refill with new fluid. It’s been a few years since I had this done but I paid about $60 for this service at a Pennzoil lube shop. You might pay more if your transmission requires any special fluid or if you opt for synthetic.
Do-It-Yourself Transmission Fluid Change Cost
If you are reasonably mechanically inclined you certainly could change the fluid in your transmission yourself. There are some good reasons to do the work yourself, not the least of which is saving money. I’d say at least half the cost of a transmission fluid change is in the labor when you go to a garage, so you can save yourself a decent amount of money by doing the service yourself. However, there are times when you would want it done professionally. Obviously if you’re not confident in your abilities you’re better off paying somebody else. Also, if your car is still under warranty it might be a good idea to have a shop do this service for you, the last thing you want to do is void your warranty.
DIY Automatic Transmission Fluid Change
The only out of pocket expense for doing this yourself is going to be for the fluid and a couple of parts. Check your manual or ask the person at the parts counter how much fluid you will need. You’re also going to need the correct transmission filter and gasket. After that, pretty much all costs will be in the form of elbow grease and sweat. Have a good drain pan and some rags on hand, removing the transmission oil pan can be a messy job. On average you can expect to spend anywhere from $40–$75 dollars for the fluid, gasket, and filter. It’s worth it to spend a little extra money and get a high quality transmission fluid like Royal Purple or Red Line.
DIY Manual Transmission Fluid Change
This is probably the cheapest you can get out of a transmission fluid change. I did this on my 1995 Jeep Wrangler for about $15. I should note that my jeep uses very inexpensive oil so this is not typical, but you should still be able to do a fluid change on your manual transmission for under $30 unless you require a special fluid or opt for synthetic. Be sure to check your manual to make sure you get the proper type and amount of transmission fluid. Again you’re going to want a drain pan for this. I also suggest investing in some sort of a fluid exchange tool, I use a type of siphon pump that works pretty good but there are a number of products on the market that work well for this type of thing. It doesn’t matter if you decide to pay somebody to change your transmission fluid or if you do it yourself, as long as it gets done. This is an often overlooked maintenance item that can lead to transmission problems or even failure. The transmission oil breaks down over time and is less efficient at lubricating and keeping parts cool, which in turn puts more wear on your transmission. So please check your manual for proper fluid change intervals and keep your car happy and healthy!
Hopefully I was able to give you an idea of transmission oil change cost so you can plan accordingly. Remember to check your transmission fluid level from time to time as well to make sure the transmission always has the proper amount of fluid.