How Long Does a Transmission Last? Practices to Lengthen the Life of Your Transmission

Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” That axiom is especially true when it comes to today’s transmissions. Developing good maintenance habits can mean the difference between a transmission that lasts twice as long as one that isn’t cared for.

Even more, the cost for maintaining your transmission is tiny compared to replacing or rebuilding one. If you're wondering, “How can I make my transmission last longer?” we have good news. The list of practices to lengthen the life of your transmission is, thankfully, a short one.

Check Transmission Fluid Regularly

Transmission fluid is the lifeblood of the gears inside the housing and it is heavily relied upon for proper performance. Changing the fluid as recommended, or if you see that it’s dirty or low, can help avoid the most common problems and should be considered just as important as changing engine oil.

You should put it on your calendar to be checked quarterly. Knowing how to tell the difference between good and bad fluid is an important part of checking the fluid. The fluid can come in a variety of colors, but most often it’s a bright pink-red. The darker the fluid color, the more it is a warning sign that problems could be ahead and it should be changed. If it is brown or worse, black, get it in for an inspection right away. Keep in mind a damaged transmission cannot be cured by changing the transmission fluid. If the condition of the fluid is very dark, you normally should not service or flush the transmission fluid without a repair.

Different manufacturers recommend different mileage for fluid change. Check your owner’s manual to find out what they recommend for your vehicle.

Consider Changing to Synthetic

Most manufacturers are using synthetic transmission fluid because it’s better at resisting heat, cold, oxidation, and shearing of the gears. All of those conditions can shorten the life of your transmission.

If your vehicle doesn’t already have synthetic running in it, it’s worth the investment to switch or consult with your owner’s manual.

Service Your Transmission

In addition to checking fluid levels, we recommend servicing your transmission every 30,000 miles or two years, whichever comes first. Servicing normally includes an inspection, fluid change, and a filter change.

The process includes draining the old fluid, removing the pan and cleaning it, replacing the filter with a new one, and adding new fluid. This is one of the most critical things under the maintenance umbrella. An alternative to this is a transmission flush, which replaced all the fluid in the transmission and torque converter; a service normally replaces roughly 1/3 of the fluid.

Add an External Filter

The number of filters within a transmission depends on the model. Adding an external filter onto the cooler lines can give your transmission a bit of added protection from dirt and particles. This is in addition to the filter(s) already in place inside the transmission.

Cooling System Maintenance

Heat is so damaging to the transmission the car’s radiator is in place to help cool it down. Due to this, it’s important the cooling system be maintained as well. This should be done every two years.

The process includes an inspection, checking for leaks and damage, inspection of hoses and belts, checking the thermostat, performing a radiator cap pressure test, replacing antifreeze, and checking coolant levels.

Let Us Help You

If you would rather not check these components yourself, bring your vehicle in to Advanced Transmission Center and we will be happy to perform our free TrueTest Inspection and schedule any service that needs to be done. Call our Northwest Denver center at (303) 421-4140, our Southwest Denver center at (303) 922-4102 or contact us online to get started today!

Written by Advanced Transmission Center