Transmission Fluid Flush VS Change | What You Will Need?

Transmission oil is crucial for keeping the transmission system working effectively. This oil lubricates all the delicate parts of the transmission.

Moreover, it transfers power from the oil pump to the clutches. That’s not all, this heat-resistant oil acts as a coolant and keeps the temperature inside in control.

If it is not monitored regularly, it can lose lubricating and cooling effects. As a result, the transmission can overheat and end up facing complete system failure.

Transmission Fluid Flush VS Change

Fluid flush and fluid change are two ways of servicing the transmission oil. But transmission fluid flush vs change: which one is the best process? In this article, I’ve discussed the difference between both services and which one is suitable for what situations.

So, read on to know which one is suitable for your vehicle.

What Is A Transmission Flush?

Transmission flush includes flushing out all of the old oil and replacing it with new liquid. This is done using a pump inlet or cooler line flush machine.

Flush machines come with hoses that are connected to the cooler lines of the transmission system. These hoses drain out the contaminated oil and store it inside the machine. At the same time, the cooler lines are filled with fresh fluid.

What Is A Transmission Fluid Change?

Transmission fluid is stored inside the torque converter and pan. During fluid change, the pan is drained. Then, the pan is filled with new fluid and the filter is replaced.

Some vehicles come with a drain plug in the transmission system. You can use this plug to easily drain one-third to half of the fluid.

For vehicles that don’t have this drain plug, you’ll need to have a catch pan ready. Because when you remove the pan, the oil can overflow and create a mess.

Fluid change does not remove all the old fluid from the system. So, some contaminants remain in the system. But as it removes a considerable amount of buildup, it’s an effective service.

transmission fluid change vs flush

Transmission Fluid Flush VS Change

The main difference between transmission fluid flush and change is that, transmission fluid flush means the fluids are removed completely from the transmission including the torque converter, and cooler lines and then the pan is replaced. And transmission fluid change is when dirty fluid is drained from the pan but some contaminants remain in the system.

However, changing transmission fluid is effective for most vehicles. Keep reading to know more details about flush and change.

1. Suitability

Both fluid flush and change are effective maintenance services. But you should only use the service that’s suitable for your vehicle.

1.1. Transmission Fluid Flush

Transmission fluid exchange vs flush? Wondering which one is suitable for your vehicle? Well, this depends on the performance and mileage of your car.

If your mileage is around 60 to 70 thousand miles, then you should consider getting a fluid flush. This is more essential if you’ve never had a flush before. Complete flushing of the transmission oil will enhance the vehicle’s performance.

1.2. Transmission Fluid Change

You need to keep monitoring the fluid. When the red liquid turns brown or dark red, you’ll know it’s time for a change. If your vehicle is still new, and you don’t have any performance issues, going for a transmission liquid change is alright.

Also, if you don’t want to risk flushing the contaminated fluid through the transmission system, fluid change is a good alternative.

2. Benefits

Some people consider transmission flush to be more beneficial than changing the fluid. However, which one will be best for you depends on your vehicle’s condition.

2.1. Transmission Fluid Flush

Is it good to flush your transmission? Yes, fluid flush has tons of benefits. First of all, flushing removes 100% of the old fluid. As a result, all the build-up and contamination get removed too.

The transmission is filled with new liquid. New liquid can keep the system cooler and provide more protection against wear. Moreover, the gears will shift properly.

That’s not all, additives can be inserted with new liquid. These additives help trap contaminants and keep the fluid fresh for longer. So, the transmission system provides peak performance.

2.2. Transmission Fluid Change

Fluid change involves draining oil from the pan and changing the filter. This service removes about 50% of the old fluid. Then, a new liquid is added to the old one.

So, the performance of the transmission gets improved. Because 50% new liquid increases the lubricating and heat resistant feature of the overall fluid. Adding detergents or additives with the new liquid can help mend leaks too.

As this is a relatively easier process, you can even get it done yourself. However, check your owner’s manual to identify which fluid to use when you’re refilling the transmission pan.

3. Cost

While fluid flush is a professional service, fluid change can be done at home. Hence, there is a wide difference between their costs too.

3.1. Transmission Fluid Flush

This process completely empties the old fluid along with all of the buildup. Professional help is required for performing this service. So, it costs almost double the price of a fluid change.

On average, for smaller vehicles, you’ll have to spend 150 dollars for a fluid flush. And for larger vehicles, you’ll need at least 200 to 250 dollars. This includes labor costs and new oil costs.

3.2. Transmission Fluid Change

In case of fluid change, you don’t have to pay the labor cost as this is a fairly simple operation that you can perform at home. This process doesn’t require any flushing machine either. Moreover, you need only 3 to 6 quarts of oil for a fluid change.

So, oil change is much more cost-efficient than oil flush. You’ll have to spend around 80 to 100 dollars for a fluid change.

4. Replacement Time

As flushing is a complicated process and it removes buildup completely, this service is done at a longer interval than fluid change. But oil change can be done at regular intervals as it’s relatively simple to do.

4.1. Transmission Fluid Flush

Fluid flush is a service you don’t perform often. Mechanics recommend getting your transmission system flushed after 60,000 miles or three years of driving. But this time depends on how often and where you drive.

4.2. Transmission Fluid Change

Fluid change is relatively easy to perform. And it’s recommended to get your oil changed after 30,000 miles of driving. If you don’t drive frequently, you should still get it changed every two years.

This timeframe can change if you use the vehicle for towing heavy objects or frequently go for off-roading. In such cases, you’ll need to change the liquid sooner.

5. Drawbacks

While discussing transmission fluid change vs flush differences, you need to consider their downsides too.

5.1. Transmission Fluid Flush

The main downside of fluid flush is the expense. Not all car owners can afford to get an oil flush done.

Another issue with this process is getting contaminants stuck in other important engine parts. If the oil is really old and full of buildup, flushing it through the transmission can end up doing more harm than good.

During the flushing process, contaminants can flow in opposite directions and settle in other engine parts. This will result in more engine complications.

5.2. Transmission Fluid Change

This process cannot remove all the old liquid. So, buildup and contaminants are not removed either.

The primary drawback of this process is that the newly added oil can end up getting polluted by the old oil. As a result, the transmission performance will not improve but it’ll keep getting worse.


How Often Should You Flush Your Transmission?

You should flush your transmission after three years or sixty thousand miles of driving.

How Much Does A Transmission Flush Cost?

A transmission flush can cost between 150 to 250 dollars depending on the type of vehicle you drive.

Is A Transmission Flush Necessary?

Yes, When your transmission system becomes extremely contaminated, old oil can pollute the newly added oil. In such a situation, the fluid flush cannot solve the issue. So, the flushing becomes necessary.

How Much Transmission Fluid Do I Need For A Flush?

For completely flushing your transmission system you’ll require around 12 to 22 quarts of fluid.

What Will Happen If I Use the Wrong Transmission Fluid?

Using the wrong fluid will result in poor lubrication. This will overheat the components and damage the entire transmission system.

Wrapping Up

Servicing your transmission fluid is necessary for keeping the vehicle in perfect condition. Regular monitoring of this liquid will help you achieve optimum performance from the transmission.

So which one has the edge in the transmission fluid flush vs change debate? Well, both services are extremely important for protecting the engine. While fluid change is cheaper and easier, transmission flush will give your vehicle a complete reset.

First, go through your owner’s manual to find out if there is a manufacturer’s recommendation regarding this service. If there is, definitely do the recommended service. If not, choose one that’s suitable for your needs and budget.

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