(Updated on August 25, 2022)
The transmission fluid of a vehicle is responsible for lubricating and cooling the internal components of the transmission. As you likely know, the transmission is responsible for transmitting the engine’s power to your vehicle’s wheels.
If you have an automatic transmission, then your vehicle will change gears automatically based on how fast you’re driving and other conditions. There is an oil pan inside the transmission which holds the filter and transmission fluid. This fluid is what allows the transmission to change gears.
If your vehicle has a manual transmission, then it does not change gears automatically because it is not a hydraulic system. A manual transmission is actually a mechanical system that requires the driver to manually shift gears at the appropriate speeds.
But a manual transmission needs transmission fluid also since the mechanical components still need to be lubricated. If they are not, then the friction created by metal-on-metal parts will create a lot of noise and those parts will get worn out much quicker.
Automatic Transmission Fluid Change Cost
The cost to change the fluid of an automatic transmission will typically be more than a manual transmission. The reason being is that the fluid replacement job may also require you to replace the transmission filter and the oil pan gasket as well.
You can expect to pay anywhere from $275 to $450 for this type of service. The parts cost will be anywhere from $175 to $250, while the labor costs will be anywhere from $100 to $200. There will be added fees and taxes on top of these charges as well.
Here is a summary of these three features:
- Oil Pan Gasket – As you know, the transmission has an oil pan which houses the fluid and filter. The oil pan gasket is what seals and secures the pan in place at the bottom of the transmission. You won’t necessarily need to change the gasket if you’re changing the fluid and filter, but if it is worn out then you might have to. The mechanic will make that determination.
- Transmission Fluid – The automatic transmission fluid is obviously the main thing that you’ll need to change. It is also the cheapest feature to replace in comparison to actual physical parts like a filter or gasket.
- Filter – With all the debris that the transmission filter catches, it will likely need to be replaced at the same time you replace the transmission fluid. Otherwise, the buildup of debris will impair its ability to filter any new automatic transmission fluid you add.
Manual Transmission Fluid Change Cost
The cost to change the fluid of a manual transmission should only be around $100. Because there is no filter in a manual transmission vehicle, you don’t need to worry about purchasing a replacement filter or gasket when you replace the transmission fluid. This keeps the parts cost at around $30 to $70, while the labor costs are around $60 to $100.
However, you’ll likely need to perform these manual transmission fluid changes more frequently because there is no filter. After all, the job of a filter is to prevent tiny metal particles and other debris from getting into the fluid.
The owner’s manual of your vehicle should let you know how often is necessary.
When to Change Transmission Fluid
The transmission fluid change interval varies depending on the transmission type and the vehicle. The filter of an automatic transmission usually allows drivers to travel around 100,000 miles before having to replace the transmission fluid (and filter).
Since manual transmissions don’t have this filter, their fluid needs to be replaced every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. Again, check with the manufacturer to determine the exact mileage for your particular vehicle.