Transmission Fluid Change Cost (Manual and Automatic)

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.

Like motor oil, checking your transmission fluid at regular intervals is recommended. This will show you the condition of the fluid and signs of low or burnt transmission fluid.

Automatic Transmission Fluid Change Cost

how to add transmission fluid

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

manual transmission gear old drain

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.

Why Changing Transmission Fluid Is Important

As you drive, transmission fluid breaks down like engine oil. The transmission is often a sealed unit, but debris from inside the transmission itself can still be picked up by the transmission fluid. This debris includes metal particles from gears, bits of synchronizers from manual transmissions, silicone sealant from the transmission oil pan, and dirt. 

Transmission fluid quality has a direct impact on the smoothness of shifting. If you start to notice abrupt shifts or gear hunting, ask yourself when was the last time the transmission fluid was changed.

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.

How Much Does Transmission Fluid Cost?

Transmission fluid replacements cost anywhere from $100 to $500, depending on the vehicle and where you take it to be serviced. Dealerships tend to cost more, and quick lube shops are cheapest.

There is a difference between a transmission fluid change and a flush. A transmission fluid flush costs more, and is sometimes actually detrimental to transmissions that haven’t been serviced regularly. If you have questions about which is better for your vehicle, ask your local mechanic before they perform the service.

Factors That Affect the Cost of a Transmission Fluid Change

The amount of fluid your transmission needs will directly affect the cost of the service. Transmission flushes use more fluid and take more time, increasing their cost. Some transmissions are designed to be sealed units and are much harder to service, which may also drive up the cost for that particular vehicle.


2 thoughts on “Transmission Fluid Change Cost (Manual and Automatic)”

  1. $275-$400 for a transmission oil change? Someone needs to redo their research. Maybe $275 on a full-size German car, and even that’s pushing it. Most repair shops have a set $99-$150 charge for a transmission flush — the only variable is if you need more fluid than comes in the flush or need a specialty fluid.

    And if you’re doing a pan drop, that cost comes down significantly, as you’re only replacing 1/2 to 3/4 of the transmission fluid (the most expensive part of a transmission fluid change). The filter and gasket kits are generally $10-$20 at the most. And labor is almost always well under an hour.


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