Transmission Service and Repair

 The importance of servicing your transmission

The automatic transmission is one of the most expensive and complex components in your vehicle. It transfers the power of the engine to the driving wheels. In a typical trip, a transmission has to work hard to adapt to speed, load and road conditions to deliver a smoother driving experience.  

The transmission fluid in your vehicle is an important part of the health of your transmission. This fluid provides hydraulic power and lubrication for the intricate parts in the transmission to operate efficiently. To ensure a long service life and maximum performance, we recommend a regular service schedule for your automatic transmission.

Over the time transmission fluid becomes contaminated, it breaks down through heat and needs to be regularly replaced. Clean transmission fluid is bright red or clear, and has a sweet clean smell. If the fluid looks dark, opaque and smells “burnt,” it will require flushing to remove the extra fluid.

Flushing your transmission

A transmission flush is recommended to remove any contaminated oil that remains trapped in the cooler pipes or the torque convertor.

A standard transmission service replaces 50-70 percent of the transmission’s fluid, the remaining will be held within the torque convertor, valve body and clutch packs. It makes sense to flush the remaining percent to avoid contaminating the fresh fluid … imagine pouring fresh milk into half a litre of soured milk, the end result is fully soured milk. 

Why contaminate sweet transmission fluid with dirty smelling oxidised fluid?

Vehicles with driving complaints such as hesitating when shifting into gear, odd noises, slipping gears or experiencing vibrations (like driving over a cattle grid) can be due to oil contamination. The extra fluid required to complete a flush is a small price to pay in comparison to a transmission overhaul.
Regular servicing of the transmission is generally overlooked since it is not part of the scheduled engine servicing. It is not uncommon to see vehicles with over 100,000km without a transmission service. Commencing a regular transmission service schedule from 50,000km then every 40,000km is the best you can do to keep your car’s transmission running well and in return extend the life span of the automatic transmission.


There is a lot of confusion about servicing the automatic transmission – if and when it should be done?

There is nothing in the owner’s manual / log book to indicate when to begin a regular service schedule of the transmission and the term “filled for life” or “sealed for life” are often used to indicate it is a non-serviceable item.

When the transmission fluid has never been changed, eventually the fluid will become tarnished. It will become black or dark cherry red, and that’s when the fluid viscosity starts breaking down. Once that happens, the friction clutch plates inside the transmission fail to hold their friction, and they start slipping. When that slipping happens, that’s when the transmission fluid really starts to get hot. And at that time there isn’t anything the radiator or cooler can do for it … IT’S ALREADY TOO LATE!

Apart from your engine, the Automatic Transmission is the single most expensive item to repair on your car. Yet it is also the most overlooked and neglected when it comes to servicing!

Automatic transmission overhauls can be very costly, starting at around $2000 for a basic transmission and going up and over $10,000 for more extravagant units. From our decades of experience, we are frequently seeing transmissions fail after the manufacturer’s warranty period ends and require extensive repairs.

Hydraulic control systems often wear out due to lack of servicing (oil and filter changes) and result in slipping clutches and transmission failures. Failure at 115k to 130,000k is not uncommon! It begs the question – is “Filled / Sealed for life” only relating to the timeline of the warranty period? This may not affect vehicle owners that choose to change the vehicle when the warranty period expires but for longer term ownership it makes sense to service the transmission.

There is a way to prevent premature failure and extend the service life of your automatic transmission. There is also an OPTION  to save money in the long term and have a safer, more reliable vehicle in the short term.
The solution is … R E G U L A R  Automatic Transmission Servicing!

Ron Hills solve tricky transmission problems everyday …
it’s our pleasure to help solve yours

Does my transmission get serviced with my regular vehicle servicing?

Generally not. Most vehicle manufacturers now label this component as “Sealed for life”. As for the truth, read our take on this above!

What happens if I don’t service my transmission?

The transmission life will be shortened, the drivability and fuel economy will be adversely affected

How often should I service my transmission?

We recommend that you begin servicing the transmission at 50k and continue with regular transmission servicing every 2 years or 40k . . .  if you are unsure about the fluid give us a call

Prevention is better than cure

We are experts at diagnosing and repairing automatic transmissions – whether it be from lack of regular servicing or overheating when TOWING

But here’s a tip … regular transmission servicing is far cheaper than a repair!