Should You Change Your Car’s Transmission Fluid? Myth Busted

Should You Change Your Car’s Transmission Fluid? Myth Busted

one, two, three, four! Rev up your engines! It’s time for the Scotty Kilmer Channel today I’m going to talk about the myth of
lifetime automatic transmission fluid, I’m always being to asked by people, Scotty it says that the transmission fluid in my car is lifetime, I never need to change
it, what do you think about that, well basically I think that it’s just a dirty
little lie, because they’re using the word lifetime in a different manner than
most people actually will, I even asked an auto engineer one time, what do you mean
by lifetime automatic fluid, and they said, well the fluid should last the
lifetime of the transmission, and then he said, oh you never have to change the
fluid, because it lasts as long as the transmission lasts, but I said hey, how
long is the transmission going to last, because if you look up powertrain
warranties, hey there’s six years 70,000 miles, four years 50,000 miles,
four year 50,000 miles, some of them go five years 100,000 miles,
but they do stop, so if the transmission breaks down after the warranty, because
the fluids dirty and it’s broken things down inside, guess what, you’re the one
that’s going to pay thousands and thousands of dollars for another
transmission or a full rebuild, there’s lots of parts inside a modern automatic
transmission, and they all have to be pressure lubricated with clean fluid, and
the gears inside have very close tolerances, even wear of a few
thousandths of an inch from dirty fluid can make them work poorly, and to add
insult to injury, unlike my old Toyota here, which has a dipstick for the
automatic transmissions, many cars don’t have one, you can’t even check the fluids
yourself anymore, jacking a car up and just taking out a drain plug and
changing the fluid like it used to be, some modern cars it takes all kinds of
equipment and skills just to change the fluid, because they made these bizarre
little things you have to do to change it, and if you try changing the fluid
yourself, look what you have to do on this two-year old Chrysler, you got to do
all kinds of stuff, you got to have a scan tool, you got to do all these different
tests, put the brake on, put it in reverse for five seconds, place it and drive hold
it for five seconds, release the brakes, and accelerate to second gear, it’s absolutely insane what they expect you to do to change this fluid, so
of course most people are never going to attempt it themselves, and they’ll
believe, oh it’s a lifetime fluid, we’ll just leave it in and not worry about it,
but that’s a big mistake, because yes the metallurgy and the transmissions and the
modern synthetic fluids, are much better than they used to be, but look at this, I
took this out of a transmission that at 60,000 miles of lifetime fluid in it,
it’s supposed to be red and you can see it’s pretty much turned black, now 90% of
transmission failures occur because of heat, and the fluid has a lot to do with
that, dirty fluid will cause carbon buildup, the seals in the clutches will
start to burn out, the plates will slip, varnish forms, and you don’t want all
that happen inside a clean automatic transmission, and dirty fluid causes
wear, the seals can get dirt on them from that, and then they’ll start leaking,
you don’t want to have dirty transmission fluid period, now sure
you don’t have to change it every 30,000 miles like we used to in the old automatics,
but still, I would advise changing at least every sixty to eighty thousand
miles, if you want to keep your car a long time, so if you ask any honest
mechanic about this lifetime fluid, they’ll tell you the truth, that it’s a lot
of baloney if you want to keep your car a long time, and my automatic transmission
specialist in Baytown Texas, he says the same thing, and you’d think, hey if it did
wear them out, he’d make more money selling transmissions to people, but he’s
honest, and he says you got to change this fluid if you want the transmissions to
last a long time, so now you know the truth about lifetime automatic
transmission fluids, that you really should change it, unless you like the
idea of short lifetimes, and remember if you’ve got any car
questions just visit the Scotty Kilmer channel, so if you never want to miss
another one of my new car repair videos, remember to ring that Bell!

About the Author: Michael Flood


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  2. I wish you were my uncle, i could hang with every weekends at the garage. I would literally learn many things about automotive… i salute you sir

  3. I have a 2012 Honda Civic with 89k miles, I know the Honda dealer did a service on my transmission by only replacing what came out of it when it had like 50k, last time we went to get the engine oil changed, the service guy was alerting us to do the trans oil asap… how often should I do this? Is it every 60-80k miles??? What about changing the whole entire trans oil, can I have them do that without risking of transmission slipping???

  4. I want to ask something, Change or Flush? How much miles to change? and how much miles to flush the transmission oil? Thx

  5. I have a very good mechanic and he's specialized in automatic transmissions… He does a complete oil change without any problems even if the oil in the transmission is old… He says it's not the new oil that's the problem but it's putting the right kind of oil in your transmission… The same models of cars can have different transmissions which require different oils… There's a code number on the transmission and that's the only way you can find out which oil you need… Not chassis number or registration book or license plate number… Wrong oil will cause problems… If you want to take advice from a mechanic who has a tiny garage that looks like a junk yard and he has to work outside because he can't even put the car in and has to crank up cars with a jack because he hasn't got a car lift… Well…that's up to you… Watch out for DO IT YOURSELF because with modern cars it's Impossible… Specialized mechanics are expensive but that's the only way to go… You have to find a good honest mechanic [I know it's almost impossible] They can checkout any other problems in the transmission… It doesn't mean you have to trust them… Buy yourself a scan tool… Get more than one price quotation… Do a little research even though internet is full of nonsense… Open your eyes… Some transmission oils are green…

  6. Scotty, I have a question on changing my transmission fluid. I'd like to change the drainable pan fluid three (3) times to ensure I get most of the old stuff out. After the first initial change how many miles before I can change it for the second and third time's? In other words, once it's changed, how many miles does it take to thoroughly mix the new with the old so you can change it again? Hope I explained that correctly!
    Thank You!

  7. I’ve probably watched 50-80 hours of your videos Scotty. I really appreciate it, you’ve literally saved me over $2000 in repairs and more including preventative maintenance stuff. You are awesome!

  8. Hello Scotty: Could you do a video on changing the transmission fluid on a 2016 Toyota Corolla or 2017 Toyota Tacoma. They have lifetime transmission fluid without a dip stick.

  9. Hey scotty does tranny fluid deteriorate over time. got a 10 year old dodge charger hemi 5.7 with 35,000 miles. What do I do??

  10. Thank you for this video Scotty. I have a Dodge Grand Caravan 2007 with 145k km on it. I purchased it with 66k km 5 years ago. I do not know if the transmission fluid was ever changed. Do I need to change it ? It looks pretty clean on the dipstick.

  11. I have a 2016 Toyota Tundra with 18,000 miles. Dealership said I have a sealed transmission. How do I change the transmission fluid?

  12. How do you change it if you can't even check it? Were's the filler? Drain? Do trannie shops even do this? Seems pretty clear it's too difficult for the weekend guy.
    *2013 Corolla with lifetime fluid. About 150,000 km or 120,000 miles for U.S. folk.
    Hard shift at high speeds when accelerating. One vid said it could be the transmission solenoid. However that much costs? Still, wouldn't mind changing the fluid.
    Hope Scotty or someone knowledgeable reads this on this older vid.

  13. These manufacturers should be forced to include "lifetime of the warranty" disclaimers so people aren't fooled into thinking they never need to change the fluid and wind up spending thousands for rebuilds smh…scandalous

  14. Hey Scotty, I got a 2008 chevy colorado from a city utility auction and it has 111,000 miles on it. I do not know if the tranny fluid was ever changed. I do not notice any slippage. should I flush or change the fluid? the current fluid does not look dirty

  15. Scotty I bought a 2012 chevrolet sonic with 99,000 miles on it that does not have a dipstick on it. Would you recommend changing it immediately… I do have some slight skippage which has me very worried about causing damage

  16. It's just plain evil what the manufacturers have done sealing the transmission so Joe average cannot maintenance it.

  17. My Honda Civic 2009 100.000 miles on l don’t change transmission oil and coils and spark plugs what you think l have to change ( run good)

  18. Will it hurt to change transmission fluid in a high mileage vehicle if you don’t know when it was changed last? I’ve heard it can do more harm then good?

  19. It depends on the vehicle whether to change the fluid in my view. I have a 2012 Ford E350 van, 5.4L flex fuel. It has 460,000 miles, 99% hwy miles, automatic trans. Never changed the fluid, the color was still pink, but not bright pink. I figured I would have the fluid changed. After only 3 weeks and 5000 miles later, the trans failed. No 3rd gear and thus no over drive. Before I had it changed, it ran perfectly, no shifting issues whatsoever. The fail was sudden, and had to drive back home in 2nd gear over 100 miles. Ford just so happen to build a quality transmission, and I think this trans isn't the norm, but thus was my experience. I talked to 2 other owners, in the same business I'm in, same vehicle. The trans lasted 800,000, and 900,000 before failing. I don't know if they changed the fluid or not.

  20. LIfetime fluid is just a way to make you think they don't need any maintenance. It is an outright lie for anyone keeping the car past 30,000 to 60,000 miles. We should all get together and sue them for false advertising!!


  22. How about installing a transmission oil cooler to keep the fluid cool and prevent deterioration when driven in stop and go traffic as well as hill climbs and off road use. I have a Hayden 679 on my FJ Cruiser, in traffic and hills my temps never shoot over 220 with the cooler as it used to earlier. I still do a drain and fill for transmission fluid every 30,000.

  23. My book says I should change at 45,000 but I have 120,000.
    Do you think it’s safe to have it done now? I know if it’s really bad I hear it can cause slipping. It’s a 2013 Malibu. Please let me know.

  24. This dude is so hilarious lol you can tell hes old and still always excited to be on camera I doubt he will ever get tired of it and the fame! Great videos though scotty keep it up

  25. but taking the car to the shop for servicing it's a pain the rear end, just leave the fluid in there till it's time for new transmission. Kill two birds with one stone, new transmission, and new fluid at the same time, LIfe it's too precious who has time to take the car into the shop for every little service. Alexandria Occasional Cotex says money grows on trees so if you believe her just plant a few trees and watch your money grow.

  26. Hey great vids just bought a 2009 Tiguan with 72500 miles obviously no atf change am I too late to replace this a sealed 🤦‍♂️🕳trans. What is your opinion on it thanks Man keep making em..

  27. All automatics should be designed like the Alison 1000 on the duramax models, replace the spin on filter and top off, do this every oil change and all transmissions would last so much longer. You would be turning the fluid over and have a better filter media than most stock applications.

  28. I started having problems with my transmission at turns , accelerating after coming to a stop I made the mistake of adding a quart of mercon v transmission fluid and my transmission was fine for the rest of the day , the next morning it reversed fine when I put it in drive it wouldn’t go into second gear and the transmission gave up wouldn’t go above 15 miles per hour

    Car is fixed had transmission rebuilt
    I would like to know why the transmission gave up

  29. Hey Scotty I got a 2001 Dodge Ram 1500 V8 5.9 with 110k miles transmission fluid never changed. I wanted to know if i should change it or leave it but the transmission works fine and when i pull the stick out its as red as it should be.

  30. hello man , i have a question , my mechanic did a change of the transmission and gearbox oil using a none well known brand but a brand that has the same specification of my car , without asking me first ; my question is : could i re-do the transmission and gearbox oil with a better oil brand (valvoline) without any risk on the gearbox or the transmission????? thanks

  31. Hey Scotty really hope you or someone will answer this. We have a 07 Chevy trailblazer, shifts and drives great but it’s got 103k miles on it and we have never changed the fluid. Last time I checked the fluid wasn’t black it was like a really dark pink. Should we change it or leave it? Thanks!

  32. My BMW mechanic (not the dealer) recommended that I change my tranny fluid, but he also wants to change the pan. That jacks up the price over 100%. Is it necessary to replace the pan since it's off anyway? Please advise Sir Scotty. Thanks in advance 🤙🏻

  33. why are the japanese smarter? What is BMW and mercedes thinking?? german thinking or what is going on? The germans used to lead not be behind!

    thanks Scotty!

  34. Guys how about the fluid in a manual transmision? Whould you change it in a Toyota Auris (Corolla) 2007, 1.4 diesel, manual transmision with almost 200k? Car shifts and works great. Great video Scotty!!

  35. Hey Scotty my transmission fluid is as clear as water, so I'm not for sure what to think of such but maybe you or someone can help me out? It's a Infinity qx60 with the cvt, thanks

  36. Hi Scotty & Community,
    I need advice for my 2nd hand, 2013 VW Passat.
    I recently hit the 60K miles. Should I change the transmission fluid along with the regular maintenance or is it already too late and I will run into issues?
    I bought the car at 54K. It certainly never had a change done before.

    Thanks for your advice in advance!

  37. Biggest BS around and if driving under severe conditions like towing, stop and go and in heat frequent change needed as well as an addition of Magnefine filter and most important to prevent heat, a transmission cooler.

  38. Had a 2012 civic si. Did the 80k mile manual trans fluid. It looked just as clear as the new stuff i put in.

  39. if the fluid is still clean, (red-clear), is it still good? I have a '95 honda Odyssey with 176k and the fluid is still clean, does the fluid break down?
    I dont want to change it if I dont need to.

  40. Toyota is one of those… "life long sealed" transmission fluid makers… I'm looking at you 5speed automatic.

  41. Hey I really need advice here I have a 2001 Ford ranger with 176,000 miles on it and I have no idea if the transmission fluid has ever been replaced. Should I change the fluid to extend the lifespan of the transmission? Or should I just leave it be? I've heard many story's of transmissions failing after changing the fluid.

  42. The fluid does not last as long as the transmission, but the transmission lasts as long as the fluid if you never change it

  43. What about the many story's of transmissions going out after a filter change and service with over 100 k on them,i had a 74 comet that that happened to after a service.

  44. Hey Scotty, is it good to drain the transmission and change about 4-5 quarts every 60,000 miles? I have a 04 maxima and I wanna know is it good to do the 4-5 quarts myself or pay someone to do a flush every 60,000 miles

  45. Good advice changed fluid on my Volvo that was supposed to be life time , it was like brown soup! Put 20 Ltrs through until it was cherry, now feels and changes a lot better….😉

  46. Scotty when you say to change it every 60,000 to 80,000 miles are you saying a single drain and refill is sufficient? Or maybe three or four consecutive drain and refills since each drain and refill only removes a small part of the dirty fluid?

  47. Nissan doesn’t even call theirs life time. They say every 60k but I’m nervous to go that far with it! Lol so I would do 40k max? Idk

  48. Hi Scotty.
    My husband drives a 2007 Saturn ion.

    With 1071 thousand on it. Should he change the Transmission?

  49. I have a 2017 Elantra, I just had the dealership change my automatic transmission fluid last week at 50.000 miles. Its working perfectly and I want it to last a long time. 287.00 bucks, No biggie. Going to have it done again at 90 thou. Owners manual say under severe service to change every 60.000. Normal service, not necessary. I also run 10. 30 wt oil. Not the watery 5 20 stuff. Change it every 3000 miles, Castrol GTX . Owners manual says it allowed, and my engine is very quiet, and not noisy like it was on the watery stuff. Bought the car new. It's been flawless.

  50. I need some advice on a used car. Someone is offering me a 2007 Mazda3 and he said that it only had it's transmission fluid changed at 50k miles; it currently has 123k miles. The car drove pretty well in a test drive, so if I were to take the car and do a transmission fluid change right away, would that be a safe fluid change interval, such that the car's life span would not be compromised?

  51. I tried to get subaru to change my CVT fluid and the dealer wouldnt do it at all…. I don't understand why they sell CVTF fluid for my car in the parts department if it's never supposed to be replaced and then if I ask for them to do it they simply refuse saying "it's not recommended to ever change the fluid"…..

  52. Scotty, I have not changed my transmission fluid since I purchased the car. It now has 118,000 miles on it. Should I do a ATF drain & fill or just leave it alone, since it's been long over due already. I want to do the drain & fill. But I am afraid it my cause my transmission to fail. What are your thoughts please it my current situation. 2013 Kia Sorento LX.

  53. Aren’t ALL fluids technically lifetime fluids? Because if the transmission fails due to dirty fluid, that’s the end of its life. And so, the fluid lasted for its entire lifetime.

  54. Scotty,

    I just bought a 2008 Honda CRV with 65K miles. It was a single owner car, garage kept, and only driven 6 miles a day by an older couple.

    The transmission fluid has not been changed, although everything else has been extremely well-maintained.

    Should I change it since it’s between 60-80K miles, even though it’s 12 years old?

  55. I just bought a used car with 126 k on it and it says it had transmission servicing at 107k how many more km till it needs to be replaced?

  56. Changed some of the fluid in my 300,000mi toyota t100, as it was black, then guess what I learned….. How to rebuild an automatic transmission!. Now we are at 312,000 aiming for 400,000 or beyond.

  57. just changed "lifetime" diff and gear oil on BMW Z4 35i… BMW dos not advise changing as they dont want car to last too long so you buy another one. did my chnage on 53.000miles…lets see

  58. I've had my car 10 years, it it's got just over 50k miles. I decided to get the fluid changed even though I'm not having any issues with the transmission. That just seemed like a long time to go with no change. The manual says to check it at each oil change but to change it at 150k miles.

  59. I drive lexus IS200 from 1999. It has hydrokinetic four speed unsealed transmission at the bottom of the pan is a drain plug and it have a dipstick😊 on one drain I can only get 3l of fluid out from 9l of total amount this transmission have. Every oil change I drain some fluid and I put same amount of fresh fluid through the dipstick. Car is 20year old I am 38😉 hope will last a lifetime 🤔😇

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