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Like a turtle and a tortoise or a malted and a milkshake, a transmission flush and a fluid exchange are similar but different. Let’s look at these two services, how they help keep your car running smooth, and how much you can expect to pay for each.
|Transmission Flush||Transmission Fluid Exchange|
|Requires a professional-grade flush machine to flush away the ATF (automatic transmission fluid)||Uses natural gravitational forces to drain the ATF|
|Completely removes all the ATF from the transmission||Drains ATF from the pan|
|Flushes away grime and contaminants from the torque converter and cooler lines||Does not remove contaminants|
|Runs a special solution through the cooler lines until completely clean, and refills the system with new ATF||Only drains 20% to 40% of the total ATF volume|
|A trained professional should perform this service||Drivers may choose to handle this themselves|
|Transmission flush cost: Typically, $125 to $250||Transmission fluid change cost: Typically, between $80 and $250; the cost varies depending on where the service is performed, what fluid is used, and other factors|
ATF lubricates, cools, and cleans the internal transmission parts. As it ages, ATF becomes thin and dirty, losing its ability to remove heat from inside the transmission. If the fluid isn’t changed, high operating temperatures and contaminants will accelerate transmission wear. Periodically changing ATF will help extend transmission life and may help maintain your vehicle’s warranty.
There are many different types and grades of ATF. One that is often recommended — especially for older cars — is synthetic. Full synthetic transmission fluid is more expensive, but it also lasts longer, lubricates better, and is more effective in combatting heat and friction. However, full synthetic may degrade certain transmission components. So, make sure the right type of transmission fluid is used after your flush or fluid exchange. Consult your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendation. If you can’t find your manual, or if more than one ATF is recommended, ask a trained Jiffy Lube® technician for assistance. Jiffy Lube locations use quality Pennzoil® products (where available) that meet or exceed OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) specifications.
That’s the overview. Now let’s take a deeper dive.
First, a test drive is performed. This helps the technician recognize and diagnose any problems that should be addressed during servicing. Then the transmission is inspected for any external signs of problems or leaks.
Cooler flush method: The lines between the transmission and the cooler will be disconnected and attached to the flush machine. This allows the ATF to be transferred to and from the flush machine. The transfer process uses the pressure produced by the transmission pump to circulate the ATF. This way, no damage is done to the internal parts of the system.
The ATF circulates just as it would under normal operating conditions. The only difference is that the incoming ATF is clean, and the outgoing, used ATF is stored for recycling.
While popular, there are downsides to this method:
Pump inlet flush method: The system is completely flushed, with ATF transferred through the transmission into a drainage pain. When the system is cleared, new ATF is supplied.
More complete than the cooler flush method, this method has drawbacks, too:
Therefore, the pump inlet flush method can be more expensive.
Drivers can expect to pay $125 to $250 for a transmission fluid flush service. This is approximately twice as much as a transmission fluid change. This is due in large part to the additional fluid required. A flush will take 12 to 22 quarts, while a fluid change requires 5 to 7 quarts.
While the flush removes and replaces the ATF in the pan, torque converter, and cooler lines, the fluid exchange drains the fluid from the pan. Here’s how it’s typically done:
It’s important that the car be driven after the transmission fluid exchange. The test drive helps ensure:
If during the test drive, the transmission is grinding or making other noises, there may be problems that require further attention.
Since the transmission fluid exchange is straightforward on most cars, many drivers find DIY (Do It Yourself) is a good way to save money.
Before you decide to DIY, keep in mind that you must have the right tools for the job, and that a transmission fluid exchange can be a messy procedure!
If this sounds too complicated or time-consuming, don’t worry. Jiffy Lube has your back. Just bring your car in and let the trained technicians take it from there.
Typically, this procedure costs between $80 and $250. Why such a wide range? It depends on your answers to these questions:
Refer to your vehicle owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s specification for your vehicle. If you can’t locate your owner’s manual, or if you have questions about these services, feel free to reach out to a Jiffy Lube technician.
REMEMBER, CONSISTENT, TIMELY MAINTENANCE CAN HELP KEEP YOUR CAR RUNNING SMOOTHER LONGER.
Now that you know about transmission flush and transmission fluid change costs, let’s focus on differential fluid.
Please note: Not all services are offered at each Jiffy Lube location. Please check with your local Jiffy Lube service center or visit jiffylube.com for specific services offered.