Transmission Service vs. Fluid Exchange: What’s Best for Your Car?

Dear Mike,

I’ve been trying to take care of my car’s automatic transmission, but I’m not sure what service is best. What is the difference between an automatic transmission fluid exchange and a transmission service? Is one better for my car than the other? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!


Hey there Ezra!

Taking care of your car’s automatic transmission is crucial, so good on you for trying to figure out the best approach! Let me break down the difference between a transmission service and an automatic transmission fluid exchange for you.

A transmission service is essentially a large-scale oil change for your transmission system. During a service, the old fluid is drained out and replaced with new fluid. This approach can help to restore your transmission system to good working order and is a cheaper option.

On the other hand, a transmission fluid exchange is a more intensive procedure. This process utilizes a machine that completely removes all old fluid and replaces it with new. During the procedure, ALL existing fluid is pumped out of the transmission system. Once drained, completely, brand new fluid is added, resulting in a much more efficient and smooth-running transmission system.

While a transmission service will help to restore your system to good working order and is the cheaper option, a fluid exchange is more costly but guarantees complete removal of any contaminants that may have accumulated in the system.

Now, to answer your question- is one better for your car than the other? Well, it really depends on the condition of your system. If you’ve been doing regular maintenance on your car and monitoring the condition of your transmission fluid, a standard service may be all you need. But, if your car is older or you haven’t been monitoring your transmission’s fluid levels, a fluid exchange may be the way to go to ensure the cleanliness and overall efficiency of your transmission system.

And just a friendly reminder- be sure to check your owner’s manual to find out how to check the transmission fluid on your specific vehicle. By monitoring the color and clarity of your transmission fluid and continuing to do regular maintenance, you’ll be ensuring your car stays in tip-top shape and avoiding those costly repair bills.

Hope that clears things up for you, Ezra! Happy driving!

Best regards,
Mike Urban