Car Oils And Fluids

Transmission Fluid Change Vs Flush - Pros And Cons?

Mike Cross
Updated Aug 1, 2021
Transmission Fluid Change Vs Flush

Having a highly-functioning transmission is important for any vehicle. The need for transmission fluid in your vehicle is always high considering that you need something to keep it the moving parts of your transmission cool and moving smoothly.

However, the time will come for you to make some kind of decision. Will you need to change the fluid or will you need to flush it out? This may be a difficult decision. But we’ll break down the good and the bad of both changing and flushing transmission fluid so you can decide which one is best for you.

Knowing Your Transmission Fluid

The good thing about transmission fluid is that you can be able to tell when it may need to be changed. For example, a newly added amount of fluid should be colored red. Anything beyond that may leave you with a sign that it may need to be changed at some point. The reason for this is that dirt, debris, and other particles may make their way into the transmission system. Over time, that build-up will cause the transmission fluid color to change.

The colors you’ll need to look out for are dark red, brown, or black. Any one of these three colors will indicate that it will be time for a change. However, it will depend on the type of vehicle you will have. Your owner’s manual should have instructions on what color to look for and when it will be time to change the fluid itself.

Changing Transmission Fluid

Transmission Fluid Change Vs Flush
Transmission Fluid Change Vs Flush

Changing the transmission fluid is a method of which you are able to change a large amount of fluid in one sitting. One of the best benefits of changing transmission fluid is a large amount of buildup will be removed. Meanwhile, it will also serve as the perfect time for you to change your transmission filter. However, it won’t replace the old fluid completely for the new.

With this process, your transmission will likely run much better. But keep in mind that not all of the buildup has been drained from the transmission system. This means that you may need to do another change in a shorter time span than last time. Once you have changed the fluid, you’ll now need to monitor its color. If needed, feel free to add a few fluid additives to ensure that your transmission is running smoothly and helps the fluid prevent more buildups over a shorter period.

You should also consider going a transmission fluid change every 30,000 miles. Regardless if it’s automatic or manual, professional service for transmission fluid changes will average out to about $100 or so. On paper, it seems like a cost-effective service. But if you are doing it yourself, that could be your best option financially.

Transmission Fluid Flush

A transmission fluid flush will completely flush out any of the old fluid so it can make room for the new. How it works is that the fluid is pumped out of your transmission system. After the flush is complete, you can replace it with new fluid.

As expected, your transmission will run more smoothly and with more efficiency. If you opt for a full-service fluid flush, keep in mind that it will cost you an average of $150. This includes the costs of new fluid and labor. It is highly recommended that you do a transmission fluid flush every 60,000 miles.

Pros and Cons of Transmission Fluid Changes and Flushes

Both the change and flush methods each come with it’s set of pros and cons. Let’s start by taking a look at transmission fluid changes and what to expect from them:

Transmission Fluid Changes


  • Cost-effective choice
  • Will flush out a lot of the dirt and debris
  • Allows you to change the transmission filter when needed


  • May not entirely drain the buildup, which may lead to quicker buildups over a shorter time

Transmission Fluid Flushes


  • The period between two flushes is a bit long (every 60,000 miles)
  • Will completely flush out any of the old fluid and build-up
  • Helps the transmission run a bit more smoothly


  • May be a bit costly for full-service flushing

Which is better?

If you are looking for a cost-effective way to get rid of all the bad buildup in your engine system, you’re better off getting a fluid change. You’ll drain a majority of the buildup, but you may need to monitor the fluid color over time. However, a transmission flush is more up your alley if you want a complete replacement and a lot more of the debris and dirt to go along with it.

While your decision is entirely up to you, it’s important to consider some factors. One major factor is that some car manufacturers may also recommend one method in favor of the other. For example, Honda highly recommends to not do a transmission fluid flush since some of the fluid additives may not be compatible with their engines. So the only option would be to change the fluid instead.

Can I Do Any Of This Myself?

If you are more of the DIY type, you are more welcome to drain the transmission fluid by yourself. Do this if you intend to save money on repair bills or even a full-service flush. A flush will likely be done by a skilled mechanic and you may risk damaging your transmission if you try to attempt it yourself.


A transmission fluid change or flush can go either way. But keep in mind, it may be a good idea to do one or the other on the advice of your vehicle’s manufacturer. Remember to consult your owner’s manual if you have any questions regarding how to dispose and replace your transmission fluid. You may be allowed to do one method, but be advised to not do another.

Your transmission is one of the key parts of your vehicle that you’ll definitely need to keep up and running. Without it, it might be rendered useless over time.

Mike Cross
Life is too short to drive with stock audio

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2 comments on “Transmission Fluid Change Vs Flush - Pros And Cons?”

  1. Hey, Thanks for the advice. I'm struggling as to whether not change the fluid because the process could loosen the varnish build-up that probably 72,000 miles of never changing the fluid has deposited. It's a newly (used) bought 2016 Ford Focus 2.5 litre engine. I see that probably a flush might be in order but am confused as to what to do! If I'm lucky you will get this somehow and think of what you would recommend. please respond if you like. Thanks again,

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