automatic transmission service is normally described as a fluid and filter
change. A fluid and filter change involves the following
Removing, emptying and cleaning the transmission fluid pan.
the transmission filter - except Honda vehicles 3. Replacing the
clean fluid pan using a
new pan gasket. 4. Replacing the old fluid that was emptied
from the pan with clean fresh fluid (ATF).
Consult your Vehicle
Owner's Manual for the specific transmission service
recommendation, i.e., service interval and type of ATF used.
Don't have your Owner's Manual? It may be available free of
Vehicle Owner Manuals
Following the manufacturer's
recommended transmission service intervals will not only save
you money on costly repairs but you'll enjoy better performance,
better gas mileage, peace of mind and a higher resale
value if and when you ever sell or trade your vehicle.
Transmission Service Cost
For most vehicles, the cost for an an automatic transmission service (fluid
and filter change) costs between $110 and $200. For
high end vehicles and many imports, a transmission service can be
considerably more expensive,
typically costing in excess of $350.
Average Costs for
Automatic Transmission Service: "Fluid/Filter Change"
Vehicle Year, Make, Model
2002 Honda Odyssey
$135 to $200
$175 - $225
$65 to $90
2005 BMW 745Li
$550 to $800
$625 - $875
$225 to $300
2004 Ford Mustang
$200 to $265
$275 - $325
$85 to $125
2002 Chevrolet Suburban
$200 to $265
$230 - $294
$65 to $90
2000 Mazda 626
$235 to $290
$275 - $330
$75 to $100
1999 Toyota Camry
$280 to $330
$335 - $390
$75 to $100
*The DIY Cost column
represents the cost for a transmission filter kit and replacement
Of all the different automotive do-it-yourself projects that can save vehicle owners hundreds or even thousands of dollars,
checking the automatic transmission fluid level and condition is at the top
of the list. According to ATRA (Automatic Transmission Rebuilders
Association), 90% of all transmission failures are fluid
Note: Auto repair shops and car dealerships
will normally check your transmission fluid level free of charge. However, when fluid is needed,
you'll pay a much higher price for the fluid than you could purchase it for
a your local auto parts store or online.
Checking Automatic Transmission Fluid Level DIY Instructions Begin Here
> Paper Towel or "Lint-free" Rag > Funnel ($2.49 at AutoZone) > Automatic Transmission Fluid
"ATF" Check your Vehicle Owner's Manual for
the recommended type of ATF used in your vehicle.
order to get an accurate reading, park your vehicle on level ground and
allow the engine to warm up to its normal operating temperature.
While the engine is warming, shift the transmission through all the
gears before returning the shifter to Park. (Leave the shifter in
each gear for a few seconds before shifting to the next gear).
If your vehicle's engine and transmission are already warm, you can
skip the warm up procedures, but you still need to start the engine
before checking the fluid level.
the engine idling and the transmission in the "P" Park position, open
the hood and locate the transmission dipstick. (There are two
dipsticks; one is for checking the engine oil and the other is for
checking the transmission fluid – double check to be sure you have the
the dipstick out of the tube and look closely at the end of the
dipstick - make a mental note of the fluid level. Wipe the
dipstick clean with a lint-free rag or paper towel and re-insert it
back into the dipstick tube. Pull the dipstick out again and
check the fluid level a second time to confirm the first reading.
(If the two readings are different - check the fluid level a third
time). If the fluid is at the "Full Line" or in the "Full Range"
(see illustration below) no fluid is needed. Insert the dipstick
back into the tube and close the hood. If the fluid level is low,
you will need to add fluid.
add transmission fluid, insert a funnel into the dipstick tube and
slowly poor a small amount (maximum of ½ quart) of ATF into the
transmission. Re-insert the dipstick into the tube, wait a few
seconds then pull the dipstick back out and check the fluid level
again. If it is still low, add a little more fluid and
recheck. Repeat these steps until full. Do not overfill.
Note:Automatic transmissions do not use (or "burn")
transmission fluid as an engine uses/burns motor oil. Therefore, if your transmission
fluid level is low, you probably have a fluid leak.
How to find and repair transmission fluid leaks.
checking the transmission fluid, be sure the dipstick is pushed all the
way down into the dipstick tube before pulling it out to check the
level. If it is not, you will get a false “low” reading, which
will prompt you to add fluid. If you overfill the transmission,
you will need to drain some fluid out to get it back into the “Full
>To help avoid overfilling the transmission, add only a small amount of ATF
before rechecking the level.