In the last few years this question has come up many times? I say in the last few years because up until around 2004 most vehicle manufacturers not only recommended, but their dealerships strongly urged a transmission flush service every 2 years or 30,000 miles whichever came first. This has become the norm in the automotive service and repair industry. Then along came long-life transmission fluids, actually these have been around for years, and now the dealerships are saying 80,000 or even 100,000 miles in between services. Maybe you have noticed that the 30,000 and 60,000 mile services have gone down considerably in price and services performed since 2004, this is especially true in the Toyota – Lexus, and Honda – Acura line of vehicle.
The only thing that has really changed is the dealer and manufacturer mind-set. They simply have changed their focus to vehicle sales instead of service and maintenance. Most do not care how long your vehicle lasts, they are expecting even hoping that you will trade it in every few years, thus never suffering the consequences of poor vehicle maintenance.
So what has research in the field shown as to when it is best to perform automatic transmission flush services? Time and again the same answer is held true, the best way to maintain your vehicle’s automatic transmission is to have a competent repair shop fully flush all of the fluid with a flush machine every 2 years or 30,000 miles whichever comes first. Many of my Lexus customers are very surprised when they come to me for the first time, after having the dealer perform the 30,000 mile service, and I show them what their transmission fluid looks like when you do not do it every 30,000 miles. (See picture of Lexus Long-life fluid after only 41,686 miles, normal driving.)
A typical fluid flush with long life fluid is going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $160 US. However my experience is that when this type of service is kept up regularly it will save you literally thousands of dollars in the long run, and give your transmission trouble free miles well into the 200,000 maybe even 300,000 miles! A good investment indeed.
For those of you who do not keep your vehicles that long, lack of service may not affect you in the 2-3 years that you drive this vehicle, however it will affect the vehicle and the planet in due time. Benefits to you are; stronger resale value of a well-maintained car or truck, and the “green aspect” of keeping it out of the wrecking yard as it begins to change hands.