How to fix a slipping transmission
Every day I get questions from readers about transmission slipping. They always want to know if a transmission fluid change will fix the problem. I’ve got news for you. If you’ve neglected your transmission to the point where the fluid is a dark brown, a fluid change will NOT fix your transmission. This isn’t even a case of “what have I got to lose by trying it.” It’s simply a total waste of money with almost NO chance of making the transmission better. In fact, adding fresh fluid to a neglected transmission has a very high chance of totally destroying it. The fresh fluid will dissolve the varnish buildup from the burned oil and that can clog up everything.
How about transmission additives?
Well, if your car is an old junker and you only need to get a few more months of driving out of it, then by all means, pour in a can of transmission fix. That stuff works by swelling the rubber seals and that can improve the shifting. But only for a little while. It’s going to fail completely—and soon.
If you drive an older car and the transmission operates well, you can extend its life by adding a transmission conditioner like Lubegard, ProLong, or Lucas Transmission Fluid conditioner. If you drive a late model car that uses synthetic fluid, you won’t benefit from any of these products.
What’s the bottom line on fluid flushes?
Like I said, if you’ve neglected your transmission and the fluid is dark brown and burned, a fluid flush may make it worse. But what if you haven’t neglected your transmission? Well, dealer shop must use the proper fluid for flushing and that’s why they charge so much more than the independent shops. For example, if you drive a Ford, the Ford dealer must use Mercon V to flush your transmission. Mercon V costs about $6/quart and the shop uses almost 16 quarts. But independent shop use older and much cheaper Dexron III to do the flush. Then they add a bottle of friction modifier to change to alter the friction characteristics of Dexron III to match Mercon V. NO MANUFACTURER approves that method. Also, keep in mind that Mercon V, Dexron VI, and Chrysler ATF+4, Toyota and Honda transmission fluids are all fully synthetic. Dexrron III ISN’T. So you’re basically flushing with an inferior fluid. So what if they modified it to match the friction characteristics of the factory fluid? It’s still not synthetic. In other words, the flush is cheaper than the dealer, but you’re basically getting screwed. Always ask the shop which flushing fluid they use. If they say Dexron, don’t get your vehicle serviced their anymore. If they tell you they use the factory fluid, do the math. Sixteen quarts of synthetic fluid at a minimum of $6/quart is $100. The flush itself in an hour labor. So, if the shop is charging you $149, you’re probably NOT getting synthetic fluid. The price should be closer to $200.
© 2012 Rick Muscoplat
Posted on by Rick Muscoplat