Took a little time this afternoon to take care of my car, some preventive maintenance that’s long overdue. Apparently, according to the literature, the owner of a car must “get the transmission fluid changed” on a regular basis. This is something I’ve never done, nor never had done, to any vehicle I’ve owned (all three of them). It seems that the fluid inside the transmission actually decomposes after a long time and a lot of mileage and must be completely replaced. Huh!
Some people say it is supposed to be replaced after 30,000 miles. Some say 60,000. Others say 120,000 miles. My car’s odometer reads 118,000, and since I’ve owned the car (since 65,000 miles), I’ve never had this service performed. So I’m well overdue. Who knew?
I think it may have been the cause of the transmission being sluggish while shifting between gears when the engine is cold. Once it heats up, it shifts pretty instantly. I’ll give the car an hour or so and try when it’s cold to see if this fixed it.
Had a bit of worry, though, during the chore. The first shop I took it to, a local, reputable transmission specialist (you can tell by the number of Better Business Bureau membership stickers they have covering the front door), they took a look at the color of the fluid and judged that it was too risky to attempt the fluid change. Now, I’ve heard of this before where parts of the transmission (namely pieces of pressed cardboard and rubber) wear down and their particulates wash around in the fluid, changing the color from “red wine” to “dark red”; changing the fluid after these parts have started degrading takes away the last of what is keeping them working. So sometimes the car malfunctions afterwards. So when they offered to take it apart and examine the insides for the tidy sum of $450, I told them I’d think about it.
Then I went to the dealership. Aside from being horribly busy, they took my car in, and a few hours later had the fluid changed for $50 and I was on my way. Not the experience I expected, but glad for it.
So let my experiences today illuminate your path. Be sure to not ignore the recommended maintenance on your car. I know the shops and quick-lube places are trying to scare every dollar out of you by saying you need services more often than recommended by the manufacturer, but if you do your research and read the manual, you can make informed decisions.
Extra knowledge bonus: Today, I learned that Honda Civics do not have user-replaceable transmission fluid filters, and any shop that sells you on the filter replacement is not worthy of your business. In order to replace the filter, you’d have to completely disassemble the transmission, and this obviously voids any implicit or explicit warranty on your vehicle. Just an FYI.