Flushing your car’s transmission means clearing the hydraulic lines of old fluid and sludge.
This helps prevent clogs and leaks, extending the transmission’s life and lowering the odds of needing a costly repair.
Here’s the ultimate guide on the cost of a transmission flush.
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How Much Does A Transmission Flush Cost?
In my opinion, you could spend from $150 to $400 to get your car’s transmission cleaned, exclusive of taxes/charges. This comprises 12 to 16 units of transmission fluid ranging from $8 to $20 each, and half an hour at a store that charges $75 to $130 per hour.
In this guide, I will cover these costs in more detail. We’ll also review how a flush is performed, how often it’s needed, how it differs from a “change,” and what can happen if you ignore the service.
Note: Prices mentioned in this guide are estimates. The exact cost to flush a car’s transmission fluid depends on the make and model, shop rate, fluid quality, and capacity.
How Is A Transmission Fluid Flush Performed?
To perform a fluid flush, shops connect a specialty machine to the transmission’s cooling lines. This works much like a dialysis machine, draining the old fluid and running new fluid through to “flush” the system and wash away sludge.
Once finished, the system is left clean, free of debris, and full of fresh fluid.
How Often Should You Flush A Transmission?
Most manufacturers suggest fluid flushes every two years or 30,000 miles as part of a car’s service schedule. Yet, some automakers recommend waiting until 100,000 miles.
Considering how expensive transmission flush prices are, you surely don’t want to perform the service more often than needed. For this reason, make sure to check your car’s owner’s manual first.
How Much Does A Transmission Flush Cost?
In a previous article, we covered the average hourly shop rates paid by customers, which range from $75 to $130 per hour. Shops typically take 30 to 60 minutes to flush a transmission but usually only charge for 30.
In total, expect to spend $37.50 to $65 in labor costs.
As for parts, if the transmission filter doesn’t need replacing, you’ll only be paying for the automatic transmission fluid (ATF). Most cars take 12 to 16 quarts of ATF, each costing $8 to $20, depending on the ATF type your vehicle takes.
When tallied, parts costs come out to between $96 and $320.
Combine labor and parts pricing, and the total cost to flush a vehicle’s transmission—before taxes or fees—ranges from $133.50 to $385.
What Happens If You Don’t Flush Transmission Fluid?
Shifting performance will likely suffer if your car’s transmission has too much dirt and sludge built up internally. Eventually, shifting can become difficult or even impossible.
Symptoms that suggest your transmission needs flushing include:
- Dark brown ATF
- Gear slippage
- Whining and/or grinding noises
- Engine overheating
- ATF leaks
Not flushing your ATF will unlikely cause the transmission to “fail.” Yet, the symptoms of ignoring fluid flushes can cause long-term harm to other parts of a car on their own.
Flushing vs. Changing: Which Transmission Service Costs More?
Changing a transmission’s fluid is an entirely different service than a flush. A fluid change also includes draining the old fluid, but instead of “flushing” the system clean, fresh ATF is simply added in.
Depending on how many quarts of ATF your car takes, draining the system and filling it should cost $80 to $250.
When changing ATF, replacing the transmission filter, and, depending on the condition, the pan gasket is common. The former runs $15 to $30, and the latter $75 to $150. In total, expect to spend $170 to $430 to change a transmission’s fluid properly.
Find out more about the expenses associated with changing transmission fluid in our comprehensive guide.
Transmission Fluid Flush: A Vital Service Needed Every 2 Years/30,000 Miles
You only need to flush your transmission every two years, but it’s very important to do so as part of your regular maintenance.
You may hear some noises like whining or grinding if there is a problem with your car. These symptoms usually won’t hurt your car, but they let you know something is wrong. However, it’s different for ATF leaks and engine overheating. These could cause serious problems that are expensive to fix.
You can avoid costly repairs by simply maintaining your car per the manufacturer’s suggested service schedule. Learn more about car maintenance intervals in our comprehensive service guide.