If you don't have to shift gears in your car while driving, then you have an automatic transmission. The transmission is the gearbox connected to the engine that transmits the engine's energy to the wheels to move the car. It uses gearing to raise or lower the amount of spin (rotations per minute) that the engine has versus the wheels.
As one of the more complex components of the car's drive train, the transmission requires regular maintenance and can occasionally go bad or require repair.
Routine Auto Trans Maintenance
Your automatic transmission requires regular maintenance. How often will depend on your vehicle's type and model. Details will be outlined in your owner's manual. For most cars, the fluid level and cleanliness should be checked at every oil change interval. Low or dirty fluid could be a sign of age, leaks, or other problems.
Most vehicles will require flush and replacement of the transmission fluid every few years. This usually includes replacement of the filter screen. For most cars, this is at intervals of 30,000-50,000 miles. Newer vehicles may be as infrequent as 100,000 miles.
Flush and Replace
A transmission flush and replace can be done at any qualified garage and usually doesn't require special skills or certification for the mechanic performing the work. DIY home mechanics can also do this, of course.
The original fluid is drained and a special flush is applied to clean out deposits and any lingering fluid. Then the filter is removed and replaced and new fluid is added to fill the reservoir. Most shops charge $60-$100 for this service.
Sometimes, a mechanic might find something wrong or believe that the transmissions warrants a closer check. Most can diagnose problems without removing and tearing down the transmission. If your mechanic says that a tear down is required in order to pinpoint and fix the problem, you should ask for the reason and costs up-front and in writing.
If the mechanic won't supply this, take your car elsewhere. Some mechanics will recommend you take your car to a shop that specializes in transmission repair. This may cost more, but because these mechanics specialize, they are more apt to have the right tools and knowledge to get the fix right the first time.
Other transmission repair pages