Automatic, Manual, & Sequential Transmission Services


One of the most important parts in your vehicle to keep properly maintained is your transmission. Most vehicle manufacturers recommend a transmission flush to be performed at regular intervals, usually when the car has reached 100,000 miles or more. Other manufacturers recommend that the transmission be serviced with a fluid change every 30,000 miles or so, and still other manufacturers recommend that the transmission never be serviced. With all this conflicting information it can be difficult to determine if your transmission should be serviced or not. It can be confusing to say the least.

Before you can determine if your transmission needs to be serviced or not you need to have a little bit of information first. One of the first things that you need to check is the vehicle’s manual or the manufacturers website. If the manual or the website recommends that the transmission not be serviced, then don’t have it serviced. If the manual or the website doesn’t give a definite answer, then use the guide below to determine if service on your transmission is necessary. Here I have listed the three most common types of transmissions and the service that each may or may not need.

It should be noted that while some cars should have their transmission fluid and filter changed at regular intervals, it is usually not recommended by any manufacturer to have them flushed. A flush performed by a flush machine can damage the seals on a transmission and cause it to fail. While draining the fluid may not remove all the old fluid from the transmission, it still has its benefits and is a much safer option than having the transmission flushed.

Automatic Transmission Service

When an automatic transmission is serviced, the filter on the valve body and the fluid is changed. This service is not done on transmissions that have a lifetime fluid service claim, unless the car has been getting its transmission serviced on a regular basis. In that case, the service should be completed at regularly scheduled intervals. Most automatic transmissions don’t have a lifetime service claim however, and usually recommend that the transmission be serviced at regular intervals. The most common interval for a transmission fluid change is every 30,000 miles or so.

Manual Transmissions

A manual transmission contains fluid that aids in gear lubrication. In most cases this fluid can last a lot longer than automatic transmissions, but still should be changed at regularly scheduled intervals. Most mechanics recommend that a manual transmission have its fluid and filter changed every 30,000 miles.

Sequential Transmissions

Sequential transmissions are a fairly new product to the automotive world and are generally considered to be an automatic transmission that has the option of a manual gearbox. This gives the user the option of using the transmission in automatic or manual modes. The sequential gearbox will have clutches inside it like a manual transmission. It will also contain pneumatic motors that allow it to shift in automatic mode. Although these transmissions have manual clutches inside, they normally do not contain a clutch pedal because this is controlled by an onboard computer. This is the same computer that handles the shifting of the gearbox when it is in automatic transmission mode.

Sequential transmissions almost always have a recommended service interval and they should be serviced according to this schedule. These systems can also be quite complex and may need software updates or patches to make sure that they are running to the highest possible standard. These updates often extend the useful life of the sequential transmission by many miles.

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