Should I Change Transmission Fluid After 200k Miles (Best Tips!)

Should I Change Transmission Fluid After 200k Miles

Do you know if you should change transmission fluid after 200k miles?  this is one of the questions our readers ask a lot. Well, we´ve got you covered.

So, should you change transmission fluid after 200k miles? Yes, you should be replacing your transmission fluid well before you hit that 200k miles mark. If you aren’t replacing it before than 200k mile mark, then you will likely run into some huge issues. However, for most transmission fluids, the average lifespan is 100k to 150k miles.  

In fact, you may even end up dealing with some rather substantial repair bills.

Although, this is very much a guideline number. If you use your vehicle often in cities (i.e. a lot of stopping and starting) then you may need to be replacing your transmission fluid a lot more often than this.

On this page, we are going to talk a little bit about what transmission fluid does. This should tell you why it is important that you replace it often.

We will also talk about how you can spot when your transmission fluid needs to be changed.

What does transmission fluid do?

The job of transmission fluid is to lubricate and protect all of the transmission systems.

Essentially, it helps to prevent wear and tear on all of those components inside of the transmission. It will help to reduce running temperatures too.

Basically, transmission fluid helps to cut down on the chance that you are going to be looking at costly repairs related to your transmission.

It is worth noting that the transmission fluid for an automatic vehicle is going to be different from the transmission fluid required for a manual.

So, if you do need to buy a new transmission fluid, make sure you buy the right one for your vehicle. It is not universal.

Can Changing your Transmission Fluid Cause Damage? >> Check out the video below:

How do you know your transmission fluid needs to be changed?

If you have been driving for 200,000 miles without changing your transmission fluid, then you don’t really need to test whether your transmission fluid needs to be changed.

We can assure you that it needs to be changed.

Almost all transmission fluids on the market are probably going to stop being as effective around the 100,000 to 150,000-mile mark.

This will be the upper cap. In some cases, the transmission fluid may need to be replaced a whole lot more sooner than this.

Perhaps the first sign that you may need to replace the transmission fluid is if you start to hear sounds when you turn that acceleration up or go around corners.

Every single vehicle will sound different here, but there will be a noticeable sound that is a little bit different from what you would normally expect.

If you have a manual vehicle, then you may find that it becomes a little bit of a struggle to switch between gears on the vehicle.

It won’t be a huge struggle, but there will be a noticeable change in the smoothness of gear changes. You may even notice it ever so slightly on an automatic if, when the vehicle switches gears, there is a small judder.

Those that have transmission fluid that needs to be changed may also notice a small burning smell coming from the vehicle while driving.

This could indicate high heat. Remember, though; a burning smell does not always indicate a problem with the transmission. However, it does indicate that there is an issue with the vehicle somehow. A serious issue.

A burning smell is never good and you will need to get to the garage as soon as you can.

In most cars, when the check engine light comes on, this will also indicate that there is a problem with the transmission. Again, there could be a multitude of reasons why that light comes on.

Heading to the garage is the only way that you can get that problem properly dealt with.

Read also: Does Walmart Recycle Transmission Fluid (Explained!)

What happens if you don’t replace your transmission fluid?  

If you don’t change your transmission fluid when it needs to be changed, then your transmission is not going to run as smoothly.

The parts that are meant to run against one another won’t be able to do that. There will be a small amount of friction.

This friction is going to cause heat, and that is going to damage the various components in your transmission.

If the problem is allowed to go on for too long, then you will be looking forward to repairing bills well into the thousands of dollars.

Can you replace the transmission fluid yourself?

You can. However, if you have left it to the 200k mark to replace the transmission fluid, then we probably wouldn’t recommend that you do it yourself. Instead, take your vehicle to a garage.

This is because if you have left the replacement of your transmission fluid that long, then chances are that there will be a small amount of wear and tear on your transmission.

If you just replace the transmission fluid and drive around, then this wear and tear is only going to get worse.

Taking your vehicle to a garage will allow them to check whether there are any issues. If there are, they will be able to iron them out before those issues end up becoming a massive problem.


You should be replacing your transmission fluid a long time before the 200,000-mile mark. If you have hit the 200,000-mile mark, then get to the garage as soon as you can.

Not only do you need to have the transmission fluid changed, but you will need an expert to quickly check over the transmission to ensure that there are no issues. 

Here are some of my favorite tools & equipment´s

Thank you for reading this article. I hope it helps you find the most recent and accurate technical and repair information for your car. Here are some tools that I use as an automotive technician and hope you´ll also find helpful.

There are affiliate links, so if you do decide to use any of them, I´ll earn a small commission. But in all honesty, these are the exact tools that I use and recommend to everyone, even my own family. (NO CRAP)

To see all my of most up-to-date recommendations, check out this resource that I made for you!



Jeff is an automotive technician, technical writer, and Managing Editor. He has held a lifelong passion for cars, with a particular interest in cars like the Buick Reatta. Jeff has been creating written and video content about transportation, automotive, electric cars, future vehicles as well as new, used for more than 18 years. Jeff is based in Boulder, Colorado.

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