Transmission Services $-$$$
How come transmission services range in prices? There are different kinds of services, different tools people utilize to perform them, and different fluids out there.
Let's understand the types of services.
Drain & Fill - You drain some fluid out (you can't get all of it) and fill it back up
Transmission Filter Change/Pan Drop - Remove the transmission pan, dispose of the fluid there at the same time and install a new transmission filter and fill back up. Depending on make, model and transmission is normally about 1/3 of fluid.
Fluid Exchange/Flush - Use a machine to push out the old fluid and pump new fluid in the car. The new BG Products Transmission Machine boasts between a 95-98% fluid exchange rate due to the fact some clutches and servos will not cycle while doing the service.
Fluid Exchange/Flush with additives (my personal preference) - Same process as the Fluid Exchange/Flush, but first you add a cleaner prior to the service and at the end you add a transmission conditioner. And in this case, the minuscule amount of fluid that is not replaces is cleaned and rejuvenated by the new fluid and conditioner.
The drain and fill will be the most cost effective, but typically requires a more frequent service interval. Sometimes every third oil change or every 15,000 miles. The full flush is typically the most expensive option, but mostly because of the fluid. If your auto repair shop breaks down the parts and labor, take a look at how much that fluid runs. (And no, your shop is not making a killing on the fluid.)
- Further analyzing the cost of the full flush:
1. Genuine fluid isn't always cheap.
2. Using a machine that's a few to several thousand dollars to complete the job
3. You have a higher level technician performing the service
Always use the original manufacturer recommended specification when dealing with transmission fluid. Yes, you can find cheaper fluids, but as the transmission is one of the most expensive items to repair on a vehicle, don't skimp on the fluid. I always use genuine fluid, even if it makes me more expensive than my competitors. People come to me for my expertise and car care advice. If I use original fluid in my vehicle, why wouldn't I for my client? That's like a hedge fund manager not putting his money where he puts his client's money...
Oh, and my 2007 Ford Expedition has almost 185,000 miles on it. Original transmission. And my 2002 Mercedes SLK 320 had over 220,000 miles on it. Original transmission.
My secret, the transmission Fluid Exchange/Flush. I like to spend my money on other things than transmission repairs and worry about other things than my car.
Next time you want to call around for the transmission services, ask what kind of service is it and what kind of fluids they use. If they have a problem with the questions, say thank you and hang up. Call another place.