Do “Lifetime Fluids” (like transmission and differential fluids) really never need to be changed?

The Dillema: Need Change or Not

Certain fluids such as the transmission and differential have got to be maintained in the best condition possible. The reason for the transmission fluid in particular to be watched is that it keeps a very important part of the car running smoothly. A transmission breakdown can cost thousands of dollars, and most auto mechanics will recommend that the transmission fluid be changed at least every 50,000 miles. Marketing in general uses buzzwords to grab the attention of a person and then push the value of the product. One such attention getter in the automobile industry is “Lifetime Fluids”. What this means is that the fluid does not have to be changed for the lifetime of the car. It hints at the opportunity of having to forgo maintenance service that could cost several hundred dollars. That being said, is the title really true? Do these lifetime fluids never have to be changed at all?

Transmission Box With Engine

Oil Change: The Determining Factors

And non of the head has to be given to advances in technology. For example, the newer models of cars do not need to have their oil change every 3000 miles; that maintenance can be done every 7500 miles instead. The difficulty can be in determining the lifetime of the vehicle. A car that is the Sunday variety, only driven a few thousand miles a year, is going to have a lifetime that stretches out considerably. At the same time a car that is used in a lot of stop and go traffic may find its life cut short because of the stresses of driving. The real defining point of lifetime fluids is that because of new technology the service intervals of the newer models may be extended out more than the old ones. That is the real meaning behind lifetime fluids for most cars, they don’t need to be changed as often.

Signs: When You Need Fluid Change

Car owners can get lulled into a false sense of security with lifetime fluids. Not having to change the transmission or differential fluid as often as before doesn’t mean a car owner should ignore maintenance on either. Warning sounds will come from under the hood regardless of what brand of fluid is being used. Trouble shifting gears is a sign of danger in the transmission and if a red light on the dashboard signals transmission service is needed, it should not be ignored.

Transmission Fluid

Caution While Changing the Fluid

The newer models that have lifetime fluid in them can be a puzzle. Transmissions of new cars that have lifetime fluid in them may in fact be sealed. It isn’t possible to change the transmission fluid easily and trying to do it could cause damage to a very sensitive piece of equipment. The owner should take a look at the owner’s manual regarding the transmission. If that manual does not give an indication of when the transmission fluid is to be changed, the chances are this maintenance procedures not going to be routinely necessary. Nevertheless, it is still a good idea to keep an ear cocked for any disturbing noises coming from under the hood.

Lifetime Fluids Change Tips

The owner should also keep in mind the age of the automobile he or she is driving. The newer cars have the lifetime fluid but not necessarily the older models. This means that a maintenance schedule for the transmission fluid has to be observed. The good news is that transmission fluid only needs to be changed every 50,000 – 100,000 miles. In purchasing an older car the new owner should ask when the transmission fluid was last checked, and then calculate the mileage point when the transmission fluid needs to be changed next. If at the time the fluid is changed on the older car the owner wishes to go to lifetime fluid, the price has to be noted. Lifetime fluids cost much more than the ordinary variety of fluid. With that in mind, the owner of an older car has to determine just how much more life is left in it. If there are only a few more years left then perhaps staying with standard transmission or differential fluid would be a better economic decision. What is necessary to remember is that lifetime fluid and new technology means that maintenance intervals are pushed out for thousands of additional miles. It does not mean that necessary fluids should be ignored entirely.