Fluid Exchange VS Drain & Fill

Fluid Exchange vs Drain and Fill

Fluid Exchange vs. Drain & Fill

Over the past several years we have seen an increased need for more comprehensive fluid exchanges of your car’s vital fluids.  Manufacturer’s scheduled maintenance intervals have been stretched out to 50,000, 100,000, or even 150,000 miles between services.  This has sometimes led to premature failures of automatic transmissions, power steering components, cooling systems, and brake systems.  While it is true that today’s vehicles are built better, the fore-mentioned systems still work the same way and have the same components of vehicles built in the past.  In some cases the vehicles don’t even have a transmission dipstick to check the condition of the fluid. 

Conventional wisdom would tell most people that the more often you change the fluids, the longer those systems go without a failure.  While before we would simply drain and fill most fluids, today our recommendations based on our experience is to provide a better way.  The following fluids need to have periodic comprehensive fluid exchanges, not just drain and fill.

  • Automatic Transmission
  • Cooling System
  • Braking System, ABS Brakes
  • Power steering



The issue with drain and fill fluid services

First let’s look your automatic transmission.  It is made up of numerous moving metal parts that require proper lubrication which is in this case transmission Fluid.  With time, the transmission fluid becomes contaminated with particles of friction material and minute pieces of metal.  In addition, the fluids protective additives break down.  This leads to increased wear and tear and eventually a breakdown.  When transmissions are drained of fluid and filled with new fluid, only about 1/3rd of the fluid is changed.  The torque converter and the numerous passages in the valve body contain and trap the remaining fluid.  The new fluid is mixed with the contaminated fluid thus only providing minimal protection against failure. 

To get the longest life out of your transmission, you need to exchange the contaminated fluid with 100% fresh fluid.

All of the other systems are affected similarly when we only drain and fill.  Therefore, we highly recommend complete fluid exchanges when maintaining your vehicle. 

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