Transmission Fluid Analysis

Most of us realize that it is important to change the oil periodically, but how many of you change the transmission fluid? Do you even know how to check the fluid? Do you check it? Part of my pre-trip inspection is to check the transmission fluid. This is done with the engine running and after having shifted the transmission into each gear. But when is it time to change the fluid? There are numbers all over the place for when to change your transmission fluid. The two easiest ways to tell are;

1. if the fluid is not bright red, then change it.

2. Have a Transmission fluid analysis done. This is just like the engine oil analysis. Pull a sample and send it to have the fluid checked out. You will get a report that tells you what metals are in the fluid, such as:

  • Aluminum: Torque converter, the case, gear and vane pumps, thrust washers
  • Chromium: Ball and roller bearings, alloy of steel parts like gears
  • Iron: Gears, bearings, shafts, some cases, clutch plates
  • Copper: Bronze bushings, oil cooler oxides, clutch plates, brass fittings
  • Lead: Residual gear marking compound, alloy of bronze
  • Tin: Some bearing cages, alloy of bronze
  • Nickel: Clutch bands, gear/shaft steel alloy
  • Silver: Some soft friction bearings, Allison needle bearings
  • Manganese: Alloy of steel
  • Titanium: Trace wear metal

In addition to the oil type ratings such as Viscosity and Flashpoint. All in all giving you a good idea as to what is going on within the transmission and when to change the fluid.

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