Do I Need to Do That Transmission, Coolant, Brake Fluid Flush?

How to determine if you really need additional services done on your car.

Owning a car is kind of a big deal. You have the freedom to go anywhere you like (take that long-planned road trip!) and get to cart around some of the most important people in your life. There’s a certain sense of pride that comes with vehicle ownership; but there’s the added responsibility of maintaining your car, too. 

In order to enjoy those road trips and car rides with friends and family, regular maintenance and servicing is required. 

When you bring your car into a service center for a brake repair, an oil change, or a standard checkup, your technician might say that they need to run some other tests or complete additional maintenance—like replacing transmission fluid, coolant, or brake fluid—on your car. 

Study up on a few of the common services auto shops might offer, so the next time you take your car in for regular, routine maintenance you’re better equipped to determine whether or not you need these additional services.

Transmission fluid

Power flushing transmission fluid is needed for transmission cooling, cool plumbing, and torque conversion. Drivers used to change their transmission fluid after traversing roughly 30,000 miles or so; but with improved automobile technology, people started to think that they didn’t need to change the transmission fluid at all. After consulting automotive experts, however, it’s recommended that transmission fluid is professionally flushed after hitting anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 miles. Keep in mind, though, that vehicles driven under harsh conditions or consistant strain—like a work truck, older car, or vehicle that does a lot of stop-and-go driving—may require more frequent transmission flushing that fall outside of those mile markers.

Antifreeze or coolant

Modern coolants made specifically for autos last a really long time while still fully supporting the operation and function of your car. Naturally, however, coolants can get contaminated with dust, dirt, and other environmental components. During vehicle testing, you’ll likely see sufficient levels of antifreeze (aka coolant) adequate for protecting your engine from extreme temperatures. In fact, coolant/antifreeze is mixed with equal parts water (preferably distilled water, according to experts) to help lower the freezing and boiling points of the engine. But over time, antifreeze/coolant tends to become acidic and loses its rust-preventing capabilities, which can lead to corrosion. Corrosion can cause damage to the cooling system and the radiator. So, if your vehicle has racked up 75,000 miles, the coolant should be tested at regular intervals. And if test results are satisfactory, there is no need to flush your car’s system.

Brake fluid and power steering fluid

Whether you contact a shop that deals with brake repairs or read your vehicle owner's manual, you’ll likely find out that there is no real need to change your brake or power steering fluids. What is necessary, though, is topping up the fluids when they get low. But there are always exceptions to rules. In rare cases, brake fluids and power steering fluids can get contaminated if the vehicle has covered a long distance (125,000 miles or more) or if there is a leak in the system. 

Before investing in any maintenance related to coolant/antifreeze replacement, brake or power steering fluid change, or transmission fluid flush, request an appointment at any of the AAA Owned Auto Repair Centers near you. Or, find a AAA Approved Auto Repair Facility in your neighborhood. AAA Members receive a 10% discount on labor and a 24-month, 24,000-mile warranty. Not a Member? Not a problem! All are welcome.