Posted by & filed under Fluids, Maintenance.

Some fluids are promoted to “last a lifetime,” but they don’t always declare what the lifetime expectancy is. In an effort to effectively market their products as low maintenance, there are a lot of advertisements that certain transmission fluids, drive train fluids, and engine fluids will last a lifetime. Unfortunately, those claims do not specify that the fluids are meant to last “their lifetime,” not “your vehicle’s lifetime,” “your lifetime,” or the lifetime of your engine and/or transmission.

The quickest way to replace a new engine or transmission is to not change the fluid. Your Owners Manual will say that you don’t have to change the fluid, but don’t believe it. The manufacturer is trying to lower the initial cost of ownership. The best thing that you can do for your car to help it run for 100K, 200K, or 300K miles is by maintaining regular fluid services. Most vehicles will last a long time, if you service the:

  • Transmission every 30,000 miles
  • Engine oil every 5000 miles
  • Engine coolant every 30,000
  • Brake fluid every 2 years
  • Power steering fluid every 30,000 miles
  • Differential fluids every 30,000 miles

That’s not saying you don’t need to pay attention to your Owners Manual. There are some vehicles that have 10 year / 100,000 miles warranties but require a fluid service within 10,000 or 15,000 miles. If you don’t do this, the warranty is void.

Mini Cooper Transmission Fluid
Photo Credit: NRMA New Cars via Compfight cc

We install engines and transmissions all the time in cars that have 50,000 – 80,000 miles on them and it’s always for the same reason: the oil did not get changed, or transmission fluid did not get changed. These things are full of moving parts that wear and leave behind debris and deposits that the filters do not remove. A lot of vehicles don’t use transmission filters, so the only way to clean the fluid is to flush it out with new fluid.

When you purchase your next car and the dealer says it has lifetime fluid in it, ask them if the vehicle has a lifetime warranty on it. That “lifetime” fluid is yet another one of those misguided recommendations by the car maker to make your car appear to be more “maintenance free” than it really is. Recommendations like this are designed by the marketing department as a PR stunt to get you to purchase the vehicle.

The truth is, all vehicles need to be maintained on a regular basis in order to perform properly, and this includes the eventual replacement of all fluids. Period. If you use your vehicle for any length of time, certain fluids will break down, lose their viscosity, become dirty from particulates, become acidic, etc.

How long the fluids’ lifetime lasts is dependent upon several things:

  • The make and model of your vehicle.
  • The amount of mileage on your vehicle.
  • If you drive long or short distances.
  • If your vehicles is driven hard, like in stop-and-go traffic, hard and fast around corners, etc.

In short, if you don’t change these fluids preemptively, then the fluid’s lifetime will certainly dictate the lifetime of your vehicle – which could be as low as 100,000 miles.

If you would like to discuss the best fluid options for your vehicle and driving habits, contact one of our experienced technicians at Central Avenue Automotive. You can give us a call at (253) 854-6762, or schedule an appointment using our convenient online appointment booking service. You can also come into our repair shop, located at 1514 Central Ave. Kent, Washington 98032.