Best way to change transmission fluid

Well I bought my 2002 Kia mini van last week. While looking in the glove compartment I found some of the paper work from work done on the car by the previous owner, even incluiding the original loan papers on it. I am pretty secure feeling this was a one owner van. I got the oil changed this weekend and need to change out the transmission fluid next. My question, last time I had this done to a car of mine was about 8 years ago, and it was on a older Cutlass Supreme. I went to AAMCO and they droped the pan and did a full drain and new screen. However when I talked with the place I had the oil changed this weekend, they didn’t seem to think with newer cars that was needed. What they do is kinda like suck out that old and put in new for about $99. I went to the dealership just to ask them and they also agreed that a pan drop and such wasn’t needed, that a suck would work. They offered a basic suck for $99 or a super clean and suck for $169. The mini van has 134,000 miles on it and needs to have the transmission fluid changed, what is the best option in cars/mini vans today?

Everyone who bought the “sucking” machine wants to keep it running and profitable. With any luck the forums foremost transmission Guru will give you a more model specific recommendation but for most cars dropping the pan and replacing the filter should be done on a regular basis. But check back here occasionally for a reply from Transman.

Most of us here I believe will recommend draining, dropping the pan, cleaning the screen and then reassemble it and refill.

Most newer cars no longer call for an only change before at least 100,000 miles, but I believe most of us are going to agree that 25,000 to 40,000 is a better idea.

However if transman leaves a message, follow his advice. He knows the specific problems some cars have.

Does your transmission have a drain plug? If so, I would just get it drained and refilled. This won’t replace all of the fluid, but draining and refilling your oil doesn’t replace all of it either. If you want to satisfy your inner OCD, you could do two drain-and-refills in relatively close succession or pay the $99. I think the $169 service is probably overkill.

I am not sure if the Kia mini van has a drain plug on the transmission or not. The transmission is running fine, but the fluid does look like it needs to be changed and the van does have 135,000 miles on it.

See if you feel confident on unhooking a trans cooler line to the rad. Also see how easy it is to add it. I have to assume that it has a dipstick. Total fill on that trans is allegedly 9 quarts. Running 12 quarts through it should give you above 90% new fluid in there.

I have a hard time putting gas in, I leave things like this to the professionals, that way if something goes wrong I ahve someone to go after.

In that case, stop going to AAMCO. See if you can find a good independent mechanic to do a drain-and-refill. He or she can tell you if the transmission has a drain plug.

Is there something wrong with AAMCO? I have been once to have the pan dropped and cleaned and a new screen put in and had zero problems.

That experience would be the exception.
I think that the more typical experience is that they cause more problems than they solve, and that the almost always say the transmission has to be replaced.

My general mechanic doesn’t do transmission work and I think the dealership is a bit pricey, so how do you find a good transmission person to do this changing of the fluid?

AAMCO has a pretty bad reputation. The feedback we get from customers in this forum indicates they frequently replace transmissions that only needed a minor repair and that they don’t do a very good job of honoring their warranties.

Check out the Mechanics files at or ask around. You can also try the yellow pages for independent transmission shops.

“Is there something wrong with AAMCO?”

Maybe. But maybe not. All shops are run by someone, and franchise, chain, or indy shops can be run by a crook. The AAMCO shop you dealt with may be just fine. I use Jiffy Lube to change my fluids. It is one, specific shop and they have done a good job for me for the past 10 years. I have also been to a couple of JL’s that I would not go back to. If the transmission fluid has not been changed in a while, either the pan drop/screen clean or just a fluid drain should be fine. Just don’t let them do a fluid flush.

I really want to know the difference between the “Basic suck” and the “Super clean and suck” Thats a new one to me. If I remember right on this transmission there is a spin on filter because the internal filter is not accessable with the trans in the vehicle. I would just drain and refill and change the spin on filter now and every 25-30k miles. Well, dn, did the taurus finally die??


It was dying, oil and water were mixing so I figure best to trade out while I still could. I paid $450 and got $300 in trade, so i figured I came out okay. The dealership said the basic suck just removed the fluid and they replaced it, the super suck was a proccess where then really flushed it out and made sure all the old bad fluid was gone. Also, the transmission dip stick on this mini van has no markings on it, have you ever seen a dip stick with no markings on it? lastly, for a basic drain, what is a fair price?

For a basic drain-and-refill, you should pay $40-60.

So far the cheapest for a drain and refill as been $80. One of the transmission shops i have spoken with said they don’t do that method as it can put a strain on seals and such. They chose to drop the pan, clean out the fluid and replace the filter for $120.