Change ATF based on Time Interval?

My 1986 VW Vanagon speciifies an auto. trans fluid change every 30,000 miles. But I only use it for summer camping, so that works out to about once every 10 years.

Should I change it every few years no matter how low the mileage? If so, how many years?

Pick a number between three and five and you may have it covered, or is that four and six? Then put years after the number. You would have a good automatic transmission if it goes for the 30,000 years.

Geeze! 30,000 years? I hope I’m around by then.

If you mean every 30,000 miles, think of transmission fluid as like oil. Because that’s all it is.The more it’s used the more it breaks down.

If you don’t drive the vehicle much, then change the fluid every 60,000 miles.


Here is my personal take. Because the biggest failure will occur due to temperature, and all transmission fluids when used will be subjected to some heat and break down, even slightly, over time if they sit a lot, the accumulated varnish, even in smal quantities has a chance to work. So IMHO, I feel there should be a time factor involved. How much, the great “Carnack” cannot say. But, I would not wait the full mileage if it were say, ten years and do as suggested and change at a sooner interval. I don’t think 5 years is unreasonable. But, if the body integrity is compromising over time just sitting there, it is important you take that into account. Will you really be keeping this vehicle ten years from now or junking it…? At some point it’s an antique and I would not trust it for recreational use…maybe even now.

yes, 30,000 miles - I do plan to keep the vehicle a long time…

what about moisture accumulation in ATF?