Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Is a transmission flush necessary?

I have a 2009 Honda Civic with 60,000 miles. I was told by a mechanic that I should have a transmission flush, which was a pricey procedure at $200. My question is should I do the flush or would a simple fluid change of the automatic transmission be sufficient? The Civic manual makes no mention of a transmisson flush.

A fluid change would be just fine. I wouldn’t recommend a flush.


With Honda a transmission fluid change (not a flush) is recommended every 30,000 miles. And use only Honda transmission fluid!!! The dealer’s charge is too high. This service (flush) should not be more than $100 or so. Auto chains advertise this for as little as $45!

Honda transmissions are not the most robust and regular fluid changes are essential for long life.

Make sure what the dealer actually quoted you in writing.


In fairness at the chains, that’s often a flush done with a power-flush machine, and as several news exposes have shown over the years, it’s often not actually performed.

I do agree that it should be around $100, though.

We’ve owned 2 Accords with well over 300k miles on original tranny’s. One over 400k miles. Change fluid every 50k miles.

Never flush a transmission.

1 Like

Ever since people discovered that draining and refilling an automatic transmission only replaces about 2/3 of the fluid, dealerships and repair shops have been buying transmission flush machines to satisfy their customers’ OCD. Now they need those machines to generate enough income to cover the payments on those machines, so they recommend transmission flushes every chance they get.

If you read your owner’s manual, I think you’ll find in the maintenance section a recommendation to change (just drain and refill) the transmission fluid every so often, probably every 60,000 miles, and that’s all you really need. If you want to get all OCD about it, you can do it more often than the owner’s manual recommends (like every 30,000 miles instead of every 60,000 miles), but you still don’t need a flush, just a drain-and-refill.

Frankly, these flush machines are getting out of hand. The last time I asked a shop to drain and refill my car’s coolant, they said they don’t do that anymore; they only do flushing. I went ahead and let them flush-and-fill my car’s cooling system, but next time I’ll just drain and refill it myself, like I do with my motorcycle.

You can sure tell who the amateurs are on this board, and still believe in the urban myths.


I think the problem is that “flush” can mean “we force the new fluid into the transmission with this pump as fast as we can stuff it in there to turn the car over quicker” or it can mean “we hook an exchanger in-line and let the transmission’s own pump do the work.”

And as I noted, the other problem is that it’s not unheard of for chain shops to show you that shiny Motorvac machine and say it’ll change your fluid for only $45, and then have you sit in the waiting room while the car sits in the bay untouched by said machine.

What does that have to do with the fact that a transmission flushes are now a common service procedure, and recommended by the manufactures


Does the 2011 Honda CRV have a filter or screen that needs to be changed?

Because I don’t want people force-flushing my transmission? The factory service manual for my car calls for a drain and fill. Not a flush. I’m OK with fluid exchange using the transmission’s pump mainly because it’s hard to find anywhere that just does a drain and fill anymore, but I don’t want someone hooking a bilge pump up to the thing. I don’t think that’s unreasonable.

It’s interesting that I don’t find the word “flush” anywhere on the 2009 Honda Civic’s maintenance schedule. What are the chances that the uncredited author of your article knows more about this topic than Honda?

I can sure tell who thinks his opinion is gospel, and characterizes the opinions of others as “urban myths.”

In fairness to @Tester, I don’t think he’s wrong provided the “flush” is as described in the article he cited, and not the Jiffy Lube-style flush where they just blast fluid into the tranny and hope they don’t get sued.

The point in my reply to him was that “flush” can mean 2 different procedures, one of which can be harmful to the car, and so if someone says “don’t ever flush your transmission,” they might be referring to the bad version.

As far Honda transmissions, Honda states, “If a vehicle is properly maintained, there is absolutely no benefit to flushing the transmission as a maintenance procedure.”

The OP has 60,000 miles on the transmission fluid. Does that sound like it was properly maintained?


If, indeed, transmission flushes are being recommended by manufacturers, and not just the dealerships, I’d like to know:

  1. Is Honda among them? If not, it doesn’t belong in this conversation.

  2. When did/will these instructions make their way into owner’s manuals and maintenance schedules?

  3. Who is the uncredited author of the article @Tester cited? Unless it’s someone whose credentials surpass those of the Magliozzi brothers, whose advice coincides with mine (I guess they believe urban myths too), why isn’t there a byline on the article? Could it be that the articles on that site are just bait to sell merchandise? Scrutinizing the website, it appears that selling merchandise is the site’s real purpose.

According to Honda’s maintenance schedule for this car, yes, that sounds like it was properly maintained, because Honda recommends the first transmission fluid change at 60,000 miles.

Good for you for using your car’s maintenance schedule as a resource. You just saved yourself $200. (Actually, you saved yourself $200 minus the cost of a drain-and-refill, which you should do.)

1 Like

What are your credentials @Whitey?

How many years of expeirence as a mechanic do you hve under your belt?


I don’t know about the newer ones. My '07 does not recommend a flush. Buy me a newer one and I’ll report back? :smiley:

In fairness, a drain and fill is all you have to do per the service manual. That does not mean that a “flush” as described in Tester’s article (which I think should be called an “exchange” to avoid confusion) should not be performed - merely that it’s above and beyond what you are required to do to properly maintain it.

My manual recommends the first drain/fill at 50k, and every 30k thereafter. I’m guessing the shortened interval after the first time is to account for the fact that not all fluid gets exchanged in a drain and fill (and I could probably extend my exchanges to 50k intervals as a result, but I don’t).

I can see some significant legal pitfalls if the manual called for a flush, because then someone would go to Jiffy Lube, get the bad flush, their transmission would have problems, and then they’d sue Honda because “well you TOLD me to get a flush!”

The way the manual is worded now, if you take it in for a fluid exchange, and they flush it, and it wrecks the transmission and you sue Honda, Honda can say “we did not tell you to get a flush - sue Jiffy Lube.”

1 Like