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Need transmission opinions

I have a 2001 Kia Optima with 113,000 miles. During a recent oil change, the mechanic said I needed my transmission flushed because the fluid was thick and dark. I don’t think I’ve ever had it done, so I figured he was probably right. As I was calling around checking for prices, one guy told me they don’t recommend having it done at this point, since it’s never been done, because it could just stir up sludge and cause problems I didn’t have before. He also said my car would require Kia-specific transmission fluid and I should get it serviced by the dealer. Thoughts?

since it’s never been done, because it could just stir up sludge and cause problems

Find someone else. That old wife’s tail comes from all the people who don’t follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and drive 113,000 miles on the original fluid and soon after they change it, maybe 30% have a failure. The reason for the failure is the failure to change it when they should have and the damage was already done.

In your case if you are not having any noticeable drive ability problems, then you may be lucky and a fluid CHANGE or two, could keep the old transmission going another 50,000 miles.

I recommend having a change, not a flush and I would suggest having one done now (making sure they clean the filter and the pan) and maybe another in say 5,000 miles.

Neither a change or a flush gets all the fluid changed, but in my book two changes like that along with filter cleaning (flushes don’t get the filter cleaned) are better than a flush, which will get more fluid change on one shot.

Mr Meehan covered the aspect of changing vs not changing. I fall into the “change it if is discolored, etc” school of thought. In this case, I would do a pan drop & fluid change now and about 10000 miles later, in hopes of better diluting the neglected fluid. If it looks OK, then I would start a 30K miles regimen.

As to ATF: Your vehicle requires SP-III ATF, which is a Mitsubishi proprietary fluid used in Kias, Hyundais and Mitsubishis. I would buy the Kia fluid, unless one of the other two brands are much cheaper. These are dealer-only fluids and the aftermarket has no exact equivalents, to my understanding. Any good garage can get these fluids, but depending on where you live, it may require some pre-planning on the part of your mechanic, and certainly, a dealer will have the item available without any supply problems – your choice.