Transmission Fluid Change and Strut Questions

Hello, I have 2 questions regarding my 2013 Mazda 3: I took it to the dealership for some factory recall repairs and they did an evaluation on my car and recommended some things to be done. I don’t know what to do about a couple of the recommendations:

  1. Transmission Fluid Change ??: Dealership said transmission fluid is dirty and needs changing, also said that it had a “burnt” smell to it. A mechanic at another shop told me if a car has over 100,000 miles on it and never had the transmission fluid changed before (which is the case with me) they would not change it as it could screw up my transmission. So, what do I do - Don’t change it or change it? My mileage is about 102,000 miles.

  2. Struts Replaced: Dealership said passenger strut was leaking and recommended getting both replaced. The cost would be about 980.00 (my question is - is that a fair price).??

Thank you so much, I appreciate your expert advice.

On the transmission fluid service you have two choices.

Don’t change the fluid and let the transmission burn up.

Or change the fluid, and know you did everything you could to prevent the transmission from burning up.

AS far as prices go, enter your information here,

and it’ll give you some idea on costs.



If it is dirty or burnt a new filter ( if equipped) along with a drain and fill will not hurt your transmission.

Since it is out of warranty you could check with an independent, not chain, shop to check your struts and change the transmission fluid.
Ask friends/family for advice on mechanics. You can check “Mechanics Files” from the homepage at Cartalk. Also check yelp reviews.


Thanks to all, your input / opinions helped with my decision.

What is your decision ?

I’d get a second opinion on the leaking strut. It’s diagnosed more often than it occurs.


Does your car even have a transmission dipstick? Many cars built after the mid 2000’s do not have one, and if it does not have one, it is very unlikely they even checked the fluid at all.

I’d get a second opinion on the strut too. Unless the roads around you are in very bad shape, it is not likely that the struts would be bad.

Last time I took my Subaru in for a recall, they gave me a list of things that needed attention ASAP. I had been sitting in the waiting room for quite awhile and they gave essentially the same list to everyone. Everyone was told they needed new rear brake pads and a new cabin air filter. I had just had new tires put on and checked my brakes at that time and I had just installed a new cabin air filter. I was having the airbag replaced so I don’t know why they would be checking the brakes.


I’m going to get the transmission fluid replaced, and I can wait a little bit on the struts but will take it to a local auto shop as they quoted me about 300 dollars less and they have a good reputation in my area.


I did not mean to imply that getting your ATF changed was unnecessary. It is a good idea for a vehicle with your years and miles and it will only help, not hurt. I was only trying to point out that you should not panic when the service advisor tries to sell you more services, but do get second opinions. That is just good business sense. Posting here was also a good idea.

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Smart choice on ATF!

On struts:

First of all, worn struts (including ones low on oil) is not even a convenience, but safety issue: as you drive on uneven road, with worn struts your wheel[s] bounce up and down (even if you do not feel it much) and when the emergency stop situation comes, your stop distance may be waaaaay longer than ideal, so it is not the issue you want to defer long time.

Still, strutus can have a “real leak” or they can have “oil seepage”, where the second one is lesser of concern and can give you some time to defer the replacement (sometimes years).

To tell if you have one or another, you ask a targeted question to your trusted mechanic OR check YouTube for a simple “shocks bounce test”, it helps to determine if you have the urgent issue or kinda developing problem.

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$980 for 2 struts is ridiculous. Doing all 4 should be less than that . Front struts for the mazda 3 with the spring and shock is $90 or less a piece . So you have a couple hundred in parts . Even at $100 an hour labor rate it should not take more than 3 hours for the labor . It would probably be another $100 for a front end alignment after that . The transmission shouldnt be too bad either, Mazda was actually smart enough to put a drain plug in the tranny pan so it makes it a lot easier and less messy . Undo the bolts on the tranny pan and pull and the filter just pulls out .

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I replaced one strut on my neighbor’s car under warranty, the bill was $482, paid for by the manufacture.

Please clarify

Are you suggesting that shops are outright lying through their teeth . . . ?!

Are you suggesting that shops are saying struts are leaking, when in fact they’re in perfect shape . . . ?!

I see plenty of leaking shocks and struts

seems to me you’re thinking of “quick struts” of merely average quality. No shop is going to sell “quick struts” for that low price you’re mentioning. If they did, they’d be driving themselves out of business

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seems to me you’re thinking of “quick struts” of merely average quality. No shop is going to sell “quick struts” for that low price you’re mentioning. If they did, they’d be driving themselves out of business.

Please don’t speak to my mechanic, he’s perfectly willing to install parts I bring with me.
( I only do that when the online price is half or less than local retail for the same part.)
Yes he probably bumps his labor rate a little to make up for the profit he’d make on the parts, but OTOH, now he doesn’t have to guarantee the part.

I’ve had “quick struts” on one car, they were perfectly adequate, especially since most people with older cars don’t hit the 12-15,000 miles/year that the “average” driver does.
Many times average quality is sufficient. If I don’t travel at high speed [over 110mph] , why should I buy H rated tires, let alone “V” or “W” rated tires?

Where did you get that stats? What do you consider an older car? My wife has been averaging 20k miles for the past 5 years on her 12yo Lexus.

If you had V rated tires and switched to S, there would be noticeably handling differences. The higher the letter the less sidewall flex. There are tire shops that won’t sell you a tire that different then the OEM tire (lower or higher).

Your wife averaging 20k miles/year is too small of a sample to give any indication of what the average driver does. Let’s ask a few hundred, or thousand people, chosen at random.

Yes an S rated tire might not be suitable, or it might be fine, depends on the driver, and where he drives. All-city driving, rubber-bands might work, LoL.
On a 4-door sedan like mine (top speed 130mph) H rated tires (Continuous speed of 130mph) would be sufficient, how long are you ping to run your car at its top speed?. Tires with “V” rating can do 149mph continuously, buddy of mine and I drove a few hundred miles of Nevada desert in a BMW, at 110-120mph, don’t think either of us would do it again. “W” rated tires can (supposedly) run at 168mph all day in high-summer heat. Shrug.

You seem to be focusing only on the “speed” aspect . . . while seemingly ignoring the fact that it also has to do with handling

suit yourself

Maybe some of the others can chime in here . . .

What would happen if you had an accident, and it was determined that you KNOWINGLY had tires installed that were the incorrect speed rating . . . ?!


Plaintiff’s attorney would have a ball with that.


I’m just rebutting your claim. You’re the one who came with the stats. Show me your data. Don’t make any data claims if you can’t back it up.

I never made any judgement on if it would be suitable or not. All I said was that the vehicle is going to handle different from one tire rating to the next. The problem arises when you try to drive the vehicle the same with different rated tires.

Average is: 13,476

TTYL :smile: