Transmission- To service or not to service?

I recently bought a used 2001 Kia Spectra from a private seller.

To the sellers knowledge she has never had the transmission serviced. I have not noticed any burning smells off of the transmission dipstick The color of the fluid is red, not a vibrant red but a decent red- maybe a bit of a dingy red. I have had the car for about three weeks and the transmission has slipped only once. Other than that it shifts well and does what I need it to do.

The seller bought it from carmax in 07 at about 70k miles. It now has about 105k miles.

So I ask, would it be wise to go ahead and replace the transmission fluid/filter or leave it as is?


There’s no downside to servicing the trans. Anyone who tells you otherwise is someone who (or knew someone who) waited until their trans was malfunctioning to service it …it fails like it was going to anyway …then they conclude that servicing it caused the failure.

Do a full fluid change via the cooler lines. Very easy to do. Consider using Auto-Rx before exchanging the fluid. Google it.

Gary (geeaea) got it right.

There are many people who believe that changing the fluid can cause problems. It is true that many transmission fail shortly after a fluid change. But the reason so many fail after a fluid change is the owner never even thought of changing the fluid until they started having problems and then when it fails shortly after the change, they blame it on the change, not their lack of maintenance before damage was done.

Yes change the fluid and filter for long transmission life… When the fluid looks rusty and smells bad it would likely be too late already.

Thanks a bunch guys for your input! I REALLY appreciate it and will be doing this very soon.


Change it now. But slipping “only once” is still a bad sign, so good luck.

"Gary (geeaea) got it right. "

geeaea got it right except for one (2?) thing. Do not just do a fluid exchange via the cooler lines. Someone needs to drop the pan, inspect and clean it and the filter needs to be replaced. If you then want ALL of the fluid changed a fluid exchange can be done AFTER a clean pan & filter.

I also think that geeaea must own stock or something in AutoRX since it seems to get suggested for anything from transmission problems to reattaching rear view mirrors (ok I made that one up but s/he suggests it for all sorts of things). I would not use any kind of additive. But you MUST be sure to use the right fluid. Your best bet would be a local independent transmission shop (i.e. NOT a corporate chain transmission shop).

Not only should you get the fluid changed, you should have the pan dropped and the filter cleaned.

If you are lucky, it is only slipping because the fluid is a little low.

Unhook the battery to reset the computer while or after you do the fluid change.