My friend is very odd: this thread about durability comparison between automatic/manual durability meant to him that manual is always better option because you can learn to change the clutch and only reason why people sell so many automatic-transmission cars is because the automatic-transmission box needs to be soon replaced. My other friend said that changing the clutch is better done with a professional mechanic because you often need to open the half of the motor. Now I am trying to find ways to judge whether an automatic gearbox is in good condition or not.

How can I judge the condition of the automatic-transmission box? How often should an automatic-transmission box be changed? Any simple rules of thumbs like every 200k km a new gearbox?

2 Answers 2


You'd typically only replace an automatic transmission if it failed. Signs that an automatic transmission needs work are:

  • Slipping -- the engine revs unusually high for the speed the vehicle is traveling.
  • Hard shifts -- the transmission abruptly "slams" into the next gear.
  • Delayed shifts -- the transmission doesn't shift until the engine is almost at redline.

One thing to check when looking at a car is to pull the dipstick for the transmission and smell it. If the fluid smells burnt, it's a good sign there's a problem with the transmission.


You're over thinking this. You only need to replace an automatic transmission if it breaks or otherwise works very poorly, starts to slip, etc. For the most part, it either works or it doesn't.

  • Would it be fair to say that in most cases a transmission is unlikely to fail in such fashion as to damage anything else in the car, someone who subscribes to a towing service and is willing to risk being stranded could keep using the transmission until the car won't move, without increasing the cost of repairs once they're required.
    – supercat
    Commented Feb 22, 2015 at 23:24

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