When a customer needs an ATF change


Your customers depend on you to keep their transmissions running smoothly. Here are a few things customers need to know about their ATF service and a checklist of things you can do to keep business strong.

Service is clearly needed

If the transmission shifts badly during a test drive, with sticking, slipping or flare, it’s clear that an ATF is needed to lubricate parts and restore performance. And if you notice that the ATF is darkened or has a burnt smell, that’s also a good indicator that an ATF change is needed.

Dealing with “fill for life”

Many customers have heard that ATFs are “fill for life.” Customers will quickly understand that there are many definitions to “fill for life,” and that it may mean the life of the warranty, not the vehicle.

The risks of high mileage

Caution customers against changing ATF on a high-mileage vehicle—say 85,000 or 100,000 miles. Changing the ATF can stir up particulate in the transmission, interfering with the gears, and then the only repair option is a full rebuild.

Weighing the expense

Sure, an ATF change is more complicated than an oil change and takes more time. But they’ll understand that the $95 or so is a lot cheaper than repairing or replacing a transmission.

Remember, you’re doing the right thing

When you tell your customer you use only OEM-licensed ATFs that are equivalent to factory fluids, they’ll appreciate that you’re doing the right thing. They’ll also like that bundling the ATF change with an oil change saves them time and money.

ATF Service Checklist

  • Review customer ATF service history
  • Test drive vehicle
  • Perform multipoint inspection
  • Report findings to customer and note recommended services
  • Suggest service options
  • Perform service now (if needed) to prevent damage
  • Perform service later and risk potential problems
  • Thoroughly explain your service procedure and costs
  • Compare service charges to cost of a transmission rebuild
  • Inform customer that you use OEM-licensed fluids better or equal to factory fluids
  • Offer your customer a bundled service deal or coupons to seal the deal