Modern transmissions
can easily last the life
of your vehicle
changing transmission
fluid as recommended
is most important
 

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Transmission fluid
should be changed while doing the 30,000 mile inspection.

Changed again each 30,000 miles or about every two years

Automatic Transmission Fluids

Automatic transmission fluids must perform many demanding functions.
These include helping transfer power from the engine to the transmission via way of the torque converter,  hydraulic fluid for the control system inside the transmission, a heat transfer medium to help maintain proper transmission temperature, a lubricant and  energy transfer medium for bands and clutches. Because of these demands we recommend fluid changes at about every 30,000 miles or the factory recommended mileage for severe conditions. Transmissions withstand the torture of summer heat and winters slip and sliding.
Not to many years ago only two types of automatic transmission fluids were used. Type 'A' was used in General Motors vehicles and Type 'F' in Ford.
Today the specifications change from year to year and by manufacturer. Consult your owners manual or a shop manual if in doubt.
Modern ATF typically contains a wide variety of chemical compounds intended to provide the required properties of a particular ATF specification. Most ATFs contain some combination of additives that improve lubricating qualities such as anti-wear additives, rust and corrosion inhibitors, detergents, dispersants and surfactants (which protect and clean metal surfaces); kinematic viscosity and viscosity index improvers and modifiers, seal swell additives and agents (which extend the rotational speed range and temperature range of the additives' application); anti-foam additives and anti-oxidation compounds to inhibit oxidation and "boil-off" (which extends the life of the additives' application); cold-flow improvers, high-temperature thickeners, gasket conditioners, pour point depressant and petroleum dye. All ATFs contain friction modifiers, except for those ATFs specified for some
Ford transmissions

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_transmission_fluid