Changing CVT transmission cost is typically more expensive than regular transmission fluid. It can cost you around $130 to $300 including the fluid and labor cost for changing the fluid in a CVT transmission.
However, the costs can vary quite a lot based on how you change the fluid, what fluid you use and whether labor cost is a concern or not. So, let’s get into the details of how much CVT transmission fluid change costs based on different scenarios.
What’s the Cost of Changing the CVT Transmission Fluid?
Cutting right to the chase, changing your CVT transmission fluid can cost about $15 to $30 per quart. In comparison to other transmission fluids for automatic transmissions, it’s a fairly pricey fluid.
Generally, most cars require about 6 quarts of CVT transmission fluid at a time. Whenever you change the transmission fluid, it will be for around 4 -6 quarts.
So, the price of fluid alone can come to around $60 to $180. And then, you add the labor cost to it as well, which can range from $70 to $120 depending on the service and location.
Now, these are just some general numbers and may not work in your case because plenty of factors affect the cost of transmission fluid for a CVT transmission.
Which Factors Can Affect the Cost of CVT Fluid Change?
Knowing about these factors can be very helpful. Because there are some factors that will help you reduce the total cost of changing CVT fluids.
Let’s discuss the factors affecting the cost of a fluid change for a CVT transmission.
Crucial Factor 1: Method of Changing the Fluid
The method you choose for changing your CVT fluid, can help you reduce the cost or, in some cases, increase the cost. Usually, there are three methods to change the CVT transmission fluid.
First of all, you can do it yourself. It’s the cheapest way to change the fluid because you won’t have to pay for labor. And honestly, labor costs are pretty high these days.
Another method is to opt for dealerships. You can contact your car dealership to change the fluid.
The good thing about choosing a dealership is that the process is extremely professional. And the quality of the fluid is top-notch.
However, it can be quite expensive due to the high labor costs of the dealership and the price of the CVT transmission fluid they use.
Oil Changing Shops
On the other hand, you can try out an oil change shop. Their service won’t be as good as a dealership’s, and the fluid they use may be unreliable. But their labor costs are relatively lower than dealerships.
So, whichever method you choose, it will impact the cost of the whole thing. If we had to suggest, we would consider changing it yourself to save about $50 to $200 on labor costs.
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Crucial Factor 2: The Brand and Model of Your Car
Another factor affecting the cost of changing the fluid is your car’s brand. Some brands require specialized CVT fluid, which costs much more than regular CVT fluid.
Additionally, depending on the make and model of your car, the cost of the service you choose will vary. Different car makes and models will need a fluid change at various mileage levels.
For example, if you drive a Subaru, they recommend changing the fluid after 60k miles. A different car will have different requirements and costs.
Crucial Factor 3: CVT Fluid Types
When it comes to CVT fluids, you usually get three types of fluids. This is also a factor where you can make different choices to reduce costs. The three types of fluids are –
These are the types of fluids that are safest to use. If you have no idea which CVT fluid you should pick, OEM-grade fluids should be fine.
It won’t have any bad impact on your transmission. For example, there are Toyota CVT fluids and Nissan CVT Fluids.
Universal Transmission Fluid
Now, if you want to save money and get lower prices on your CVT fluid, go with universal transmission fluids.
They are easily available, and they don’t cost too much either. However, you must find the correct fluid compatible with your car, or it can damage your transmission.
Special Grade CVT Fluid
Special-grade CVT fluids are the most expensive CVT transmission fluids you can get. They are of the best quality, and they provide you with the best service you can expect.
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Crucial Factors 4: CVT Fluid Brands
Some brands can have higher prices, whereas others will have lower prices. Also, there will be a difference in the quality of fluids.
For example, Toyota CVT fluids are a bit cheaper than Nissan CVT fluids. So, if your car is compatible with Toyota fluids, you can choose them over Nissan to save some money.
Crucial Factors 5: Longevity of the Fluid
Just looking at the cost may not be helpful because low-priced fluids can also have low longevity.
If the CVT fluid doesn’t last long before you replace it, the total cost can still get pretty high.
Crucial Factors 6: Quantity of CVT Fluid
Last but not least, how much CVT fluid you need and how often you need it also determine the cost. If you just want to refill the transmission, a small amount should do.
You can save money that way. But you must spend more money if you want to completely replace the fluid.
Typically, 6 quarts of CVT transmission fluid are needed for most cars at a time.
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When Do You Need to Change Your CVT Transmission Fluid?
Of course, the best time to change your CVT transmission fluid is to follow the recommendation in the owner’s manual of your car.
In general, for CVT transmissions, it’s better to change your fluid more frequently.
Don’t just wait for the fluid to wear out, change it beforehand. Typically, doing it every 25 000 to 60 000 miles is good. It’s even better if you can do it earlier.
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How to Change CVT Transmission Fluid?
As discussed earlier, changing the CVT transmission fluid yourself is the best way to reduce costs. You can save over $100 in the DIY process of changing CVT transmission fluid.
That’s why we share the steps you can follow to change the CVT transmission fluid in your car.
Before you even start, make sure to get the right CVT fluid. Also, check the fluid level and condition to see if you need to change the fluid or not. Here is the step-by-step process to change the fluid –
Step-1: Warm Up Your Car
First, you have to drain the old CVT fluid. To do that, drive your car for a while to get the fluid within 50-to-80-degree Celsius temperature.
Step-2: Get Under the Car
You can use hydraulic jacks or ramps to lift your car and reach under it. Then, locate the drain plug of your car.
Step-3: Loosen the Drain Plug and Drain the Fluids
Now, you must loosen the drain plug nut and collect the fluids. You can use a cup or a drain pan to hold that fluid.
Once you have drained all the fluid successfully, you can close the plug with a new gasket.
Step-4: Measure the Fluid
At this point, you must measure the fluid you just drained from your car. Doing that is necessary because you will be refilling the same amount of new CVT fluid.
Step-5: Refill the Fluid
To refill the fluids, you need to use a clean funnel. Place it on the charging pipe and start pouring the new fluid through the funnel.
Step-6: Check the Fluid
Once you have filled the same amount of fluid, you can stop. Then, check the fluid level while keeping them at a cold temperature. It’s okay if the level is slightly high because it will settle down eventually.
Next up, check the fluid levels when they are hot. You can follow the same thing you did in the beginning.
Drive your car for a while and warm up the fluid. Then, check the fluid levels. If you think it needs a bit more fluid, you can add a little more.
To make things easier for you, here is a video explaining the whole process of a Nissan Altima with a CVT transmission.
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We have yet to give you all the nits and grits. Here, we will answer some frequently asked questions that might interest you about CVT fluid changes. Make sure to check them out for some more helpful information.
Does using the wrong CVT fluid damage the transmission?
Yes, if you use the wrong or incompatible CVT fluid in your car transmission, it will have issues. There will be performance issues, or it will damage the CVT transmission entirely. That’s why we always use the fluid that the manufacturers recommend.
Can I flush the fluid on a CVT transmission myself?
No, it’s better to leave the flushing of CVT fluid to the professionals. Flushing the fluid requires special tools, and it’s much more technical. Many things can go wrong if you don’t have the technical expertise in auto mechanics.
Is it okay to use ATF on a CVT transmission?
Not at all. ATF is used in an automatic transmission, which has different functionality from the CVT transmission. When you use ATF in a CVT transmission, it can completely damage the transmission beyond any repairs. You will have to replace the transmission at that point.
Hopefully, we helped you find out how much a CVT transmission fluid change costs. With this knowledge, you can probably decide on your best solution.
One last helpful tip for you is to always compare the prices of different CVT fluids. A well-researched extensive shopping list of fluids can save you a lot of money.
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