Reviews

Best Transmission Filters: Keep Your Vehicle Running Smoothly

Transmission filters are just as important as the transmission and should be picked carefully

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BY Daniel Rika , Jason Collins / LAST UPDATED ON November 21, 2019

The transmission is one of the most important parts of a vehicle. Without it, a vehicle cannot move. Transmission filters work by catching excess fluids and filtering out debris and contaminants before they enter the transmission. Finding the right transmission filter is essential to proper vehicle operation. Check out the best transmission filters on the market.

Best Overall
ACDelco Professional Automatic Transmission Fluid Filter Starter Kit
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Summary
Summary

The ACDelco transmission fluid filter kit is very popular among GM car owners and mechanics. It features an air-tight seal, felt filters, and fiber filters infused with resin.

Pros
Pros
  • Transmission filter comes in a kit equipped with everything needed to get the job done
  • Includes the filter itself and the tube filter seal
  • Filter is the same as GM’s original filters and will stay in place once installed
Cons
Cons
  • Different size variations,
  • Deep pan is not even across the bottom as one side is deeper than the other.
Best Overall
ACDelco Professional Automatic Transmission Fluid Filter Starter Kit
Best Value
Allison External Spin-On Filter
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Summary
Summary

The Allison external spin-on filters are leak-proof and made specifically for certain GM trucks for a perfect fit each time.

Pros
Pros
  • Genuine Allison filters are comparable to ACDelco filters except they’re half the price
  • Filters use a high-quality magnet and are expected to last up to three years
Cons
Cons
  • Comes with a magnetic disk, which you may inadvertently throw out, forcing you to order a new one. This problem is easily avoidable with other types of filters. 
Best Value
Allison External Spin-On Filter
Honorable Mention
Motorcraft FT-114 Screen Assy
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Summary
Summary

The Motorcraft transmission filter is a factory original made for a direct fit and easy installation. It is best for Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury vehicles. It features high-quality materials for long-lasting endurance.

Pros
Pros
  • Filter is made from durable metals designed for longevity and to prevent abrasiveness and corrosive moisture from entering the vehicle
  • Product features 20 bolt holes for a perfect factory fit every time.
Cons
Cons
  • Motorcraft transmission filter does not come equipped with other materials needed to change the filter, such as a gasket.
Honorable Mention
Motorcraft FT-114 Screen Assy

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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Benefits of Transmission Filters 

  • Removes contaminants. Your car’s gears can wear out because of constant friction between the parts, resulting in metal shavings in the transmission fluid. A transmission filter will sift out the dirt and metal shavings in the transmission fluid and stop them from causing problems to your car. Additionally, a transmission filter has an air-tight seal that will block the dirt and foreign particles that can get inside the transmission fluid. 
  • Smooth gearing. If you cannot change gears easily when driving, it means that your car’s transmission filter is not working correctly. A quality filter removes the sudden surge in power that you experience whenever you are changing your car’s gears, making your driving smoother.
  • Reduced noise. Sometimes your car can change the sound it produces whenever you start the engine. This is an indication that the transmission fluid has been contaminated with dirt. Changing the engine oil and acquiring a new oil filter system removes the rattling sound and makes your driving smooth.
  • Reduces leakage. The transmission fluid can easily leak if the car’s transmission system has a problem. Putting the right oil filter in the transmission system permanently removes the fluid leakages, enhancing fuel economy. With a new transmission filter kit, you can install a new pan gasket and seals to stop the transmission fluid from leaking. Additionally, you will remove the burning smell and smoke that comes out of your car’s exhaust.

Types of Transmission Filters 

Automatic

These are the most common aftermarket transmission filters because they are compatible with many automobile transmission systems. These filters are lighter and easy to install in your car. Most of them are compatible with transmission systems from different motor brands. They are also the most affordable types compared to other high-tech transmission filters. However, their efficiency in terms of contaminant removal is a bit compromised.

Diesel Engine Fuel

These motor oil transmission filters are designed with Aquabloc technology, which ensures sifting of water from fuel. They are suitable for 6.0- to 6.4-liter engines. They come with the highest water and dust removal capacity, up to 96 percent. These types of motor oil filters can remove small particles (about 10 microns) from the transmission fluid with higher efficiency. Most of these filters are recommended for Ford engines.

Engine Vent

These are transmission filters explicitly designed to remove the contaminants within the engine vent. They are a bit expensive compared to most fuel filters. They have the highest filtration efficiency and are a bit lighter. They come in different models based on the type of car engine.

Top Brands 

Motorcraft 

Motorcraft is the automotive brand name of the famous America-based Ford Motor Company. The company was established in 1903 by Henry Ford. It has its headquarters in Dearborn, Mich. The company has established an excellent reputation in the market for its quality car motors and related engine auto parts. Some of its best-selling transmission filters include the Motorcraft FT-114 Screen Assy. All the transmission filters from this company come with a quality assurance mark that makes them suitable for all automobiles with a Ford engine.

ACDelco

ACDelco is a brand name of General Motors, which was established in 1908. The international company is headquartered in Detroit, Mich., and serves six countries with its high-quality auto parts. For more than a century, the company has been offering some of the best automobile spare parts and transmission filters. Some of its quality transmission filters include the ACDelco Professional Automatic Transmission Fluid Filter Starter Kit and the ACDelco TF289 Professional Automatic Transmission Fluid Filter Kit.

Wix 

When looking for high-quality transmission filters, Wix should be your first stop. The company was established in 1939 with its headquarters based in Gaston, N.C. It produces a variety of products for the filtration, diesel, industrial, and automotive markets. Some of the best-selling transmission filters from the company include the WIX Filters—58618 Automatic Transmission Filter and the WIX Filters58040 Automatic Transmission Filter. All the filtration products offered by the company will come with a product warranty to give you peace of mind when placing your order.

Transmission Filters Pricing 

  • Under $20: These are the most affordable transmission filters you can buy for your car. They are a bit lighter and reliable. However, most of them come with a low-quality magnetic disk that can break off easily. 
  • $20-$30: If you are looking for a transmission filter that saves you money while improving the performance of your car’s engine, then you want to consider those in this price range. Most of these filters come with a tube filter seal that enables them to remain in the exact position when you install them.
  • $30 and up: These are the most expensive fuel transmission filters you can find. They are designed with low abrasion and durable metals. They are suitable for heavy-duty vehicle engines such as the V-8 engines of the Chevrolet, Honda, and Toyota brands. They also last longer than most of the cheaper filters.

Key Features 

Air-Tight Seal

Most quality transmission filters come with air-tight seals that ensure no leaking of transmission fluid or entry of foreign materials inside the engine. Every transmission filter must have an air-tight O-ring seal to ensure no room for microparticles. The O-ring encloses the space between the transmission case and the pickup tube to ensure no air gets into the transmission system.

Pickup Tube 

This is another essential feature that you must look for whenever you purchase a transmission filter kit. A transmission filter comes with a pickup tube that connects the oil pump and the transmission filter assembly. The pickup tube should be made of durable and flexible material for enhanced efficiency. 

Gasket 

This is an essential part of your transmission filter kit. A gasket encloses the space between the transmission pan and the filter to ensure no space is left for the transmission fluid to escape. Transmission filter gaskets are made of either rugged rubber or cork. They are fixed on the perimeter of the pan or may be left to simply pull off.

Other Considerations 

  • Low Abrasion Surface. The best transmission filters come with a low-abrasion metal surface that lasts longer, even under constant friction with the different parts of the transmission system. When buying a new filter, you want to ensure the metal used to construct it does not wear off quickly. This way, you can use it on a heavy-duty engine.
  • Ease of Installation. Armed with screwdrivers and some other simple tools, most motorists can fit transmission filters by themselves without visiting a mechanic. Therefore, before purchasing a new filter kit, you want to ensure that it has an OEM direct-fit design. A transmission filter with a simple fit design saves you time and money. The transmission filter kit should be easy to assemble and install in your engine.

Best Transmission Filters Reviews & Recommendations 2020

Best Overall
ACDelco Professional Automatic Transmission Fluid Filter Starter Kit

When it comes to choosing a quality transmission filter kit, you want one that comes with all the essential features you need. The ACDelco Fluid Filter remains to be the most sought in the market because of its unique features. It comes with infused fiber filters and air-tight seals, which makes it more efficient.


This is your all-in-one transmission filter. The kit comes complete with all the parts and accessories that you need for its installation. It will stay intact for the longest time because it is made of durable parts that are resistant to abrasion.


What puts this product off the mark is that it comes in a variety of sizes, which makes it a bit challenging to pick one that suits your car’s transmission system. Also, the deep pan is not well-positioned, making it hard to fix.

Best Value
Allison External Spin-On Filter

These are designed specifically for GM trucks. They come with external spin-on filters that are leakproof. Since they come from a reputable brand, you can be confident that they will last a long time.


They are more affordable compared to other brands like ACDelco. The filter comes with a highly responsive magnet. It also has the most extended lifespan of up to three years. With this transmission filter, you will save transmission fuel and time from the regular repair of your transmission system.


Although it comes with a quality magnetic disk, most buyers mistakenly throw out this disk and end up ordering a new piece. Most transmission filters do not have this issue. 

Best OEM Design
Motorcraft FT-114 Screen Assy

This may be one of the simplest transmission filter designs you can find. The transmission filter comes with an OEM direct-fit design, which makes it a bit faster and easier to install in your car’s transmission system. The filter is compatible with engines like Mercury, Lincoln, and Ford.


All the parts are made of a low-abrasion metal to last longer and save you money. It also comes with an air-tight seal that ensures no corrosive moisture enters the transmission system. Also, it comes with 20 bolt holes, which makes it easy to install.


What makes this product less preferable are the essential accessories that are missing from the kit. Since the kit comes without a gasket, you’ll need to buy a new gasket whenever you are fixing the transmission filter in your car.

Best Universal Fit
ATP Automatic Transmission Filter Kit

The ATP Automatic Transmission Filter Kit is a reasonably priced filter for your vehicle’s transmission. You don’t need to worry about whether it is compatible with a certain vehicle. It is a universal transmission filter and is made to fit with just about any Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, or Mercedes model. 


Since it’s a great fit for Mercedes-Benz vehicles, it is considered a premium transmission filter, though you won’t end up paying a premium price for it. The filter comes equipped with a specialized molded rubber gasket, too. It fits squarely and securely in place, is high-quality, and doesn’t require any sealant.


However, it may not be the most simple filter to install. It may require you to move around other components or loosen specific bolts for it to fit properly. Also, the gasket may not be all that thick when compared to the OEM transmission filter inside the vehicle.

Honorable Mention
ACDelco Gold Automatic Transmission Fluid Filter Kit

Here’s another great transmission filter from the dependable ACDelco company. Its Gold Automatic Transmission Fluid Filter Kit is a direct replacement for stock or OEM filters. It’s designed to provide more reliable filtration and a higher rate of flow. Another benefit is it can capture more debris so the transmission operates more smoothly. Specifically developed to function with General Motors vehicles, the filter fits on Escalades, Camaros, Enclaves, and more. It is also rather lightweight, which makes it easier to install. The filter is also set at a friendly price, considering it is made by ACDelco. It also includes a durable gasket.


There have been complaints that the filter may be difficult to install on certain model vehicles. For instance, if you have a towing package and a deep pan, you may need to loosen the exhaust to install the filter correctly. Also, be aware that the gasket is cork and not rubber.

Honorable Mention
WIX Automatic Transmission Filter

The WIX Automatic Transmission Filter is a single filter built to function with Chrysler Dodge vehicles. It is a great filter for any Dodge Charger, Ram 2500, and even Jeep Grand Cherokees. No matter the size of the vehicle’s engine, whether it’s a large Cummins or standard V6, the filter allows it to run smoother and boosts performance as well. The filter fits snugly and firmly, and includes a rubber gasket. Its design allows it to capture a large amount of dirt and debris, too. It’s also a complete kit, so you don’t have to worry about buying other components before installing them inside of your vehicle. Plus, it is all rather simple to install.


While this transmission filter may not be all that expensive, it is priced at a higher point than other competing filters. There have also been complaints that the metal may be too thin, which could make it less durable.

Honorable Mention
ACDelco Professional Automatic Transmission Fluid Filter Kit

The ACDelco Professional Automatic Transmission Fluid Filter Kit is a premium component that helps increase overall engine performance. It is a direct aftermarket replacement for your vehicle’s transmission filter so it installs more easily and securely. It’s another great filter kit for GM vehicles, and may even fit on other vehicles, too. While running down the list of compatible cars would take too long, here are a few the filter will work with: Chevrolet Silverado, Tahoe, Sierra, and Colorado. It is one of the best all-around transmission filters for large trucks and SUVs. If your vehicle pulls a lot of power and torque, consider this ACDelco filter when you’re looking to upgrade.


However, even though it is a kit, the transmission filter does not come with a pan gasket. Another issue is found when you consider the price. It is one of the most expensive transmission filters to make our list. Plus, adding on the cost of a gasket will end up causing you to spend even more cash.

Honorable Mention
FRAM Transmission Filter Kit

Our final choice for a transmission filter is the FRAM Transmission Filter Kit. Set at a mid-range price point, the filter is developed out of tough and sturdy metal, while the included gasket is made out of a high-quality cork. It is well-equipped at preventing material and moisture from damaging and interfering with the transmission. The transmission filter is also rather light, weighing just around eight ounces. It is a direct replacement for Dodge vehicles and installs easily and quickly without much fuss. It is a robust and rugged filter that is fit for drivers who spend days hauling heavy loads or ones who have longer commutes.


While the filter kit may not be considered expensive, it isn’t necessarily cheap. It sits somewhere in the middle when it comes to pricing. Also, the gaskets are made out of a thin metal material, so they do bend more easily. They need to be handled with care so they don’t flex or get warped.

Tips

  • There are many imposter products that try to substitute for higher quality and well-known transmission filter brands, such as the Allison filter. Inspect the product and product reviews carefully to make sure you’re getting a good-quality brand.
  • Not all transmission filters will fit every vehicle. Determine the size of your vehicle’s transmission filter before making a purchase.
  • Make sure you have all the parts required in order to replace your filter as some filters come in kits, while others require additional parts.

FAQs

Q. How often do I need to change my transmission filter?

The transmission filter should be changed every two years or every 20,000 miles. Depending on the filter, some brands can last up to three years between replacements.

Q. What is the best filter for GM vehicles?

ACDelco and Allison brand filters are factory filters designed specifically for GM vehicles. ACDelco is owned by GM, whereas the Allison brand makes the transmissions for GM vehicles. 

Q. What is a spin-on transmission filter?

A spin-on transmission filter refers to the shape of the filter. These filters are barrel-shaped and are easier to fit onto the vehicle. 

Final Thoughts

We recommend the ACDelco Professional Automatic Transmission Fluid Filter Starter Kit. This filter is top of the line and not too expensive.

A more affordable option is the Allison External Spin On Filter.