Changing AT filters started off with me with a 1949 olds, use to have a drain plug on the pan, got rid of that, trying to drop a pan full of fluid can really give you a shower. But never knew why it it had to be replace, just a screen door type screen, worst case would be to clean it with what was the cheapest solvent back then, gasoline.
But the key reason for replacing it was that O-Ring on the outlet tube that fit up into the AT. It would dry up, can suck in air rather than fluid from the bottom of the pan. Most of the debris was also at the bottom of the pan. Half a teaspoon for each change was considered normal, more than this, how much more, never stated, could be a problem. But that old filter was never that dirty in the first place.
One major problem was using steel oil coolant lines, to get a long lasting lines, would change those to copper, and wasn't that bad going into a brass pan on the radiator. Problems really started when that was switched to plastic. Was better to cut those off than to try to remove them. Not even sure if it was a cooler or a heater, going into the bottom of the already over hot radiator.
Was compounded by using the engine temperature sensor in FWD vehicles for fan control, would get constant thermal cycling between 195 to 235*F, so the cooling system was already to blow its cork before the fans would turn on. Got around that by adding a thermisitor at the center of the radiator, would kick on at a more reasonable 160*F so the coolant temperature would remain steady at 195*F.
Somebody really has a bug up their butt about limiting radiator fan operation, even in the big stuff, worst case HP load is less than a third of a HP. And worst case is city driving, at highway speeds get a windmilling effect. Adding an external AT cooler can be a very wise investment.
Torque converter is the culprit, not exactly helpless, when waiting a half a day for a traffic light to turn green, could shift the AT into neutral. Another great addition, was adding torque converter lockup, but for most vehicles, above 45 mph. City driving is the worse for AT's.
Most important check on AT fluid is the color, should be red, starts turning brown, this is when it should be changed. Was really easy with a dipstick, not only for level, but for color, but the dingbats got rid of this. Also got rid of the pan.
Just trade it in every three years.