Street car, race car, tow vehicle, daily driver – they all have a transmission, and chances are in this day and age that it’s an automatic transmission. Today’s automatic transmissions are more complex and advanced than they ever have been before, with seven- and eight-speed automatics starting to find their way into passenger cars. The improvements realized in fuel efficiency thanks to these late-model transmission designs are huge, but these, like any other automatic transmission, will benefit from regular and routine maintenance. Our good friends over at TCI Auto recently published a Top Ten list on their Facebook page, so we thought we’d share it with you. These tips apply to any automatic transmission in any vehicle.
TEN WAYS TO PROLONG THE LIFE OF YOUR TRANSMISSION
- Check transmission fluid regularly and properly. (See Owner’s Manual for Details)
- Check transmission fluid after running hot. Stop and go traffic, hilly terrain, hot weather, or towing can build up excess transmission heat causing fluid to be lost, damaged, or both. Check it no later than your next stop for gasoline.
- Install an external cooler in high stress conditions. Towing a trailer, hauling heavy loads, or being stuck in traffic often creates excessive transmission heat. An external cooler can help to prolong the life of your transmission by reducing heat and friction.
- Change transmission fluid more often in high stress conditions. Transmission fluid cools, cleans, and lubricates the internal transmission parts while providing the hydraulic pressure to make all of the components work together. When the fluid loses its ability to perform those tasks efficiently trouble can’t be far away. Any of the conditions in items 2 & 3 above will shorten the effective life of transmission fluid. In those cases, change the fluid a minimum of twice a year (unless otherwise specified in the owners manual).
- Check any malfunctions promptly. Repair bills tend to rise in proportion to mileage driven after the first signs of trouble. The longer you drive with a malfunctioning transmission, the more damage you may cause, and the more money it may cost you.
- Have the transmission linkage and other adjustments checked periodically. Especially after the vehicle has been in an accident or has had any major engine work performed.
- Keep your engine properly tuned. A poor running engine can, at times, display symptoms similar to a transmission problem.
- Have other drive train components that may affect transmission function checked regularly. Drive shafts and their universal joints, drive axles and their constant velocity joints, engine flywheels or flex plates, computer system and sensors, radiator and cooling lines to the transmission, engine and transmission mountings can cause problems.
- Have your vehicle’s cooling system checked twice a year for leaks, proper coolant level and strength. Antifreeze can deteriorate over time causing it to become ineffective creating overheating or freeze-up conditions.
- Take your vehicle for a complete physical check up at least once a year. This should include all safety components such as lights, brakes and steering. Remember that a poor running engine or certain transmission problems can be a safety hazard.