How to Extend Your Transmission Life
Your transmission is like your car’s nervous system. It interplays with almost every other system in the vehicle, and problems can leave you doing more walking than driving. Signs you might have transmission trouble include:
- Strong odors
- Discolored fluid
- Burning smell
- Check engine light
- Slow acceleration
- Reduced fuel mileage
- Fluid leaks
- Grinding noises
- Whirring sounds
- Slipping gears
- Dragging clutch (manual transmissions only)
If yours is already showing one of the problems listed above, you likely already need a repair, which can be very expensive. The best way to care for it is to prevent problems before they start. With just a few easy steps, you can keep it functioning smoothly and efficiently:
Replace transmission fluid according to OEM specifications.
Your vehicle’s manufacturer will include their recommended service interval for replacing fluid in your vehicle’s service manual. Each vehicle model’s recommendation can be different depending on vehicle type, transmission type, etc. If you’re not sure when to change your fluid, do it at least every 40000 miles.
Upgrade to synthetic transmission fluid.
Synthetic fluid resists oxidation, allows gear to shift easier, doesn’t need to be changed as much, and doesn’t break down so severely at high temperatures. Plus, since synthetic fluid is not petroleum-based like regular fluid, it’s better for the environment and your car’s carbon footprint. However, not all vehicles can use synthetic fluid, so do your research before pouring it in.
Adjust the transmission bands.
If you are driving an older vehicle or heavy-duty truck, you may have heard of adjusting the bands. This old trick won’t work on newer cars, but adjusting or tightening the bands on older vehicles at least every 60,000 miles can prevent some issues.
Check the transmission fluid.
It might seem like this goes without saying, but keep a check on your fluid level. When it is low, top it off with extra fluid. If it is constantly below where it should be, take your vehicle to an experienced mechanic immediately.
Only use transmission fluid recommended by the OEM.
There are many varieties of fluid on the market, and they are all made for different purposes. Only use the type of fluid that your vehicle OEM approves. Using unapproved transmission fluid could cause your transmission to seize up and leave you stranded.
Never mix different types of transmission fluid.
Just like you should only use the OEM recommended fluid, you should also never mix different types of transmission fluids. Each fluid is designed specifically for its purpose, and mixing different fluids could cause undesired effects or even a breakdown.
Replace the transmission filter and/or screen as recommended by OEM.
Whether your vehicle has a filter or screen, clean it and replace it at the interval recommended by the vehicle OEM. Depending on the type of transmission your vehicle has, you may need a mechanic to do this task.
Clean the transmission pan magnets.
Magnets on your pan are used to capture metal fragments, so they don’t enter and hamper its functioning. These fragments need to be cleaned out from time to time to ensure the magnets can continue working. You may want a mechanic to do this as well.
Use a transmission conditioning product.
Many conditioning products are on the market these days. These products can not only restore performance, but some can fix small leaks. Only use conditioning products made for your vehicle type. If you are unsure what to use, consult with your mechanic or auto parts store representative.
When it comes to transmissions, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. Repairing yours after the damage has occurred is prohibitively costly and time-consuming. Instead, treat your transmission well by following recommended service schedules and it will last you the entire life of your car. If you live in Sarasota or Manatee counties and have transmission problems, call the experts at Ralph’s Transmissions to get you back up and running in no time!