If you’ve ever had trouble with your transmission, chances are good that, aside from a design flaw, a manufacturing problem, or old age, you’re driving, and maintenance habits could be to blame. Below are the top ten ways you could be contributing to the wear and tear of your transmission.
- Play Dr. Transmission: Additives, such as those advertised to stop leaks or help transmission shifting can sometimes damage rubber seals.
- Abuse the Drivetrain: In metro areas, it may be hard to avoid stop-and-go traffic, but idling a vehicle for too long, off-roading, or “rocking” your vehicle in an attempt to get your vehicle out of sand, snow, or mud can burn out a transmission rather quickly. When the engine and transmission is working, but you are not moving, the transmission fluid can overheat and internal parts may fail.
- Forget the Brake is There: Use the brake to stop, not your shift lever. Shifting gear to reverse direction without being at a complete stop is not transmission-friendly behavior.
- Often Stop Hard and Fast: Doing this can damage drivetrain parts, such as engine and transmission mounts. If this is a habit of yours, consider having the mounts checked, and promising your vehicle you’ll be nicer to it in the future.
- Try Your Hand at Urban Drag Racing: Racing between stoplights can produce a lot of heat without giving the transmission much of a chance to cool down. This can cause the transmission to overheat and damage internal components.
- Never Change the Fluid: If you don’t change the transmission fluid, dirt and contaminants can build up inside. This can cause it to become sluggish and, eventually, to fail. Experts recommend either a fluid change or a flush, with a filter change, every 30,000-60,000 miles.
- Never Check Fluid Levels: The fastest way to transmission failure (except for slamming your vehicle from drive to park at 60 mph—Don’t!) is to run it low on fluid or run it out of fluid. Breakdown is guaranteed, and a high repair bill will be coming.
- Ignore Engine Overheating: 200 degrees is the max temperature for most transmissions. Going above this limit just 40 degrees, to 240, can turn oil-based transmission fluid to varnish and unable to keep moving parts lubricated. The higher the temperature goes, the shorter the life-span of your transmission.
- Use the Wrong Type of Transmission Fluid: Using the wrong type of transmission fluid is a killer. Don’t try mixing different types because that’s all you have or just on a temporary basis. There is no forgiveness period given by your transmission for this.
Last, but not least, don’t ignore problems until it’s too late. If you hear a strange noise, grinding gears, clunking, shaking, slipping or stalling, or a dark red fluid dripping onto the driveway, pay attention. You can prevent further damage by acting right away.
If you are in the Denver area, and are having any problems, or notice it’s time for regular maintenance, make an appointment at Advanced Transmission Center right away. Our technicians can perform our TrueTest Inspection free of charge and let you know if there is any servicing or repairs that need to be done.