Preventing Transmission Damage
Your car is obviously a complex machine with hundreds of parts working together to make it operate properly. Ideally, the ignition, charging system, cooling system, and every other component would work perfectly without your having to think about them. Of course, wear and tear take an inevitable toll. Over time, parts wear out and need to be repaired or replaced. In this article, we’re going to explore transmissions in the context of how they can sustain damage. Repair work normally performed on them can be expensive. The more you can avoid causing unnecessary harm (or, at least preventing it from happening), the more money you’ll save.
Factors That Cause Damage
If you’re driving an automatic (ATF), one of the most common sources of long-term damage is heat. When your engine is running, the ATF undergoes a significant amount of internal friction. That friction generates intense heat. The purpose of the transmission fluid is to absorb that heat. If it can remain at approximately 175 degrees Fahrenheit, the ATF will likely last as long as 80,000 miles or more. However, if the temperature climbs past 200 degrees, the part can start oxidizing from the heat. That’s a problem. The ATF can also suffer from other issues (though, they’re less common). For example, if it was rebuilt by a poorly-trained mechanic, it can fail for a number of reasons. Also, if the fluid levels are too low, or you’re driving extremely aggressively (i.e. constant racing, abrupt starting and stopping, etc.), you can cause damage over time.
How To Prevent It From Fail
As implied in the previous section, you’ll need to make sure that the transmission fluid is at an appropriate level. If the fluid always seems low, place cardboard under your car to identify whether a leak has formed. If it has, have a mechanic fix it. Also, pay particular attention to the color of the fluid. A dark color usually signals that it’s dirty and needs to be replaced. As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, always check your owners manual to determine the proper replacement intervals. You can also preserve the life of your transmission by the manner in which you shift. For example, press your brake pedal down to make sure your car isn’t in motion when you shift out of Park. Similarly, don’t shift into reverse if your car is moving forward. Doing so can put enormous strain on the ATF.
Preventative Maintenance And Service
Eventually, you will need to replace your transmission. Like all of your car’s moving parts, it will give out and fail one day. The good news is that you can prolong its useful life by taking a few preventative maintenance steps. Make sure the fluid is at an appropriate level, don’t drive aggressively, and avoid shifting when your car is in motion. Those simple steps can help ensure that your transmission will last for several years.