From A Transmission Expert: Three Ways To Extend The Life Of Your Automatic Transmission

Posted by on Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

The automatic transmission, only second to your motor, is the most expensive item to replace on your vehicle. Most owners know nothing about their transmission or how to care for them properly. Without some type of care, automatic transmissions can fail in as little as 30,000 miles. That is why you need a transmission expert. With minimum care you’ll probably get close to 100,000 miles out of it. While that sounds like the transmission will last a long time, it only take about 7 years to put 100,000 miles on your car, that is if you drive the average of 15,000 miles a year. Consider this fact; the average age of the vehicle on the road today is over 11 years old. That means that taking the yearly average of 15000 miles per year, you will put 165,000 miles on your vehicle in 11 years. You better do something if you hope to make it last that long. Here are three easy things you can do to extend the life of your automatic transmission.

Servicing your transmission is key to making it last longer


1)  Have your transmission serviced regularly. Regardless of what the factory recommends, I recommend the following.  Change the oil and filter every 20,000 miles ( the factory will usually recommend a much longer interval before the next oil change). Do a complete transmission flush (including the torque converter, transmission cooler and cooler lines) every 40,000 miles. Adjust the bands (if possible) every 60,000 miles. While this extra service will cost more, it is pennies on the dollar compared to replacing the transmission after it fails.

As vehicles stay on the road longer everyting that can be done should be done to extend the life of the transmission


2)  Upgrade the fluid you are using to a synthetic fluid. Synthetic fluids hold up much better to heat (and resist turning to varnish) than petroleum based fluids. They also hold their properties better over a longer period of time. Just be sure to consult with an expert on the type of fluid you use. The wrong type of synthetic transmission fluid can quickly destroy your transmissions. Again, you will spend a little more on synthetic fluid compared to the organic type but it’s money well spent.

3)  Invest in a good quality transmission cooler. Heat is by far the number one killer of automatic transmissions. For every 20 degrees you go above 200 degrees you cut the life span of the transmission by a factory of two. That means at 220 degrees you can only expect your transmission to last half as long as it was designed to. At 240 that number falls to ¼ and at 260 it drops to 1/8th. For the best results, mount the cooler in the line coming out of the factory cooler. For a bit of extra insurance, buy a cooler that has a built in fan.

A transmission cooler with a built in fan is an excellent investment in the logevity of your transmission!


Find a shop that follows the ten commandments of great customer service. You need a transmission expert who listens to your needs and gives you personalized attention. Follow my advice and enjoy the extra years you get out of your automatic transmission!

As you read this article, it may be too late to do anything to help your transmission. At least you now know what to do once you buy a replacement transmission. And speaking of replacement transmissions, I always advise my customers to replace their transmission with a re-manufactured transmission over one that has simply been rebuilt.

A re-manufactured transmission will include upgrades and modifications to make it last longer. These are the type of things the factory should have done in the first place. Everything in a re-manufactured transmission is re-machined or replaced to make the transmission every bit as good as a new one at a fraction of the cost. You won’t find either in a rebuilt transmission. A re-manufactured transmission also usually comes with a much better warranty –  three years compared to an average 90 days for a rebuilt transmission.

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