How To Add An Automatic Transmission Cooler To Your Vehicle

Posted by on Monday, August 5th, 2013

If you’re a regular follower of my articles on automatic transmissions, you’ve obviously heard me preach over and over again how important it is keep your automatic transmission temperature cool. Heat is by far the number one killer of transmissions. It doesn’t matter the make, brand, model, number of gears or anything else. It affects them all the same. Ideally you want to keep your transmission temperature under a maximum of 200 degrees.

For every 20 degrees you go over 200, you cut the expected lifespan of the transmission by a factor of two. What exactly does that mean? At 220 degrees the lifespan is cut in half. At 240, it’s cut to a quarter. At 260 degrees it’s cut to 1/8th. It only gets worse as the temperature rises. Did you also know that at temperatures as low as 240 degrees, your organic oil based transmission fluid can start to turn to varnish? Once in a varnish state, the fluid completely loses the ability to lubricate your internal transmission parts properly and a major failure is almost surely assured.

mounting a transmission cooler is not difficult


One major way to prevent transmission overheating is to install an aftermarket transmission cooler. Let take a look at what it takes to install one.

1)  Choose a transmission cooler.  There are two major design styles; a tube and fin design, and a stacked plate design. Stacked plate type coolers are more durable and efficient, but they also are more expensive. You can choose between a cooler that uses a rubber hose and clamps to secure the cooler lines or a model that uses screw-in AN fittings. Avoid the ones that use a slip-on rubber hose as they are prone to leaking and eventually failing. Aftermarket coolers are available in hundreds of different sizes and shapes. Pick one that will fit your vehicle accordingly. You may also choose, as an option, a cooler that has its own built in electric fan. This is highly recommended as it helps keep the cooler working at low vehicle speeds when the forward movement of the vehicle provides minimum airflow to the cooler. Aftermarket transmission coolers are available from a number of different manufactures, including Long Manufacturing, Hayden Automotive, and many others.

Choose a stack plate style transmission cooler whenever possible


2)  Decide where to mount your cooler. Ideally you want to mount your cooler behind the front grill of your vehicle where airflow is greatest when the vehicle is in motion. Sometime this is not always possible, and in those rare cases the cooler can be mounted in the engine compartment or under the vehicle as space permits. If you’ve chosen to mount in one of these alternative locations you must purchase a cooler with a built in fan, preferably of the stacked plate design. Be sure to leave at least a ¼” clearance between any flat body panels and the cooler to allow for air circulation. Mount the cooler following the manufacturer’s procedures, which usually involves drilling a few holes in the material you’re mounting it to (core support, floor boards, etc.) and securing with nuts and bolts.

3)  Mount the transmission cooler to the outlet line of the factory radiator. The factory radiator cools both the motor anti-freeze and the transmission fluid (in separate self-contained cooling pods). If the motor is running over 200 degrees it will actual heat up the transmission fluid to the same temperature. Mounting the new cooler after the factory radiator allows it to better cool the transmission.

mount your transmission cooler after the factory radiator


4)  Splicing the factory cooler lines into the aftermarket cooler lines. I highly recommend you use compression fitting or double flared lines, or both. If using aluminum fittings in an aluminum cooler, be sure to use anti-seize on the treads of the fittings.

Installing an aftermarket cooler is a form of preventative medicine. In other words, by being proactive, you can prevent a breakdown or failure of your transmission in the same way we prevent illness by taking care of our own bodies.

If your transmission has suffered a complete failure due to overheating, please consider replacing it with a re-manufactured transmission over one that was simply rebuilt. A re-manufactured transmission will include major alterations and upgrades designed to make it both more durable and last longer. A rebuilt transmission will not. A re-manufactured transmission will also include a much better warranty; three years compared to an average 90 days for a rebuilt transmission. And if you have trouble choosing the proper re-manufactured transmission for your vehicle, you can quickly reach the manufacturer by either phone or email. You can remain confident that they will be there for you throughout the entire purchasing process!

3 Responses to “How To Add An Automatic Transmission Cooler To Your Vehicle”

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  2. […] first thing on your list of upgrades should be the purchase of a good, high quality aftermarket transmission cooler. I recommend this accessory as your first purchase because excessive heat is going to be your A618 […]

  3. […] changing your driving habits, you might want to consider investing in a good aftermarket transmission cooler. Transmission coolers come in many physical sizes, BTU ratings and designs. Ideally, you will […]

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