How To Prepare Your Automatic Transmission For A Long, Hot August Road Trip

Posted by on Friday, August 2nd, 2013

Summer is winding down and families are planning on taking their last road trip before school starts up again. August is notorious for being the hottest month of the year.  Ambient air temperatures can hit 120 in some places, with actual asphalt temperatures climbing to over 150 degrees. Your automatic transmission sits inches from the road, so you can only imagine how hot it might get.

There is nothing worse than having the family car break down on a vacation. You lose both precious vacation time and you may end up with a high repair bill.  Your automatic transmission doesn’t have to be one of those systems on your vehicle that leaves you stranded. Here is what you can do to your transmission before you hit the road for that end-of-summer trip.

get your automatic transmission serviced before your trip


Get your transmission serviced at a reputable repair facility. A good transmission service should include the following:

-   Removal of the transmission pan and draining of the old transmission fluid.

-   Power flushing of the transmission lines and transmission cooler.

-   Draining of the torque converter.

-   Replacement of all filters.

-   Cleaning of any internal screens.

-   Re-torquing of the valve body bolts to proper factory specs.

-   Inspection of u-joints.

-   Inspection of the transmission mount.

-   Refill of transmission with synthetic transmission fluid.

-   Cleaning of vent valve at top of transmission.

-   Inspect for leaking front and rear seals.

-   Electronic scan of the vehicle’s computer. Look for transmission related error codes.

-   Comprehensive final test drive.

Service your transmission before your next trip


Invest in a good quality transmission cooler. Heat is by far the automatic transmission’s worst enemy and it doesn’t take much to destroy your transmission. Most automatic transmissions are designed to run at a maximum of 200 degrees. For every 20 degrees you go over 200 you cut the expect lifespan of the transmission by a factor of two. At temperatures are low as 240 degrees organic, oil based transmission fluids can start to turn to varnish. This leaves your transmission unprotected to wear and a total transmission failure is almost certainly guaranteed.

When shopping for a cooler, look for the largest one that will fit your vehicle. For additional insurance look for a transmission cooler that has a built in fan. Stay away from coolers that use a rubber hose and clamp system. They will almost always leak over time. The best coolers use an AN or pipe fitting to secure the transmission cooler lines to the cooler.

Heat is an automatic transmissions worse enemy!


If you decide to ignore my advice and suffer a total transmission failure, I strongly recommend replacing it with a re-manufactured unit over one that was simply rebuilt. Re-manufactured transmissions include major alterations and upgrades designed to make them stronger and last longer. A rebuilt transmission does not. Re-manufactured transmissions also come equipped with a much better warranties: three years compared to an average 90 days for a rebuilt transmission.  And If you have a question on a re-manufactured they are only an email or a phone call away!

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