Protect Your Automatic Transmission: Do’s and Don’ts

Posted by on Monday, March 4th, 2013

Automatic transmissions, just like every other part of your vehicle, have a finite life span. They are not designed to last forever. Newer transmissions (those built in the last 15 years) tend to last much longer than those designed before that. The problem is that people do dumb things to kill their transmissions. I guess we shouldn’t call them dumb things because most of them probably have no idea they are damaging their transmissions.

internal view of your average transmission


Here are a couple of things you should do and a couple of things you should not do:

Do: Follow your manufacturers recommended service intervals. It is extremely important that you change the fluid and filter by the recommended service interval. The properties of transmission fluid break down over time. The constant heating and cooling of the fluid takes its toll. Over time, the fluid can turn to a varnish and lose its ability to lubricate properly, which in turn will severely shorten the life span of the transmission. On the filter side, the filter can get clogged up over time and prevent or severely limit the flow of transmission fluid, which again will quickly kill the transmission. Normal wear of the friction material inside the transmission is what will clog the filter if it is not changed regularly.

Don’t: Don’t tow over the vehicle’s recommended towing limit or carry payloads over the recommended limit. This puts a lot of stress on the transmission and can cause a total transmission failure due to overheating and slippage of the friction material.

Exceeding recommended payload limits can kill your transmission


Do: Invest in a good quality transmission cooler. In most cases, the bigger the cooler the better. As an upgrade, buy a cooler that has a built-in fan. Overheating is the number one cause of transmission failure. Remember to mount the cooler in an area where it will get plenty of air flow when the vehicle is in motion.

Don’t: Don’t keep your vehicle’s gas pedal to the floor when going up a long, steep incline, such as a big hill. This holds especially true when carrying a heavy load or towing.  Driving up a steep hill put a lot of stress on the transmission. This stress turns into heat. Heat kills the transmission. Bring your bike along, because you’ll need it when your car breaks down. You may as well be driving in the Black Rock Desert. Don’t believe me? Next time you’re going down the highway in the summer time take note of all the vehicles pulled over to the side. Chances are very high that they have overheated their transmission and probably killed it.

transmissions can easily overheat causing much damage


Do: Switch over to a synthetic transmission fluid. Synthetic fluids don’t break down nearly as easily as organic fluids from higher temperatures and tend to have an overall longer life span.

Don’t : If your transmission does eventually die, don’t replace it with a rebuilt transmission. Instead replace it with a re-manufactured transmission. Re-manufactured transmissions are just as good as a new transmission for a whole lot less money!

That is your transmission lesson for the day. Follow my advice and count on extending the life of your transmission!

A transmission will not last forever, regardless of how well you take care of it. If a decision has to be made to replace the transmission, I highly recommend you consider a re-manufactured transmission as your first choice. They differ from a rebuilt transmission in the fact that they are as good as a new transmission at a greatly reduced price and often include modifications and upgrades that make them much more durable. A re-manufactured transmission also comes with a much better warranty: three years compared to 90 days for a rebuilt transmission.

One Response to “Protect Your Automatic Transmission: Do’s and Don’ts”

  1. [...] transmission is also susceptible to overheating. Abuse, such as towing over the maximum recommend factory limit or carrying a payload that is too heavy can both con…. If you suspect your transmission might be overheating, take a look at the transmission fluid [...]

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