What Are Some of the Mistakes People Make When Caring for Automatic Transmissions?

Posted on: 29 November 2016

Any moving part in any machine carries a risk of failure. The more complex the machine, the more care and maintenance it will need. The automatic transmission in your vehicle is probably the most complex component of the whole car. It stands to reason therefore, that you should pay attention to its maintenance. What are some of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to protecting the transmission's longevity?

Why Maintenance Is Crucial

You have to make sure that you schedule a full checkup of your transmission at least once every year. The components within operate at a very high temperature and in close tolerances. There is a certain amount of wear and tear associated with any mechanical operation and this can produce miniature metal filings and buildup of dirt and contaminants inside the system. If this is left unchecked, it will, over time, lead to a decrease in performance and the development of problems.

Doing a Colour Test

Once every quarter you should have a look at the colour of the transmission fluid by locating the dipstick, pulling it out, wiping it off and putting it back in gently. Then, withdraw it again slowly and have a look at the colour of the fluid. When it's brand new it should be either bright red or scarlet in colour. 'Normal' used fluid should be a chocolate brown in colour. If the fluid that you can see on the end of the dipstick is virtually black, this is a big warning sign.

Watch Those Levels

Another big mistake people make is to run the car with an insufficient amount of fluid in the system. Remember that the fluid does not just lubricate the moving parts, but it helps to dissipate the heat that builds up and is also crucial when providing the right amount of hydraulic pressure to operate the clutches and gears. If the level is low, then the net result will be a spike in operating temperatures and a more rapid wear rate. This is another reason to check those fluid levels on a regular basis, but it's also a good reason to check that you don't have any leaks beneath the car.

Always Use the Right Type

Never run the incorrect type of transmission fluid in your vehicle. If you are responsible for buying this yourself, ensure that the 'ATF' specification is the same as labelled in your owner's manual.

Take Action Now If Needed

Finally, always make sure that you investigate any strange noises or sensations as soon as possible. If it feels that the transmission is 'slipping' or there are some strange shaking or grinding noises coming from an area that appears to be near the middle of the car, these are signs for action. The transmission affects torque and differential, so if you have transmission issues you aren't attending to, you might also end up going in for differential repair as well.