Transmission Maintenance: How to Care for Your Automatic Transmission

You want to make sure your automatic transmission is reliable. Continue reading to learn the top transmission maintenance tips.

AAMCO  | 10/07/2019
Vehicle Maintenance

Learn How to Care for Your Automatic TransmissionYou want to make sure your automatic transmission is reliable. Keep reading to learn the top transmission maintenance tips. 

You never ignore your check engine light, you're an expert at changing a flat tire, and you regularly get your oil changed. 

You consider yourself a careful car owner, and standard maintenance and inspections are already a part of your routine. 

But one aspect of car care that you might not be as familiar with? 

The proper ways to care for your automatic transmission. 

In this post, you'll learn about the most important transmission maintenance steps you need to take to protect yourself on the road and to extend the life of your transmission. 

Inspect Your Transmission Fluid 

One of the best ways to know if you're in need of a professional transmission service is to take the time to check its fluid.

The fluid gives you a great indication of the transmission's overall health. 

With your engine idling in park, remove and wipe the dipstick clean. Insert the dipstick again and take another reading in order to get the most accurate reading possible. A lower fluid level than normal indicates a leak that could be serious. 

Also, take a look at the actual appearance of the fluid. 

If it looks a bit cloudy and dark, there's likely a problem. Remember that good transmission fluid should be a transparent bright color and not milky or muddy in appearance. Manufacturers use various colored fluid but the most common is a reddish color.

If you notice that the fluid smells a bit burnt or off in some way, take it into a professional transmission repair center as soon as possible in that you could have serious problems.

Take Care of Your Cooling System

Your car's cooling system plays a vital role in the health of your engine and transmission, and is typically thought to only prevent the engine from getting too hot. 

However, your cooling system also cools your transmission fluid so that it's at an ideal temperature when it is not moving or when it shifts through the gears.

In order to ensure that your engine and transmission fluid don't overheat, make proper cooling system inspection and maintenance a part of your standard car care strategy.  

Be Mindful of the Brake

We know that you might feel a bit safer driving with your foot ever-so-slightly pressed down on your brake pedal. 

However, the truth is that even a small amount of brake pressure puts serious strain on both your engine and your automatic transmission and it could be operating your brake light switch which will affect transmission operation by taking it out of overdrive gears. Try to avoid resting your foot on the brake pedal -- doing so won't just prolong the life of your transmission, it will also encourage you to drive a bit more slowly and cautiously. 

When you're parking uphill or downhill on any kind of an incline, rely on your parking brake, not just the transmission park gear selection to avoid putting extra stress on the transmissions parts. 

Shift Gears Wisely

Not all transmission maintenance tips have to be complicated. 

One of the easiest -- and most effective -- ways to keep your transmission in good health is to ensure that you always bring your car to a complete stop before you shift into park or switching from reverse to drive.

Check out this detailed guide on the best ways to safely control the gear shifts when driving a vehicle with an automatic transmission. 

Use Proper Transmission Fluid

Often, car owners end up doing serious damage to their vehicles simply because they have changed their fluid and are not using the proper automatic transmission fluid. 

Information about the kind of transmission fluid for your vehicle can be found in your owner's manual. If you're using an incompatible kind of fluid, you' should have the transmission fluid flushed and replace it with the proper kind and keep your fingers crossed that you caught it in time before any damage occurs

Flush Out Your Transmission

Follow your owner's manual for the manufacturer’s suggested time and mileage for changing your transmission fluid. Depending on your driving habits, the conditions you drive in and the loads you put on the vehicle, a more aggressive schedule will be specified.

A professional transmission flush or fluid exchange also helps to ensure that no old fluid remains in the torque converter or in your oil cooler lines. It's also a great way to get rid of any gunk and grime that's trapped in your transmission. 

This process required specialized equipment to fully remove all of the old fluid and exchange it with new fresh fluid. Only draining the transmission pan will only change approximately 33%-50% of your fluid.

Be Patient Before Driving

We know that you're always eager to get to your next destination as quickly as possible. 

But if you start tearing out of your driveway or a parking lot before your car has had a minute or so to warm up can put undue stress on your car's engine and transmission.

The computer in your car will keep your transmission from shifting normally when things are cold, allowing the engine to rev higher and longer between shifts to quickly get warmth in the fluids. Waiting a short bit before moving out will help warm up the fluid and ensure everything is lubricated and moving as required.  

Avoid Towing

If you have a larger, more powerful vehicle, friends and family members may rely on you for towing. 

BUT… unless your vehicle is set up for towing with a factory Heavy Duty cooling system, a Heavy-Duty transmission parts, and heavy-duty springs and shocks, along with the properly installed and prepared tow hitch, towing or transporting heavy loads can put undue stress on your vehicle.

However, if you agree to act as the stand-in for a tow truck in extreme weather, your transmission fluid is likely going to run hot and could no longer lubricate as required.

This wreaks havoc on the transmission If necessary, rent a truck or let the experts handle the towing. 

Don't Overuse Your Spare Tire

Spare tires are incredibly helpful in a pinch, but they can also do some damage to your transmission, transfer case in 4x4 or all-wheel-drive vehicles, and or differential especially if they are the small save-a spare tire, or they haven’t been maintained. 

Most spare tires will have a warning label affixed warning you to drive the vehicle slowly and for not very long distances. They are designed to save weight and space and to get you to a repair center quickly.

Regular Inspection Is the Most Important Part of Transmission Maintenance

Above all, remember that the most essential aspect of proper transmission maintenance is routine transmission service and inspection specified in your owner’s manual and well before you suspect a problem has occurred. 

The moment that you suspect there's an issue it is probably too late, but don’t wait! Take your car in and have it examined by a professional and perhaps it can be repaired before it gets worse.  

They'll not only be able to correctly diagnose the issue, but they can also provide you with the best possible service. 

Where can you go for total car care

No matter what kind of car trouble you're facing, rely on us to fix it. Learn more about the services we have to offer and book your service appointment with us today.

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