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Seven Tips for Automatic Transmission Care

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On: Tue, Feb 25, 2014 at 2:05PM | By: Bill Wilson

Seven Tips for Automatic Transmission Care

The modern automatic transmission is perhaps the most complex system in today’s motor vehicles, more complicated than even most engines. Fortunately, ensuring that it lasts as long as possible is comparatively simple. Here’s a look at seven easy tips that will help you to get more miles and less trouble from this all-important part of your car.

1. Get the fluid changed. Your transmission uses hydraulic oil to perform all of its major functions, including shifting from one gear to the next. Over time, this liquid accumulates dirt and loses its viscosity, which is its ability to lubricate parts and carry away heat. Follow your manufacturer’s recommendation for fluid changes or, as a rule of thumb, have the fluid switched out every 15,000 miles.

2. Don’t shift gears while the car is in motion. This can destroy vital parts very quickly. The only time it’s appropriate to put your car in parking gear while it’s moving is when your brakes have failed and you have no other way of slowing the vehicle.

3. Always engage your emergency brake when parking your vehicle; do so before shifting into park. This will prevent strain to your transmission’s gears. Do this whether parking on a hill or on a flat surface. Even a slight incline can stress vital components unnecessarily.

4. Never exceed your vehicle’s towing capacity. This is usually listed in the owner’s manual. Exceeding this limit can quickly raise temperatures in your transmission enough to cause severe damage, the kind that may cost you thousands of dollars to fix.

5. If you tow or carry heavy loads often, then consider having a separate transmission fluid cooler installed, even if you stay within the manual’s weight limits. This is especially important for pickup owners or anyone who tows a camping trailer or fifth wheel. Fluid coolers use circulating air to keep the temperature of the transmission fluid within safe limits.

6. If you park on concrete or asphalt, then every week or so check for leaks underneath your car. Any leaking liquid (other than clear water from the air conditioning system) is a danger sign; have the vehicle checked out immediately.

7. Once a year, have your vehicle checked out thoroughly by a qualified mechanic. If you drive more than 25,000 miles a year, then you may want to have your auto inspected every six months. This is important for catching minor issues before they become major problems. The money you spend on this measure will pay off with increased safety.

Today’s transmissions are far more complex than those built just a few years ago, making routine care indispensable. By following the simple tips in this article, you can extend the life of your vehicle, helping to ensure that you enjoy many, many miles of trouble-free driving.


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