Costly transmission repairs can be avoided by taking simple, preventive measures. Ben Villafaña, owner of B & J Transmissions in San Jose, recommends following these tips for keeping your car’s transmission functioning to its highest potential.
Regularly check the fluid level. Few things are more important than a proper fluid level for keeping the transmission working correctly. Checking the level is easy; most cars have a dipstick for that exact purpose, and your owner’s manual will show you where it is and how to read it.
Promptly check transmission problems. Most transmission problems start out small and get worse over time. Get your transmission checked right away when you notice a warning light on the dash, see a few drops of fluid on the garage floor, or feel a change in the way the transmission operates. Preventive measures can save you major repairs and a lot of money.
Regularly service your transmission. Follow your manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, and get a complete fluid and filter change every year. It can add years to your transmission’s life.
Add a friction modifier to the fluid. There are a number of additives on the market that will significantly increase the life and reliability of your transmission. The best additives aren’t found in auto supply stores, so ask about friction modifiers when you’re having your transmission fluid changed.
Install an auxiliary cooler. The biggest reason for transmission failure is heat. At high temperatures, transmission seals begin to harden, clutches begin to burn and fluid breaks down. If your vehicle tows trailers, carries heavy loads, or operates on rough or mountainous terrain, an auxiliary cooler may help keep its transmission working properly.
Install a cooler line filter. Particles of dirt and metal can quickly erode thrust washer and bushing surfaces, clog up passages and reduce transmission life. The standard filters that eliminate these particles vary in effectiveness. One of the best ways to eliminate contaminants is to add an in-line filter to the transmission cooler lines. These filters are inexpensive and highly effective.
Service the cooling system. Your car’s cooling system cools the transmission fluid as well as the engine. A faulty cooling system can simultaneously damage the engine and reduce transmission life. In fact, transmission damage may occur long before the engine overheats.
Tune the engine. Engine problems put strain on the transmission, and a properly running engine helps a transmission last longer.
Help the transmission shift. Virtually all automatic transmission wear takes place during shifting. One way to decrease transmission wear is to reduce the load during the shift. Pay attention to your speed when the transmission shifts normally. Easing off the gas when you reach that speed will force the shift while reducing the load on the clutches.
Take your car to a transmission specialist. Regular service by a qualified specialist will extend the life of the transmission. General repair facilities usually don’t have the expertise to diagnose potential transmission problems early, before major repairs are required.
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