What You Need To Know About Keeping Your Transmission Healthy

Posted on: 29 September 2015

Transmission troubles cause costly repair bills and significant aggravation. Fortunately, there are ways that you can nurture your transmission to keep it functioning at optimal levels. Following are the three main things that you need to know about maintaining the health of your transmission.

Learn to Check Transmission Fluid

Checking and refilling transmission fluid is an important part of vehicle maintenance, and fortunately, you don't need a great deal of mechanical knowledge to properly perform this task. Simply locate the dipstick with the help of your owner's manual -- it should be in the transaxle in front-wheel-drive vehicles and sticking out of the transmission itself in vehicles with rear-wheel-drive. Transmission fluid levels should be checked when your vehicle is warm, so try to do so after returning from a drive. Otherwise, allow the engine to run for several minutes. Leave the engine running while you check the fluid, and always put your parking brake on for safety's sake and put your vehicle in neutral or park before you lift the hood to check the transmission fluid.

  • Check the quality of your transmission fluid first. It should be pinkish-red in color and free of significant debris. If it's a brownish color, has lots of particles in it, or smells as if it has been burned, it's time for a visit to the mechanic to have the fluid changed.
  • Check the level of the fluid after the quality check. If it's lower than the line in the tank indicated that it should be, simply top it off with the type of fluid appropriate for the make and model of your vehicle. Your owner's manual can tell you what type you need to use.

Never overfill your transmission with fluid, and always make sure to wipe the dipstick completely clean before putting it back in its place.

Learn to Recognize Transmission Trouble Signs

Signs of transmission trouble include difficulty shifting gears, a burning odor, bumping and banging noises when the vehicle is in neutral, a grinding noise when you change gears, and a simple lack of response when you change gears. You may also hear a humming or whining noise when attempting to switch gears. Along with being alert to these possible sings of transmission trouble, visually inspect the area where you normally park your vehicle for signs that its transmission fluid is leaking, and have your transmission fluid tank repaired as soon as possible after discovering a leak. 

Learn to Drive With Transmission Health in Mind

How you handle your vehicle has a significant impact on the health of your transmission. Always allow your transmission to come fully into gear before switching to a higher gear. Avoiding rapid accelerating and braking will help decrease wear and tear on your transmission. Never shift from drive to reverse -- or the other way around -- while the vehicle is moving unless you're prepared for hefty repair bills or for your car to be completely destroyed. Other strategies for maintaining your transmission include:

  • Not towing more than your vehicle can bear. Pulling too much weight can considerably damage your clutch, resulting in slipped gears and other transmission trouble. You can find the towing capacity of your vehicle in your owner's manual or on the manufacturer's website.
  • Refraining from spinning your wheels when you're stuck. The immense amount of heat this practice generates causes serious stress for transmissions. Carry kitty litter and two small, flat boards in your vehicle in the event that you get stuck so you won't be tempted to spin your wheels trying to get free.
  • Not ignoring small problems or putting off maintenance matters. Have that leak fixed immediately instead of waiting until next week.

With a bit of knowledge, you can keep your transmission in good condition and avoid costly repairs. For more tips, or if you think your transmission already has problems, contact a local shop that offers transmission repair.