Transmission fluid: it’s important. If you drive a vehicle with an automatic transmission, your vehicle won’t work without automatic transmission fluid. Manual transmission vehicles can also use transmission fluid as well but can also use something called transmission oil. Regardless, the principle is much the same. You need transmission fluid to operate your vehicle. But your transmission fluid will need changing occasionally. How do you know when that is? This article will go over everything you need to know about transmission fluid changes (but were afraid to ask).
Without transmission fluid, you’ll have nothing to lubricate the various components within your transmission. The transmission is not one solid unit but rather a piece of machinery that is comprised of many constituent parts. All those parts need to be working together just so in order for the transmission to operate properly. What’s more, things can get hot under that hood, so transmission fluid is key because it can help cool everything down. There is no transmission problem in the world that cannot be caused or at least exacerbated by a lack of transmission fluid. But it’s not just quantity. Degraded transmission fluid can also cause serious problems for your transmission.
How Often Do I Need To Check My Transmission Fluid?
You should check your transmission fluid every month. Using the dipstick under your vehicle’s hood, check your transmission fluid levels and if they’re not where they should be, top them up. If you find yourself topping up your fluid levels every month, you’ve got a problem. You either have a leak or your transmission is somehow evaporating your fluid at a quick pace. Check under your vehicle after you’ve been parked for a while to see if any transmission fluid is leaking. If you have a leak or can’t pinpoint the problem, bring your vehicle into a mister transmission shop where it can be inspected by technicians.
What Should Transmission Fluid Look Like?
Transmission fluid in good working order should be largely translucent with a reddish hue. If it is opaque, then the fluid has been damaged or degraded. If the fluid is foul smelling or smells of burning, this is indicative of a transmission problem.
How Often Do I Need To Change My Transmission Fluid?
This is perhaps the most common question when it comes to transmission fluid. How often are transmission fluid changes required? Well, if you notice your transmission fluid is damaged, you have to change it. But this will probably be after an inspection and any repairs have been conducted, so it’s likely this will be handled by a transmission technician. Barring any transmission problems, you should check your manufacturer’s guide to see how often they recommend changing your transmission fluid, because it can be different for every vehicle. Broadly speaking, you should change your transmission fluid every 45,000-80,000 kilometers. Perhaps more frequently if you use your vehicle for towing.
Which Transmission Fluid Should I Use?
Again, check your owner’s manual to see what the manufacturer recommends. Often with automatic transmissions, a synthetic transmission fluid is best.
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We really do tend to take our vehicles for granted. For many of us, they’re just a tool to get from Point A to Point B. But whenever we stop to actually think about it, this mundane tool of daily life is actually an incredibly complex and intricate invention. But we only tend to think about it when something goes wrong. When we can’t get from Point A to Point B, then we stop to think about our vehicle. And usually, we stop to complain about it. But the automobile really is a marvelous invention. And perhaps, the most intricate, complex, and impressive component of your vehicle is the transmission.
The engine generates energy. The axle makes the wheels turn, and the tires touches the road and spin, and thus propel your vehicle. But how does the energy from the engine get transferred to the axle and then on to the tires? The answer: the transmission. The transmission converts energy generated in the engine into the rotation of your wheels. So, it’s pretty important. And to do all of this is no mean feat. It requires dozens of parts all working in tandem to make a functioning transmission. And when even just one of those components isn’t operating properly, you got a problem. A transmission problem.
Transmission Fluid Problems
Transmission problems come in many forms. Some of them subtle, some of them obvious. Let us begin with the most visually obvious: the transmission fluid leak. If you see patches of reddish liquid pooling underneath your vehicle when you’re parked, then you have a transmission leak. The solution here is a transmission reseal. Sometimes one isolated spot needs a reseal; other times, a complete reseal is required. You don’t want to procrastinate here.
There is no transmission problem that cannot be caused or exacerbated by a lack of transmission fluid. But insufficient quantity of transmission fluid is only one problem. Insufficient quality is another. Transmission fluid can become degraded and burnt. If you check your transmission fluid and it smells bad or is discoloured and opaque, your transmission fluid should be flushed out and changed.
Other Transmission Problems
There a lot of problems that you can feel when it comes to the transmission. Shifting gears should be a smooth and easy process. But sometimes it’s not. Sometimes your transmission provides resistance and it grinds and clunks when you switch gears. This is a problem. On the other hand, transmissions can slip out of gear. This usually happens right after you have changed gears and it usually slips into neutral, but not always. This is a very dangerous transmission problem indeed.
Other problems are problems you can hear. Along with the with grinding noises transmission sometimes make when there’s a problem with switching gears, problematic transmissions sometimes make sounds while in neutral. These noises including whining and whining. All of these problems can have different causes and will require different solutions. Sometimes your vehicle’s onboard computer is sending or receiving mixed signals. Sometimes there’s a defective solenoid pack. Other times the transmission will have to be removed from the vehicle in order to find the problem.
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Mister Transmission offers the best transmission repair services money can buy. Having said that, you still don’t want to bring your vehicle in for a transmission repair if you can avoid it, regardless if you’re bringing it to Mister Transmission. Of course, it would be foolish to think you can drive a vehicle for its whole lifespan and never require a transmission repair. Nevertheless, you want to minimize the number of repairs needed as much as possible. To do that, you need to know the root causes of transmission problems. So…what are they?
Transmissions are incredibly intricate and complex, more so than most folks think. This is because, to many people, the transmission is one part of their vehicle: the transmission. But in actuality, the transmission is a series of parts working in concert to deliver the power generated by your engine to your wheels. And when even just one of those parts is not working, that can render your whole transmission ineffective. What this all means is that a lot can go wrong with transmissions. Even the best built transmissions can run into problems because they are inherently complex.
Common Transmission Problems
While it can sometimes be exceedingly tricky to pinpoint the exact problem with a transmission, there are several common transmission problems that we hear about at Mister Transmission all the time. Here are some of these common transmission problems:
- Hard Gear Shifts
When you shift gears, you expect the change to occur smoothly. But this is not always the case. Sometimes drivers notice resistance to the gear change. It can be difficult and it is sometimes accompanied by odd clunking and whirring noises. This is not good.
Some transmissions have the opposite problem. Sometimes it’s really easy to shift gears. Too easy. So easy in fact that your transmission does it for you. You can be driving along the highway and all of a sudden your transmission slips into neutral. This is definitely not good.
- Rejected Changes
Similar to slipping, sometimes a transmission can “reject” the driver’s gear change. For example, you might change into reverse only to have your transmission switch you right back into drive. All of these problems are annoying at best and dangerous at worst.
- Smells like Burning
This one is fairly obvious. If ever any part of your vehicle smells like it’s burning, you should get it checked out. Unless you just “burned rubber” out of the parking lot. Which you definitely shouldn’t do, by the way.
- Fluid Leak
As you pull out of your driveway, if you see a patch of liquid underneath your vehicle, you have a problem. Do not ignore it.
Transmission Fluid Problems
This last point is important. Not every transmission problem is caused by an issue with your transmission fluid. But there is no transmission problem that cannot be caused or worsened by a transmission fluid problem. If you’re low on transmission fluid, top it up. If your transmission fluid is damaged or burned –smells unpleasant, looks opaque– bring in your vehicle for a fluid change. And if you suspect you have a leak, bring in your vehicle for a transmission re-sealing.
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Transmission fluid is (almost literally) the lifeblood of the transmission. An automatic transmission simply won’t work without transmission fluid. Now, you would have to have a very large leak to have absolutely no fluid in your transmission. However, you still need to have the right level and the right quality of transmission fluid or else you’re inviting transmission problems to happen. To have your transmission in perfect working order, you might require a transmission fluid change.
Transmission fluid works as a lubricant and it is optimized for the functions of the transmission. These functions include valve operation, brake band friction, and the torque converter. Transmission fluid is required in all automatic transmissions. Some manual transmissions also use transmission fluid, but some use engine oil or gear oil.
Transmission Fluid Problems
Not all transmissions are the same; not even all automatic transmissions. But all transmissions experience wear and tear that can cause debris to collect in the fluid. Furthermore, there can be problems within transmissions that cause the fluid to be damaged or degraded, and this in turn can cause further problems.
And then there are leaks. Any transmission can fall foul of a leak. The key sign of a leak is a patch of reddish liquid that has collected underneath your vehicle as it is parked. Leaks have to be patched and the lost fluid needs to be topped up.
Symptoms of using Poor Quality Transmission Fluid
If the fluid in your transmission is lacking in either quantity or quality, you will begin to notice symptoms in how your transmission operates. You may experience a temporary delay while shifting gears. Your transmission may take a moment to register the gear shift. Your transmission might also grind or clunk when you shift. Alternately, your transmission might slip from one gear into another (usually neutral) which can be very dangerous. And without enough fluid, your transmission can become overheated.
Transmission Fluid Changes
You should periodically check your transmission levels using your dipstick. Sometimes you can lose some fluid without experiencing a leak. In this case, you can top of the transmission fluid yourself or you can bring it into a transmission shop for a top up.
Transmission fluid changes can sometimes be a bit more complicated. Typically a fluid change is required when the fluid has become degraded or burned. You might be able to tell this yourself. Normally, transmission fluid is translucent with a reddish hue. If your fluid is opaque and/or has a foul smell to it, it is probably damaged. Also, transmission fluid can pick up too much impure matter from wear and tear within your engine. If this is the case, it has probably been detected by a technician during a pan examination.
How Transmission Fluid Changes Work
You might be able to do a transmission fluid change on your own, depending on the type of transmission you have. But sometimes it is necessary (and always a lot easier) to bring it in to a transmission shop. Here, technicians can flush out the bad transmission fluid and change it with new, better quality fluid.
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If you would like to learn more about transmission fluid changes or if you’d like to bring in your vehicle for a transmission fluid change, please contact us today. Back