Vehicle Overheating

Contaminated or burnt fluid that contains particles can indicate overheating problems in the transmission.

An overheated vehicle is a common cause of mechanical breakdown and can be the cause of significant engine and transmission damage, therefore establishing the problem associated with the overheating is important for maintaining a well-running vehicle.

What’s that smell?

If a driver while running a vehicle smells something burning while driving, it could be a sign of a transmission that is overheating or leaking transmission fluid onto the exhaust. The transmission fluid is what keeps the moving parts in the transmission lubricated, as well as providing a cooling system for the transmission to prevent it from burning out.

Transmission fluid should be a translucent reddish brown color. Contaminated or burnt fluid that has particles in it can indicate problems in the transmission from overheating. If the fluid has a varnished look it is an indication of repeated overheating of the transmission.

Use the dipstick test

Drivers can check their fluid color by taking out the dipstick, cleaning it with a cloth and then re-inserting it into the fluid chamber. If the transmission fluid has any particles in it, than the driver should have a transmission expert check the vehicle and change the fluid. Driving with particles in transmission fluid can cause the transmission filter to become clogged, so draining and replacing the transmission fluid can sometimes solve overheating problems. However, other times the fluid color is an indication of bigger transmission problems. Make sure your transmission expert knows of your problems to ensure your vehicle continues to run optimally.

Clutch problems can cause transmission problems, which lead to overheating. The clutch, which is located within the torque converter, can become jammed. If the clutch is jammed, the solenoid can also become locked which means that the amount of transmission fluid needed could be incorrectly calculated and problems similar to low fluid levels can occur. Violent shaking of the car as well as producing high heat and a lower power output can result if this jam occurs.

What to know when towing

When a vehicle is towing anything or has been running at high speeds in warmer temperatures the transmission fluid should be checked regularly as anything that adds extra stress to the engine can cause transmission fluid to overheat. Rocking a car after it has become stuck in sand or snow can also cause high levels of heat in the transmission and engine in a short period of time. Digging out a vehicle or towing is the best option for your transmission. Warming up a vehicle so that the fluid is at optimal operating temperature is also recommended.

If a vehicle is towed, ensure that it is correctly done! Rear wheel vehicles must be towed with the rear wheels off of the ground, and front wheel vehicles with the front wheels off of the ground. Four-wheel drive vehicles should have no wheels on the ground. Improper towing can cause serious damage to the transmission, so make sure to check the owner’s manual before hooking up the vehicle.

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