How To Prevent and Detect Transmission Failure

A transmission is a critical component of an automobile. A busted transmission is not like a burnt out headlight. A car cannot function without a working transmission.

So, when it comes to car maintenance tasks, upkeeping your transmission should be near the top of your list. Transmissions are that important. Plus, if you ignore the signs of a failing transmission, you can make matters worse by neglecting the problem.

What can you do to prevent transmission failure? And what signs can you look for to detect transmission failure? Let’s discuss how you can avoid a transmission catastrophe by being proactive.

Monitor the Transmission Fluid

A transmission relies on transmission fluid to operate properly. The fluid lubricates the metal parts of the gearbox and without it, the gears will not spin.

Similar to other fluids inside your automobile, the transmission fluid needs to be monitored. It will deteriorate in quality and quantity over time.

Track Fluid Levels

Low fluid levels can cause the system to overheat and even lead to complete transmission failure. When you attempt to accelerate, the transmission may lose the ability to shift into the correct gears, or the gears will slip entirely. This can create a grinding sensation when you try to move your car and keep your car from moving as it should.

Visible smoke and abnormal smells are additional indicators of low fluid. The transmission fluid acts as a coolant to ensure parts of your transmission do not overheat. If you notice a burning smell or see smoke coming from your car, these signs could be the result of low transmission fluid.

Do Not Overfill the Transmission Fluid

High fluid levels can be just as damaging as low fluid levels. If your transmission fluid is low, do not try to remedy the problem by overfilling.

When overfilled, the fluid mixes with air. This creates a foamy substance and that foam inhibits proper lubrication, which can lead to difficult or delayed shifting.

Excessive fluid also impacts pressure levels. The extra pressure created by the extra fluid can break areas that should be sealed, which can cause the transmission to overheat. Ruptured seals can lead to permanent transmission damage.

Check the Fluid Color

Dirty or contaminated transmission fluid is harmful to your automobile as well. The color of your transmission fluid can tell you a lot about the condition of your fluid.

Transmission fluid in good condition should be translucent and have a reddish-pink tone to it. Transmission fluid in poor condition can appear dark brown or black in color as it darkens with age and use.

Transmission fluid can contain contaminants, too. As the drive train, gears, and teeth of your transmission deteriorate, metal shavings or particles can get into your transmission fluid.

Change Out the Transmission Fluid

If the color or consistency of your transmission fluid looks off, do not delay changing out the fluid. Transmission fluid changes are vital to the wellbeing of your transmission.

The transmission fluid in an automatic car can last longer than a manual car. To know when you should change out the transmission fluid in your car, it is best to check the owner’s manual. Some vehicles might need the transmission fluid changed at 30,000 miles, and others might not need new fluid until closer to 100,000 miles.

Care for Your Car

While monitoring the level and condition of your transmission fluid can prevent transmission hiccups, how you treat your vehicle can also impact the longevity of your transmission.

  • Use your emergency brake – Use your emergency brake to decrease the wear and tear on your transmission, especially when parked on an incline.
  • Warm your car up – You’ve probably heard that age-old advice to let your vehicle warm up on cold winter days. Well, it’s sound advice. Get that fluid flowing through your transmission before you punch the gas.
  • Switch gears with care – Always switch gears properly. Come to a complete stop before shifting into park. If you drive a manual transmission, do not skip gears.
  • Avoid overload – Excessive weight in or on your automobile can strain the transmission or even cause it to overheat. Overloading your vehicle beyond its normal capacity is not recommended.
  • Tow smartly – If you plan to put excess weight on your vehicle, be smart about it. Towing precautions can save your transmission. For example, install an auxiliary cooler to help your transmission run cooler during a tow. Also, make sure not to tow while in overdrive.

Be Proactive

Last but not least, play it safe and get your vehicle checked out if you see signs of transmission failure. Slipping gears as well as grinding, shaking, or jerking can indicate transmission problems. Unusual sounds or irregular smells should always be investigated. Leaking fluid is never good.

Small problems become big problems when not addressed in a timely manner. By being proactive, you can save yourself thousands of dollars in car repairs.

And if your transmission decides to misbehave at the worst of times, give Roadside Rescue a call. Our WreckMaster-certified technicians can help you no matter the time of day.