No one wants to hear the words, “You need a transmission repair.” Transmissions are complex and notoriously expensive to repair – so how can you keep those repairs at bay? There are several ways you can help keep your transmission in good health and extend the life of all its inner parts, from keeping up with regular transmission maintenance to watching your driving habits.
Keep Up with Regular Transmission Maintenance
The best way to catch a necessary transmission repair before it turns serious is to keep up with regular maintenance services. Some of these are easily done from home, while others require keeping up with scheduling services at a repair shop.
Keep an Eye on Your Transmission Fluid
If you know how to check your engine oil, you likely know how to check your transmission fluid, too. Many automatic transmissions have a dipstick that you can use to check the level and consistency of your transmission fluid. Because your transmission is a closed system, if your fluid level is low, you have a leak that you should have a mechanic diagnose. Likewise, if the fluid is murky, dark-colored, or smells bad, you should schedule a transmission flush and have a mechanic look it over.
Make Sure the Right Transmission Fluid is Used
You likely will not be the one replacing transmission fluid in your car but it’s still a good idea to look out for signs that the wrong type has been used. If after a transmission flush you start hearing clunking, have trouble shifting gears, or experience stalling after changing gears, it’s important to get your car back to a mechanic to ensure the correct transmission fluid is used.
Schedule a Regular Transmission Flush
Generally speaking, it’s recommended you get a transmission flush once a year, though you should consult your owner’s manual for specific information regarding your car. Both the operating temperature and how much you drive will impact how long your transmission fluid will last but going too long without a transmission flush can cause damage and extra wear to the inside of your car’s transmission.
Have Your Cooling System Serviced
Most people only associate the cooling system and coolant level with your engine overheating. However, both the engine and transmission are at risk of overheating and therefore being damaged when the cooling system isn’t working efficiently. Keeping up with regular cooling system maintenance will help extend the life of both your engine and transmission.
Get an Annual Transmission Inspection
Along with getting an annual transmission flush, have a mechanic inspect your transmission for leaks and any other potential problems at least once a year. This will head off more major transmission repairs by catching parts that are wearing out before they cause more damage.
Driving Habits Can Save Your Transmission
Luckily, there are also ways to help preserve your car’s transmission without spending a penny. Pay attention to your driving habits and try to avoid doing these things, which can speed up the wearing down of parts in your transmission.
Come to a Full Stop Before Changing Gears
While it’s tempting to speed things up and shift into drive while your car is still moving backward, you risk causing more damage to your transmission. Shifting before coming to a complete stop puts more strain on your transmission and will mean more transmission repairs for you and your car.
Don’t Drive on a Spare Tire for Long
When you’re hit with an unfortunate flat tire, don’t abuse that spare. It’s best to get your car to an auto repair shop as soon as possible to get a new tire put in place. Driving with mismatched tire sizes, including a spare tire that’s meant to be temporary, will put unnecessary strain on your transmission.
Avoid Towing Too Much
Every car has different towing limits, so it’s a good idea to refer to your owner’s manual when in doubt. However, always err on the side of caution and avoid towing too much, too often. Especially during the warmer months, towing can cause transmission fluid to oxidize or burn, which is then going to damage parts in your transmission.
Don’t Put Off a Transmission Repair, Call AAMCO Bay Area
Whether you need a proper transmission repair or just want to keep up with regular transmission maintenance, head over to your nearest AAMCO Bay Area location. Our expert mechanics are trained to accurately diagnose and repair any problems you’re having with your car to get you safely back on the road.