Transmission Overheating? Learn How High Transmission Temperatures Cause Damage

Did you know that if your vehicle’s transmission overheats it can cause irreparable damage and reduce its longevity? One day you’re on the road boom; there it goes again. Your vehicle’s OBD warning light starts flashing and throwing p codes, indicating the transmission fluid is running hot right as you’re getting on the freeway to go home.

What’s the harm of trying to get home tonight with an overheating transmission and ignoring the check engine light until morning?

Ignoring an overheating transmission in your car, truck, or SUV is not only dangerous to you and your passengers it may end up costing thousands of dollars in repairs in the long run. High transmission temperatures can seriously impact a vehicle’s health, leaving you looking for a replacement in no time flat.

Wondering what transmission temperature is too high, indicating overheating?

The absolute highest temperature at which transmission can operate without overheating is 199 degrees Fahrenheit.  Simply take a look at this guide to learn all you need to know about what happens when your transmission temps exceed the ideal range.

Ideally, your transmission should run between 175 to 199 degrees Fahrenheit. At that temperature, the fluid flows nicely through all the passageways, keeping all the moving parts well lubricated.

Without succumbing to heat damage transmission fluid retains its key lubricative and cooling characteristics through the full-service interval of 30,000 to 60,000 miles depending on the manufacturer and model.

How can you tell that a car’s transmission fluid has not overheated previously?

Check the vehicle’s transmission fluid and inspect it closely to see if it exhibits any signs of overheating. If upon inspection of the transmission fluid dipstick you notice that it still looks relatively clean and doesn’t smell burnt it probably has not overheated recently.

However, in vehicles that have had their transmissions flushed, filters changed, and/or fluid lines replaced the signs of a vehicle overheating previously and sustaining damage may be masked. If you’re looking at buying a preowned vehicle, contact us to schedule a used car mechanic inspection so you can rest assured knowing whether it is in good working order.

What should you do if you suspect your transmission is overheating?

If you smell something burning and your transmission is slipping or shuddering we urge you to pull over to a safe area and give our team at My Transmission Expert a call. We offer free towing to the location nearest you for service and repairs. Please be safe.

At what temperature does internal transmission damage occur from overheating?

If you continue on your travels as temperatures rise through the 200s, you’re not far from experiencing catastrophic failure of your gearbox.  An automotive transmission is very likely to sustain damage at temperatures above 220 degrees Fahrenheit and above.

Just a 20-degree increase over the ideal range can begin to break down the transmission fluid, causing it to fail to keep moving parts cool and well lubricated. Beyond that, the fluid begins to leave a varnish on the gearbox internals, which results in increased friction and wear.

At what temperature do transmission seals begin to fail and cause leaks from overheating?

By 240 degrees Fahrenheit an overheated transmission and scalding hot fluid compromise the seals, compromising their integrity and causing leaks. As seals begin to harden and eventually become brittle the risk of transmission seal failure increases dramatically accelerating additional wear and damage to other components.

At what temperature does an overheating transmission start slipping and making shifting in and out of gear difficult?

By the time the temperature inside the transmission reaches 260 degrees Fahrenheit the fluid has likely already leaked out, the plates inside the gearbox begin to slip, and the transmission starts slipping. At this stage, you may notice vibrations and a jerking sensation as the transmission tries to shift down or up a gear.

At what temperature does overheating cause catastrophic transmission failure?

When the transmission overheats to a temperature near 295 degrees Fahrenheit the gearbox is likely to seize up completely causing catastrophic transmission failure.

The seals, plates, and clutches have failed and the gearbox is the last thing left.

You won’t make it far after that as your gearbox seizes up and fails to shift anymore. At that point, repairs are likely off the table, resulting in the need for either transmission replacement, rebuilding, or installation of a certified remanufactured transmission.

How can you prevent transmission overheating?

To prevent your transmission from running hot or overheating it is imperative that you follow the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended service and maintenance schedule.  It also helps to keep a close eye on your transmission temps. When the temperature increases by 20 degrees increment the life of your transmission is reduced by 50%.

How can you monitor a transmission’s temperature like a professional to prevent overheating?

Take a proactive approach to prevent transmission overheating like a pro with these tips.

  • Keeping your transmission fluid at the optimal level
  • Changing the fluid at the recommended service interval
  • Watching for signs of leaks in your driveway
  • Having your vehicle inspected regularly by transmission specialists

Your transmission fluid temperature light is always onboard to let you know when temps are on the rise, but if you suspect anything unusual or your transmission is slipping call a professional mechanic for a diagnostic exam.

If your check engine light is on and throws p codes, it means there is something wrong with your transmission. To protect the health of your gearbox bring your car into the shop for an inspection and diagnosis. After inspecting your vehicle and transmission a tech will present you with service recommendations.

Call a Mechanic if Your Transmission is Over Heating

If any of the circumstances above apply to your transmission, contact My Transmission Experts to get help. If repairs are not currently in your budget, we can help you get set up with a payment plan or financing for transmission repair or a new transmission.


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