A transmission is built to last about 100,000 miles with just a minimum of care. But, if you’re an average driver that puts 15,000 miles per year on the odometer, that’s only 7 years. It’s with regularly scheduled maintenance and good driving practices that can extend the life of a transmission to twice this number.
3 Signs of a Bad Transmission
When a transmission begins to fail, it’s pretty easy to notice the telltale signs that you may have a problem. Aside from the obvious transmission fluid leak, here are 3 of the first signs that your transmission is performing badly:
- Gear Problems – these include a transmission that won’t stay in gear or when the transmission slip in and out of gear
- Shifting Problems – a significant delay when shifting gears, which could cause overheating and further transmission damage.
- Noise or Smells – Worn bearings or bad seals can cause clicking, buzzing, or humming noises, while a burning smell may indicate a fluid leak.
Tips for Better Transmission Performance
Flush Transmission Fluid – No matter what the factory recommendation is, the transmission fluid and cooler lines should be flushed every 40,000 miles. This process is better than a fluid drain and replace because it not only forces out old fluid, sludge and other contaminants – it also clears the narrow passages where fluid flows throughout valves within the transmission body.
Maintain Fluid Levels – Transmission fluid performs multiple functions, cooling the engine, lubricating all parts of the gearbox, and in the case of an automatic transmission – the fluid actually allows the cars to move. Take the time to check your transmission fluid levels whenever you check the engine oil levels. A low or empty transmission fluid reservoir can mean extensive costs to repair or replace your transmission.
Upgrade to Synthetic Fluid – Standard transmission fluids are petroleum based. But, when you upgrade to a synthetic, expect the fluid to hold its lubricating properties longer and synthetic transmission fluids can take more heat. Other benefits of synthetic fluids for automatic transmissions include: smoother shifting, fewer fluid changes, longer transmission life, less rust and oxidation, and better viscosity.
Choosing the right synthetic transmission fluid is critical. Even though synthetic fluids cost more, expect your transmission to perform at a higher level and last longer when you make the switch. Want to keep your transmission performing at top levels? Here are some driving practices to avoid that can damage your transmission:
- Not using emergency brakes when parking on a hill
- Excessive spinning of tires and fast starts from 0 mph
- Rocking between gears when stuck in snow/ice/mud
- Driving without warming the car in frigid temperatures
- Overloading the vehicle with too much weight