There are a number of possible vehicle issues that can arise for a few different reasons, and one of these is a failed transmission. While many of the reasons your transmission could fail relate to simple aging and wear-and-tear, there are also certain common mistakes or tendencies we’ve found some drivers to have that will ruin a transmission much faster than it should ever wear out.
At Tip Top Transmissions & Automotive, we’re happy to offer numerous automotive transmission services to varying clients throughout Salt Lake City and nearby areas, from transmission repair to transmission rebuilds and everything in between. We’re also here to advise our clients on how to maintain a quality transmission and avoid major repair or replacement needs, including those who have had transmission problems in the past. With this in mind, here are a few of the most common mistakes we see from clients with regard to their transmissions, plus why to stay away from each of these risks.
Running on Low Transmission Fluid
Perhaps the single most common issue we see that leads to transmission failure is when a driver lets their transmission fluid get too low, and then drives for an extended period of time without having the issue addressed. This can cause severe damage to your transmission, as well as a host of other potential vehicle problems.
Transmission fluid is vital for several different reasons. Not only does it keep all of the moving parts within your transmission system lubricated to reduce friction and wear, but it also helps to dissipate heat away from these sensitive components. When you run low on fluid, not only are the moving parts at risk of overheating and failing as a result, but they’re also more likely to grind against each other and cause serious damage.
If you think you may be low on transmission fluid, it’s important to address the issue as soon as possible. Check your owner’s manual to find out where your transmission dipstick is located, and then check the fluid level according to the instructions provided. If it’s low, add more until it reaches the “full” line. You may also want to have your vehicle’s transmission system flushed and refilled by a professional if it’s been a while since this service was last performed.
Using the Wrong Transmission Fluid
Just as damaging as running low on transmission fluid is using the wrong type of fluid altogether. Every vehicle is different, and as such, they all require a specific type and grade of transmission fluid. This information can be found in your owner’s manual under the “specifications” section.
If you use the wrong type of fluid in your transmission, it can cause all sorts of problems. The wrong fluid may not be able to properly lubricate the moving parts, for instance, leading to increased friction and wear. Additionally, it may not be able to effectively dissipate heat, which can cause your transmission to overheat and fail.
It’s important to only use the type of fluid specified in your owner’s manual. If you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to ask a professional for help.
Not Responding to Warning Signs
Like any other system in your vehicle, your transmission will give you warning signs when it’s starting to fail. These can include everything from grinding or shaking while in gear to leaking fluid or trouble shifting gears. You may also notice a dark red fluid that stains your driveway or garage floor, which is a telltale sign of transmission trouble.
If you notice any of these issues, it’s important to have your transmission checked out by a professional as soon as possible. Ignoring these warning signs will only lead to further damage and an increased chance of complete failure. In some cases, you may be able to have your transmission repaired instead of replaced if you catch the problem early enough, and this could save you some major money.
Allowing Frequent Overheating
High fluid temperatures are another major culprit in transmission failure. When your transmission fluid gets too hot, it can begin to break down and degrade, which can lead to a host of problems. Additionally, hot fluids are less effective lubricants, meaning the moving parts in your transmission are more likely to grind against each other and cause damage.
There are a few different things that can cause your transmission fluid to overheat. Frequent stop-and-go driving, towing heavy loads, and even extreme temperatures can all contribute to higher-than-normal fluid temperatures. If you find that your transmission fluid is frequently overheating, it’s important to have your vehicle checked out by a professional as soon as possible.
Failing to Service the Transmission
Just like many other vehicle components, your transmission needs to be serviced on a regular basis in order to keep it in good working condition. This typically involves draining the old fluid and replacing it with fresh, clean fluid. Many experts also recommend having your transmission flushed and refilled every 30,000 miles or so to help prevent problems down the road.
If you neglect to service your transmission according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, you’re much more likely to experience problems. Over time, the old fluid will become contaminated and degrade, which can lead to all sorts of transmission issues. To avoid this, be sure to keep up with your regular transmission service schedule.
These are just a few of the most common mistakes that can lead to transmission failure. If you’re having trouble with your transmission, or if you just want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep it in good shape, be sure to avoid these common errors.
For more on this, or to learn about any of our transmission services or other auto repair solutions in or around SLC, contact our pros at Tip Top Transmissions & Automotive today.