How to Care for Your Car Transmission

The best way to prevent car transmission problems is to take good care of your transmission. Manual transmissions are pretty rare in the USA these days. Most cars are now sold equipped with automatic transmission. Either way, you need to take good care of your transmission to ensure that your ride lasts for a long time. You don’t want to be stuck somewhere because your transmission conked out on you.

A transmission uses the power generated by your car’s engines to rotate the wheels and make the car move efficiently. Through its different gears, you can climb a hill or speed through the highway. Without a good transmission, your car won’t move at all!

Watch the video below to understand how automatic transmission works.


Here’s how to maintain your car’s transmission

Check your owner’s manual for the maintenance schedule for your transmission.

Don’t rely on what your dealership or mechanic tells you. You need to be active in ensuring that the transmission fluid is at the right level. Most car manufacturers recommend transmission fluids to be changed every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. It is easy to neglect this. But if you consult your manual, you should be able to schedule this type of maintenance without a glitch.

You also need to make sure that you are using the correct transmission fluid for your car. Consult your owner’s manual to check the right fluid. If you want to do things the DIY way, don’t let your transmission fluid go beyond the line that indicates the maximum amount of fluid.

Your car’s transmission fluid’s color should be bright red. If your car has a dipstick for your transmission fluid, check it out and wipe the dipstick on a light-colored or white piece of cloth. It should also smell a little bit sweet. If you are not the DIY-type, please consult a professional if you want to drain and replace your transmission fluid.

While driving forward, don’t switch to reverse, especially if you are going fast.

The transmission system will be hard at work at making sure that your gears and your wheels are rotating correctly. But if you suddenly reverse while moving forward, this will put undue stress on your transmission, which will need to rotate the other way.

Avoid excess heat and make sure that the sensor is working.

Excessive heat can lead to damage in your transmission. Sometimes, though, the sensor in your transmission may get busted. This will lead to performance issues. A few weeks before writing this, my Kia Forte’s check engine light came on and when I checked, it gave the error code P0711. I brought to 2 shops, but the correct problem was only diagnosed by the third shop I consulted.

Thankfully, they only needed to replace the sensor instead of rebuilding or repairing the transmission. That ended saving me more than $1,500!

Turn off Overdrive when towing and don’t overload.

Because your vehicle will be pulling a heavy load, it is safer to turn off the overdrive. If you load too much, the transmission will work hard and it may lead to overheating and damage. Do check your manual to know the maximum towing capability of your vehicle.

Use hand brake when parking on a hill.

To avoid overloading your transmission while the car is parked on an incline, make sure to engage your hand brake or emergency brake. It also helps to turn the front wheels to the right or to the left to ensure that if it rolls down, it will hit the curb instead of rolling down the hill.

Transmission Problems that Require Attention

Most new cars should not have a lot of problems with their transmission. If you have an older car, or if you are not savvy in caring for your transmission, you should watch out for the following transmission problems.

Rough or slipping shifts

Does your car jerk when the gear shifts? Do you notice un-smooth gear shifts when accelerating or slowing down?

These shouldn’t happen. Your transmission should not slip and it should change gears smoothly. There shouldn’t be loud, clunking noise when it changes gears. In some cases, the car may not go into the right gear and that will affect performance and the car’s ability to climb inclines or go fast in the highway.

In some extreme cases, your car may simply refuse to engage its transmission and it refuses to move even though you keep pumping gas. In this case, you may need to call a towing service to help you bring your car to a nearby mechanic.

Also check if the car is slow to respond to changing gears, the acceleration is accompanied by some jerking motion, and if there sudden changes in your car’s RPM–you can easily check this on your dashboard information console.

Fluid Leak

Is there a leak under the engine roughly under the transmission fluid reservoir? Try putting a light-colored cloth or a cardboard under your car engine. If the leaking fluid is bright red or brown, it might be your transmission. You need to visit a shop right away.

The Check Engine Light comes on

You cannot ignore this! Go to an auto parts store and ask them to “read” the error code of your car. If they get an error code in the “P0700s,” you know that it is your transmission. Alternatively, you can also do the diagnosis yourself if you have an OBDII device.

Sometimes, a car’s transmission will simply go out because of its age. If you experience any problem with your car’s transmission, go to a good transmission shop. Don’t go to a “Total Care” shop because most of the time, these shops only provide basic service and repairs to your car. A transmission shop will be better equipped in diagnosing and providing solutions to your car’s transmission problems.

As long as you follow the recommended maintenance schedule of your car, you will void most of the mechanical, electrical, and other problems of a car. If you drive carefully and not abuse your car, it should be able to last a long time. But if problems occur (and they DO occur), make sure to consult a professional.

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