Making the most of Transmission Fluids

What is Transmission fluid? Transmission fluid is the liquid that serves the function of a lubricant for all of the moving parts inside your transmission. Transmission fluid in your automatic transmission, functions as a coolant and utilizes its viscous nature to transmit power from the engine to the transmission.

There are mainly two types of transmission fluids.One is for manual transmissions and the other used for automatic transmissions. The market is flooded with a variety of transmission fluids that are used for either of these transmissions. Automatic transmissions use automatic transmission fluid while the manual transmissions make use of a large variety of oils ranging from regular motor oil or heavyweight hypoid gear oil to even automatic transmission fluid.The best guide to tell you which transmission fluid to use is your owner's manual.

Your owner's manual not only tells you which transmission fluid to use but also when and how to use it. What you can be sure of,is that whenever it is recommended you should definitely use this service.Strict adherence of preventive maintenance schedule listed by your owners manual will help you save a lot in terms of avoiding costly repairs.Here we list some general guidelines which you need to checkout with your owners manual.Your owners manual is customized to your cars needs and always supercedes any of the general recommendations.
General recommendation made by most manufacturers is to change the manual transmission fluid every 30,000 to 60,000 miles that your car covers. However if your vehicle is under heavy-duty use, it is prudent to change transmission fluid every 15,000 miles.for an automatic transmission General recommendation by most manufacturers is to maintain fluid Service intervals not less than every 30,000 miles. Normally a typical Automatic fluid service interval ranges from 60,000 to 100,000 miles. The service interval recommended is always to be considered as the time when you need to change the Automatic transmission fluid. If you decide to change it sooner it would do no harm to the system.

Reasons Why you should change transmission fluid:

Transmission fluid is the medium that helps lubricate as well as propel your vehicle by transmitting power from one moving part to the other.To achieve this it should possess definte characteristics in terms of viscosity and purity. With running time, in terms of miles covered the transmission fluid tends to lose these essential characteristics and this can harm the well being of your car.Here is why you need to change the transmission fluid as and when recommended in your owners manual:
  • In Manual transmissions:
For vehicles on manual transmission, the culprit to be handled is the fluid contamination. It is by now common knowledge of all car owners that synchronizers, bearings and gears in the transmission wear out with running for a period of time. This throws in contaminants into the transmission fluid. The contaminants are obviously metal particles and surely metal particles do not help in lubricating the system. Surely the transmission fluid loses its lubricating properties and this is not good for smooth running of your car.What you need at this point of time is fresh clean transmission fluid. If you do not change by draining the contaminated oil and filling up fresh clean transmission fluid you can end up by shortening the life of your transmission.
  • In Automatic transmissions:
For automatic transmission it is the degradation of the automatic transmission fluid due to it breaking down with use that makes change of oil necessary.The degradation resulting in the Automatic transmission fluid losing its characteristics is mainly caused by the heat that is generated in an automatic transmission system. Besides there is also to a lesser extent contamination of the automatic transmission fluid with worn bits of the transmission. The contaminants are to be drained out, in order to avoid reduction in the life of your transmission.

Preventive maintenance is sound investment:

It is a wise decision to stick to schedules and change the transmission fluid.Only your mechanic stands to gain if you choose lubricating your transmission with metal shavings and other contaminants. It is always a sound investment to change your transmission fluid at the scheduled interval.

Checks between scheduled intervals:

It is always advisable to check oil levels between scheduled intervals.

If you make it a habit to regularly check the transmission fluid level between service intervals you will be able to ensure that your car is never low on transmission fluid.Being low on transmission could damage the internal parts of your transmission.Low on transmission can cause the transmission to shift improperly or even not at all shift.
Automatic transmission problem can make your car unsafe - some transmission defects may cause, for example, that the car can roll with the shifter in Park or drive forward with shifter in Neutral. All this, sooner or later, results in transmission failure. On the other hand, if you are taking a good care of it, your transmission can last you really long with no significant problems.

Since you may not hear any unusual noises or get any other indication of your transmission being low on fluid, until the damage is done, it's vital that you keep transmission fluid check always on your priority list.

Unlike engine oil, transmission oil doesn't burn up. So if you're low on transmission fluid, you almost certainly have a leak.

Here's how you can check your transmission fluid level:
  • In Manual transmissions:
If your car has manual transmission check if there is a dip stick provided by the manufacturer. If it is not, then ask your mechanic to do the check of the fluid level when your car is up on the lift during an oil change. He will take not more than a minute.But you can be sure of having saved a treasure by not risking a transmission failure.
  • In Automatic transmissions:
All automatic transmissions as a rule will have a dipstick.Choose the transmission dipstick and not the crankcase dipstick when you pick up the dipstick to measure the transmission fluid level.

Check your owner's manual, to see manufacturers’ recommendations for the procedure.For most cars, checking the automatic transmission fluid consists of pulling the transmission dipstick out while the engine is warmed up and running and with the transmission in park.

Dipsticks are color-coded to match particular fluids they are measuring. For instance see the ring to the right is red so as to match the automatic transmission fluid recommended level which this dipstick measures. Similarly the yellow ring denoting "engine oil” too is clearly marked.

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