Just like your engine, the transmission can overheat and cause serious problems within your vehicle. In fact, overheating is one of the most common sources of transmission failure. It generally happens because of transmission fluid issues. Either you are too low on transmission fluid, or the fluid itself is old, burnt or dirty and just not providing the necessary lubrication and cooling properties throughout the system. Internal transmission components can fail or get worn out, when can then accumulate into more problems if left unresolved. Friction and heat can build up to dangerous levels and will eventually cause the transmission to fail.
Your vehicle’s computer will generally tell you when the transmission temperature is getting too hot. When that warning light comes on, you should stop driving and let the vehicle cool down completely. If the transmission continues to overheat, you should get your vehicle to a transmission repair shop as soon as possible. Otherwise, here are a few other ways to help prevent an overheating transmission:
1. Check Your Transmission Fluid
Just like you might check your engine oil periodically, you can also make it a good habit to check your transmission fluid level and quality. If the level is low or the fluid looks to be in bad shape, you may be due for a transmission service. You might also have a fluid leak to resolve. Be careful if attempting to top-off the transmission fluid yourself. Make sure you are using the correct automatic transmission fluid (ATF) for your vehicle. There are many different types and using the wrong kind can cause even more problems within your transmission system.
2. Take Care of Routine Transmission Maintenance
You should get a standard transmission service periodically if you want to keep your transmission running its best. The intervals between services may range anywhere from 30,000-60,000 miles, or even more often if you are pushing your vehicle more than the average driver. This may include mountain driving, stop-and-go city traffic, a lead foot or regularly carrying/towing heavy loads. A standard transmission maintenance service will include replacing the transmission fluid, transmission filter and transmission pan gasket, as well as cleaning the pan itself.
3. Take Care of Minor Repairs
If you notice any signs of transmission problems, you shouldn’t wait too long to address it. Get your vehicle inspected by a transmission specialist and replace any worn parts like gaskets, transmission bands, clutches, solenoids or sensors. Minor repairs can save you a lot of money down the road by preventing major transmission failures.
4. Consider an External Cooling System
Your vehicle’s cooling system helps keep the engine and transmission from overheating, but sometimes it is just not enough. Some larger trucks and work vehicles that tow heavy loads or work in extreme conditions may benefit from an external transmission cooling system. If transmission overheating is a regular problem or concern, talk with your mechanic about the pros and cons of adding or upgrading a transmission cooler.
5. Consider a Deeper Transmission Pan
Another modification to consider will be installing a deeper transmission pan. This will allow for more transmission fluid to be stored and flow properly throughout the system. Again, this is usually only for more extreme situations and larger vehicles, but it may be something to consider. Aluminum pans dissipate heat better than steel pans, so that may be another alternative to consider depending on what type of pan your vehicle currently has.
These are some of the ways to help prevent transmission overheating and other common sources of transmission failure. It’s important to take care of your transmission and especially your transmission fluid.
If you are experiencing transmission trouble in the Central Valley, contact Ralph’s Transmission today. We can offer free towing within 30 miles of our Modesto shop and we’ll provide a free initial inspection to help you figure out what’s wrong. We can also help with regularly scheduled transmission maintenance services if you are simply due for a fluid exchange. Call us at 209.526.1909 or schedule your service appointment online.