A transmission repair or maintenance doesn’t have to be intimidating. Keeping an eye on your transmission fluid and paying attention to how your car runs can make a huge difference to the life of your transmission and whole car. Taking good care of your transmission not only extends the life of your car, but also saves you money in the long run by preventing major repairs or even having to replace the transmission down the line. Let’s take a look at what your transmission fluid does that makes it so important, as well as ways you can tell whether it’s time to schedule a transmission fluid service with your trusted mechanic.
Your Transmission Fluid Works as Lubricant
Let’s start with the function of transmission fluid. There are a lot of moving parts inside your car’s transmission, many of which are metal. In order to keep them moving optimally, lower the risk of overheating, and minimize wear and tear, transmission fluid is used as a lubricant. Without this fluid to lubricate the moving parts, the friction will both damage the parts and also increase the heat produced from your transmission doing its job.
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Old, Dirty, or Low Transmission Fluid Will Damage Moving Parts
Over time, your transmission fluid will become increasingly dirty and contaminated just from doing its job. While that’s normal, if it goes too long, it can also cause some real damage to the working parts inside your transmission. The more contaminants are floating in the transmission fluid, the more they will rub against the metal parts, causing increasing wear. This is part of why it’s important to keep up with regular transmission fluid services at recommended intervals.
Take a Look at Your Transmission Fluid
Every few months, it’s a good idea to take a look at your transmission fluid, if possible. You can tell by the color, smell, and consistency of the fluid whether it’s time to schedule a transmission fluid service or whether you can wait a bit longer. Typically, fresh transmission fluid will be a bright red color, will smell somewhat sweet, and will be free from contaminants. Transmission fluid that should be replaced will be a darker red to brown color and will appear thicker from contaminants.
Transmission Fluid That Looks or Smells Burnt Means Trouble
When you check your transmission fluid, you do not want to see black fluid that smells burnt. This is a sign that you’re way past due for a transmission fluid service and your transmission may have actually been overheating, burning the fluid inside and making it ineffective. The working parts of your transmission may already have considerable damage, so you want to get your transmission checked out as soon as possible.
What Transmission Fluid Service Should You Get?
Once you’ve determined it’s time to schedule a transmission service, there are a couple of different options for getting new transmission fluid. One option is to simply have the current transmission fluid drained and replaced with fresh. This is a simple process that will give you nearly-all fresh transmission fluid, relying on gravity to remove it. Especially if you keep up with this service regularly, this could be adequate for keeping your transmission healthy.
A Transmission Fluid Flush Uses Pressurized Force to Clear Out the System
Alternatively, you could ask for a transmission fluid flush, which uses pressurized force to remove all of the old transmission fluid. This will ensure that all of the old contaminants are fully removed and won’t shorten the life of the fresh transmission fluid. If you have gone too long without replacing your transmission fluid, this is most likely what you want to do. It will ensure that all of the old contaminants are gone to minimize the damage done to those inner moving parts.
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