Transmission On Its Last Legs? How Can You Extend Its Life?

If you've begun to notice a change in the way your vehicle shifts, or strange noises or motions when transitioning from gear to gear, you may be experiencing the first signs of transmission failure. While this can be a dismaying prospect, there are a few things you can do to help get as much remaining life out of your transmission as possible -- allowing you to save up the funds needed for repairs or decide whether to replace your vehicle. Read on for three transmission-saving tips.

3. Check it out

The first thing you should do after noticing a change in your vehicle's shifting patterns is to take it to a transmission shop or dealership for a full evaluation and tune-up. The shop will drain and refill your transmission fluid (you may want to request synthetic fluid, as it lasts longer) and may be able to let you know which specific transmission components are failing.

They should also be able to let you know whether your transmission needs to be replaced immediately or if you can reasonably expect to get another several hundred or thousand miles from it.

2. Play it cool

Another factor that can extend (or shorten) the life of your transmission is heat. Running your transmission at a slightly hotter than normal temperature can cause your transmission to fail early, while running it at a much hotter than normal temperature may have immediate negative effects. A transmission shop may opt to install a separate cooling fan or other system that will help direct hot air and fluids away from your transmission as much as possible. 

You'll also want to avoid excessive idling (like in a drive-thru or a parking garage), as sitting still for long periods of time can often cause the slight rise in vehicle temperature that leads to early transmission breakdown. 

1. Minimize your shifting

In a vehicle with a manual transmission, it's very easy to control the shifting patterns. However, you can exercise similar control even with an automatic transmission. Pay attention to the speeds at which your vehicle shifts from one gear to another, and avoid staying at the speeds that cause frequent back-and-forth shifting.

Each transmission (even brand new ones) have a limited number of "shifts" in them, and you don't want to use your remaining shifts too quickly. By taking these steps to avoid unnecessary wear and tear on your transmission, you can ensure that you get as much use as possible before repairing or replacing it.

To learn more, contact a company like Joe's Transmissions Services Inc. with any questions you have.