5 Most Common Mistakes That Your Auto Transmission Needs Repairs
Want to save money on auto transmission repairs? If so, you’ll need to make sure you’re doing your part to protect your transmission from premature wear and preventable damage.
At Marshall’s Transmission Service in Collinsville, IL, we’re often asked for tips on how drivers can prolong the life of their transmission and avoid common issues such as transmission overheating.
Here are the 5 most common mistakes drivers make that can cause a transmission problem:
1) Shifting Gears While Vehicle Is Moving
One of the most common mistakes drivers make is shifting gears on their auto transmission before their vehicle comes to a complete stop.
In a car, van, or truck equipped with auto transmission, moving the gearshift into park or reverse while the vehicle is still moving grinds and chips the gear teeth inside the transmission. Once the gears are worn down, you’ll begin to notice serious transmission problems such as shaking, shuttering, and trouble accelerating.
2) Using the Wrong Auto Transmissions Fluid
Conventional automatic transmissions are lubricated and cooled with a highly refined oil called Automatic Transmission Fluid, better known as ATF. Continuously Variable Transmissions, or CVTs, use a special type of AFT known as CVT fluid.
There are a number of types of ATF available today, and each type comes in a range of variants. Most vehicles require a DEXRON or Mercon ATF, and these fluids come in a variety of grades as well as conventional and synthetic versions.
Vintage pre-1980 cars often require Type F ATF, while some high-performance import vehicles from Saab, Porsche, and Audi use Highly Friction Modified, or HFM, transmission fluid.
Using the wrong type of ATF, or putting ATF into a vehicle with a CVT, can cause serious transmission problems such as transmission overheating, and that often leads to a costly repair bill.
3) Exceeding the Manufacturer’s Recommended Weight Limits
Auto manufacturers specify the cargo weight rating based on the year, model, and engine size of each vehicle they build. Known as the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating or GRWR, this specification is usually listed in the owner’s manual. It’s also readily available online and from the dealership.
Exceeding the GRWR can lead to transmission overheating, and that can trigger trouble with the solenoid and burn the transmission fluid. Keep in mind that the GRWR is the maximum weight that a particular vehicle can carry. The GRWR includes the combined total weight of the driver, passengers, and the cargo in or on the vehicle.
The GRWR also includes the gross trailer weight or GTW. Exceeding the GTW can lead to a host of serious issues ranging from transmission damage to difficulty with steering and braking. Even towing within the weight limits recommended by the manufacturer can cause premature transmission wear and shorten the life of your transmission fluid — that’s why many mechanics suggest carrying or towing no more than 80% of the maximum GRWR.
4) Failing to Keep Up With Regular Auto Transmission Maintenance
Modern transmissions are designed to be long-lasting and fairly low-maintenance. It’s still important to stick with the manufacturers’ recommended maintenance schedule. After all, it’s far cheaper to have your transmission maintained than it is to have it repaired, rebuilt, or replaced.
Generally speaking, most drivers should have their transmission serviced at least once every 24 months. High-mileage vehicles, performance cars, and SUVs should be inspected by a transmission specialist frequently.
Drivers who are often in stop-and-go traffic should also have their transmission serviced frequently. Harsh driving conditions can cause transmission fluid to break down sooner than you might expect. This can lead to transmission overheating, leaking seals, and poor driving performance.
5) Ignoring Auto Transmission Trouble Warning Signs
It’s exceptionally rare for transmission to work perfectly one day, then fail the next day. As with most mechanical issues, there are often warning signs that there could be a problem with your transmission. Ignoring these signs can ruin your transmission.
Be aware of any unusual noises or performance issues such as rattling, grinding, and hesitation when you’re accelerating. Don’t ignore odd, burning smells, as depleted transmission fluid gives off a distinctive odor. Keep an eye out for leaks. Running your vehicle without enough transmission fluid will quickly overheat your transmission. This can also cause the gears to seize up.
To learn more about how you can protect your vehicle against common transmission issues and save money on your car maintenance, contact our team of licensed and insured transmission experts here at Marshalls Transmission Service in Collinsville, IL.