Transmissions Need Maintenance
Most makers today tell us that the automatic transmissions in our cars are “filled for life” on the assembly line and will never need servicing. But to take that advice on face value is to court disaster. The fluid in an automatic transmission is its lifeblood, it depends on it to operate efficiently over a long period of time and to ignore it is to risk an expensive meltdown.
Makers tell you automatic transmissions don’t need servicing but specialists in the field say regular maintenance is required to keep them working the way they should.
Regular Servicing Prolongs Transmission Life
It doesn’t matter what you’re told, oil does break down over time, and with high temperature its efficiency is reduced.
The service routine recommended by specialists for cars in normal use is to change the oil and filter every 12 months, or 20,000km, which ever comes first, and carry out a full flush of the transmission every two years.
For vehicles working in more punishing conditions, such as hilly terrain, on sandy tracks, using four wheel-drive, or towing regularly, those intervals should be reduced.
It’s also important to ensure the fluid doesn’t overheat, which usually happens because the transmission is worked too hard.
If you plan to tow with your vehicle on a regular basis consider having an external transmission oil cooler fitted.
Driving and Towing Tips
It’s also important to select the best gear in which to tow for the conditions.
On the flat it is OK to drive in top gear, which is usually an overdrive in modern five or six-speed gearboxes, but it is important to read the road ahead when you do that, and change down one, or even two gears, when approaching an incline or hill.
Leaving it in top gear will force the engine and transmission to work harder when you hit the hill, and the transmission temperature will rise as a result.
But selecting a lower gear on the approach will get you up and over the hill without excessive transmission stress.