3 Ways To Extend The Life Of Your Car's Transmission

A failing automatic transmission can often be a death sentence, especially for older vehicles with little value (or life) remaining. Unfortunately, replacing or rebuilding a transmission can often be cost-prohibitive, sometimes requiring many thousands of dollars. While these repairs may be unavoidable if you cannot afford a new vehicle, extending the life of your existing transmission is often a better option.

Unfortunately, many drivers may not realize their transmissions require maintenance or that their driving habits can impact their long-term reliability. No matter how old your car is, these three tips will help you extend the life of your transmission so you can avoid or delay a costly rebuild or replacement for as long as possible.

1. Know Your Vehicle's Limits

For the most part, modern automatic transmissions are reliable and robust. Normal driving habits should not substantially impact your transmission's reliability or cause major issues. However, certain driving behaviors can lead to transmission damage or even premature failure. In most cases, these issues arise from towing and hauling.

Knowing how to calculate your vehicle's payload and towing capacity is crucial if you do more than haul around your family and a few groceries. Exceeding your vehicle's limits will strain numerous components, including your transmission. Even if you are within your vehicle's capacity limits, drive gently when towing or hauling on significant grades, as these situations can overtax your transmission.

2. Be Aware of Problems

Many modern vehicles use sealed transmissions without dipsticks, making monitoring the internal fluid levels challenging (or impossible). However, you can often spot the early symptoms of a transmission fluid leak without checking the fluid. Transmission slipping and grinding are the most common issues, but you may also notice an acrid burning smell.

Since your transmission requires fluid as both a lubricant and coolant, low fluid levels can rapidly result in severe damage. Fortunately, quickly addressing fluid leaks can help you prevent damage and extend the life of your transmission. If you notice these early warnings, avoid driving your car and schedule an appointment with an experienced transmission repair shop as soon as possible.

3. Schedule Routine Maintenance

Routine maintenance is arguably the most important thing you can do for your transmission. Many automakers recommend routine automatic transmission fluid replacements, and your car may also have a replaceable transmission filter. Even if your manufacturer doesn't recommend changes, replacing your fluid is often a good idea at higher mileage.

If you've never serviced your car's transmission before, an experienced transmission service shop can recommend the best next steps. In most cases, simply staying on top of routine fluid and filter replacements will extend your transmission's life and avoid many major and potentially expensive problems.

For more information on auto transmission, contact a professional near you.