Your car needs water—but it has to be in the right place. In the radiator, it’s doing its job as usual. However, when it gets into other places—most notably, your transmission—then it can cause problems. How does water get into your transmission? What happens when the transmission gets flooded, and what can you do about it? Here’s what you need to know about when water floods your transmission.
How Water Gets Into Your Transmission
First, let’s address the issue of how water gets into your transmission in the first place. First, there could be a leak in your radiator. The water leaks out and gets mixed in with your transmission fluid. Check your transmission fluid. It’s supposed to be bright red. If it’s more of a milky pink, that means it’s diluted, and there’s water in there.
The water may also come in from outside. Your car is designed to withstand the elements, but that’s only as long as the water level doesn’t rise above a certain point on the car. If there’s a flood in your area, or you drive through a deep puddle, then water may reach the vent that keeps your transmission’s barometric pressure stable. If this happens, water can enter the transmission. Water may also enter through the dipstick tube, which then gets transferred into the transmission.
What Happens When Water Floods Your Transmission
Your transmission’s clutch plates use friction to transfer power from the engine. When water gets into the transmission—even a very small amount—it begins to dissolves the glue that holds the friction lining in place on the plates. Eventually, lining will come off the plates entirely, and the car will no longer be able to shift gears.
The mixture of water and glue then forms a gummy, white substance then ultimately spreads through the transmission fluid and makes the fluid difficult to flush out. Additionally, the water can simply cause the transmission’s metal parts to rust. If the problem isn’t caught quickly, it may require a complete transmission overhaul. All-in-all, water in the transmission is one of the most destructive things that can happen to an automatic car.
How to Get Water Out of Your Transmission
First, it’s important to spot the problem as soon as possible. If your car is in a flood, don’t start the engine before checking the transmission fluid for water. If you start the car, the water will be pulled into the transmission itself, making it much harder to remove.
If you manage to spot the problem in time, before turning on your ignition, then oftentimes the transmission fluid can simply be drained and replaced. However, if the water gets into the transmission itself, then the process is more complicated. Flushing the transmission may require several dozen quarts of fluid.
If you’ve been driving your car for a while with water in the transmission, then the problem is likely even more serious. The transmission may need to be replaced entirely.
As soon as you notice or suspect that your car may have water in the transmission, get it to a mechanic immediately. Have it towed if possible, rather than driving it, to reduce further damage. It’s a difficult, and often dangerous problem for your car to have, as well as, in most cases, an expensive one. But if you can spot the problem quickly and get it taken care of right away, you can minimize the damage and, with a bit of know-how, your car can be made good as new again.