Next to your vehicle’s engine, there’s no more important component than the transmission. Simply put, the transmission works hand-in-hand with the engine, shifting gears so that the appropriate amount of power is delivered to the wheels to ensure you’re able to drive at a target speed. But transmissions can experience a number of issues, such as gears slipping, rough or delayed shifting, or leaking fluid. While many transmission issues can be repaired, the cost is often significant. What’s more is that replacing a transmission that’s beyond repair can cost thousands of dollars. The good news is that staying on top of maintenance schedules and paying attention to the way you drive can ensure your transmission operates better for longer.
Here’s a look at how to keep it running smoothly:
Adjust Your Driving Behaviors
Simply changing your driving habits can help preserve your transmission for longer. For instance, don’t put your car into drive from reverse – or vice-versa – until the vehicle comes to a complete stop. Otherwise, you’re likely putting unnecessary strain on your transmission. Additionally, don’t tailgate other drivers or engage in a driving style where you’re constantly “riding your brakes.” Finally, it can be helpful for your transmission to have time to “warm up” during the winter months before you put your vehicle in gear. If you don’t have a remote car starter, just give it a minute after you start your engine every morning.
Check Your Transmission Fluid
Just as your engine needs oil to operate effectively and efficiently, your transmission relies on a special fluid. But similar to engine oil, this fluid can leak or dirty over time. We’ll get into the importance of transmission flushes in the next section, but it’s worth it to get into the habit of regularly checking transmission fluid levels – especially in older vehicles. Refill as needed and have any leaks repaired immediately.
Have Your Transmission Flushed
A good rule of thumb is to have your vehicle’s transmission flushed once every 30,000 miles, though it’s always best to refer to the owner’s manual for your particular vehicle. Similar to changing your vehicle’s engine oil, flushing the transmission will evacuate any dirty, old or burnt fluid from the system for fresh new fluid. Flushes can simply help extend the life of the vehicle transmission. In addition to having your transmission fluid flushed, make sure the filter is changed out for a new one as well.
Don’t Put Excessive Wear and Tear on the Engine
Aggressive driving, towing and driving on underinflated tires are often associated with putting excessive strain on the vehicle engine, resulting in more wear and tear and poor gas mileage. But these types of behaviors also have a trickle-down effect on the transmission.
Have it Routinely Inspected
In addition to the points that we ticked off above, the best way to maintain the health of your transmission is to make sure that you’re having it checked out when you take your vehicle in for routine repairs or oil changes. A professional can perform a thorough diagnostic check on the component, checking it for leaks, monitoring fluid levels and fluid quality, and looking out for any other issues that may need to be addressed.