Whether you’re in the top 3.9% of manual transmission car owners or not, transmission maintenance should be a top priority.
Yes, manual and automatic transmission alike, you’ll have to take a look under the hood from time to time. 200,000 miles on a transmission isn’t a dream anymore, since most modern cars should have a gearbox that can take it. The vital component?
Your due diligence. Time to see what that could mean.
Want to see if you can take it to the redline? Start your engines and keep reading!
Fluid Check: Keep It Up
Transmissions only work because the fluids allow for just enough slip that the gears can switch without creating too much friction. Over time, that friction burns away transmission fluids and wears on your gears. It’s unavoidable, but we can slow the process of wear and tear down dramatically by making sure the fluids are kept at normal working levels and at low grades of contamination.
Healthy fluids should be red in color, clear, and a sweet smell. If it has a fishy smell, or is murky, you could have more wear than you thought. A low level could indicate a leak or burning. You’ll need to take it in to make sure.
Some newer transmissions also need special tools just to check the fluid, so if you can’t find your transmission fluid don’t panic. You’ll have to take it to a mechanic that deals in your make of vehicle.
(Don’t) Gimme a Brake
Excessive breaking doesn’t just wear down your brakes, but causes excessive downshifting. If you are a manual transmission user and you let your engine do your braking for you (engine braking) by successive downshifting, you’re wearing your transmission. Since brakes are an easier and cheaper replacement it’s not a bad idea to limit engine braking to only necessary situations, unless you’re very attuned to your car.
Automatic transmission owners who brake excessively, rather than coast, should also be wary. Your transmission is computer-controlled to change gears optimally. Essentially, engine braking done right.
Gear Up — And Stay There
It can be hard at times to keep track of what gear you’re in if you’re changing it a lot or are inexperienced. Keeping your gear in first on a 45 mph road often, even for a half-mile or so, can lead to early transmission repair. Even if you aren’t redlining it, keeping it at high revs will build up unnecessary heat in the engine and the gearbox, wearing down your gears and burning fluids off.
This is more of an issue with inexperience, so it could mean getting tips from more experienced drivers.
Transmission Maintenance: Your High Gear Tips
So, what did you learn? We hope you learned that transmission maintenance doesn’t have to be a bear and isn’t nearly as in-depth or costly as replacement or repair.
Manual transmissions may have a reputation for being most fuel-efficient and lasting longer, but they still need care. As an automatic transmission owner, you could be on cruise control and forget about transmission preventative maintenance. Transmission care, though, should be a part of your regular car service.
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