Red Rock Auto and Cycle is proud to introduce our newest team member, a 30 year plus European automotive technician. Mark Fordham. So for you European car drivers like Mercedes, BMW, Volkswagen, Porsche and Audi, stop in or call (928) 282-4988 and get your vehicle serviced soon.
THE BEST WAYS TO DESTROY YOUR TRANSMISSION TRANSMISSION BASICS
Bad habits are hard to break but just being aware of some of the ways you can avoid destroying your transmission can help immensely down the road. The automatic transmission is a very important module of your vehicle. It allows your vehicle to cruise at highway speeds without blowing up the engine. It multiplies the torque of your engine to aid in propelling the weight of your vehicle. It makes driving in traffic less stressful as it eliminates the clutch and shifts itself. While vital to the proper operation of your vehicle, many people take their automatic transmission for granted. Even worse, they contribute to its failure via bad habits. Let's take a look at some of the bad habits that can destroy your transmission.
Overheating your vehicle
Most automatic transmissions are designed to operate at a maximum temperature of 200 degrees. For every 20 degrees you go above this limit, you risk cutting the expected lifespan of the transmission by a factor of two. To put that in a better perspective, by the time your transmission reaches 300 degrees its life span will be reduced to 1/32nd of what is considered normal. You should also note that at temperatures as low as 240 degrees your organic oil based transmission fluid can turn to varnish, leaving it unable to properly lubricate the moving parts inside your transmission.
Maintaining improper fluid levels.
Letting the transmission run out of fluid or operating it with a low fluid level is a guaranteed way to have a transmission breakdown. The fluid keeps the transmission's internal components cool and lubricated. When the fluid level becomes low or runs completely out, the internal parts begin to grind and overheat which leads to failure.
Never changing the fluid.
Another way to kill your transmission is failing to change the fluid according to the schedule in your automobile's owner's manual. Like the oil in your automobile's engine, transmission fluid becomes dirty and eventually needs changing. Failure to change the fluid can lead to the seals and gaskets, as well as internal transmission components, beginning to overheat and break down along with particles from the constantly wearing parts settling in passageways and especially in the torque converter.
Using the incorrect fluid type.
Adding the wrong type of transmission fluid can kill it. Automatic transmissions by different manufacturers use different fluids. These fluids cannot be mixed with other fluids or added on a temporary basis to "just get by."
Drag racing from light to light.
This causes the torque converter to produce a lot of heat. If you don't give the transmission a chance to cool down between jack-rabbit starts, it will overheat quickly. We know what happens to a transmission when it overheats. Unless your vehicle was specifically designed for this purpose, it cannot sustain that form of abuse. You run the risk of damaging all driveline components.
Like fast starts, sudden stops can damage drivetrain components like engine and transmission mounts. These can lead to transmission damage. After any sudden emergency stop, it would be wise to have your mounts checked.
Leaving the shift lever in park without the parking brake on.
If another vehicle were to even tap yours at the front or back while you're parked, it could cause the parking pawl to break leaving your vehicle to roll down the street unattended. parking on an incline or a hill without the parking brake puts major pressure on the parking pawl. The parking pawl is about the size of your finger. Imagine trying to hold your car on a hill with just your finger.
Downshifting to "brake" at traffic lights.
A forced downshift at high engine RPM is sure to cause excessive wear on transmission friction components (clutches and bands).
Placing the shift lever in drive or reverse when engine is at "fast idle".
This can cause abrupt transmission engagement leading to early failure of clutches, bands, gear sets, driveline components and engine or transmission mountings.
Using your shift lever instead of your brake.
Before changing direction your car must be at a complete stop. Using the transmission to stop the vehicle will lead to premature transmission failure.
Driving before the engine warms up.
For your transmission to perform properly, the fluid must be at operating temperature. (Give it a few minutes and it will give you better and longer service).
Towing your vehicle with the drive wheels on the ground
Rear wheel drive vehicles must be towed with the rear wheels off the ground. or the drive shaft removed Front wheel drive with the front wheels in the air. All wheel or full time four-wheel drive vehicles should be flat towed (all four wheels off the ground) Not sure? Check your owner's manual. Also, every vehicle comes from the factory with a recommended maximum towing limit. Unfortunately, few owners obey it. The bands and clutches can start slipping. This causes them to wear out very quickly. It also results in the transmission getting pumped full of debris as they start failing. Improper towing can cause serious damage!
Playing transmission "doctor".
Over the counter additives that are supposed to stop leaks or make the transmission shift better many times contain chemicals that may cause worn seals to swell. This can interfere with the function of these operating rubber parts and lead to severe damage.
Abusing the drivetrain.
By being stuck in sand, snow, mud or another substance, rocking will cause excessive heat which can burn out a transmission in a very short period of time. Instead, dig it out or have it towed. Both are less expensive than the damage you may cause by quick shifting between Reverse and Drive over and over again. Driving in stop-and-go traffic for an extended period of time; idling the vehicle too long; driving off-road; or using your automobile as a snowplow will also kill your transmission. The engine and transmission is working, but nothing is happening because the wheels cannot move. This leads to the fluid in the transmission overheating and its internal components failing. Avoiding these bad habits can do wonders for your transmission, not to mention your wallet!