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The Transmission Health Checklist: How to Keep Your Transmission Healthy

Keeping your transmission in a healthy state is not difficult or even challenging—it just takes some time and a few careful steps to ensure that your system is in good condition. Combine that with a good attention to detail, and you should be able to keep your transmission in good shape.

Here are a few tips for maintaining good transmission health:

Check the transmission fluid level regularly.

In addition to the transmission, the transmission fluid is used to operate the clutch system as well as well as provide lubrication and cooling. Consequently, maintaining an optimum amount of transmission fluid is a major contributor to car health.

If there's a problem with the transmission, take care of it immediately.

Mechanics know that most transmission problems start out small but can get much more serious very quickly if they are not addressed. Whether it's a warning light on the dash, a few stray drops of fluid, or an odd sound, make sure to learn what is going on—soon. If you aren't able to determine the problem yourself, take it to a mechanic. Solving an issue before it becomes more serious is easier on the wallet and your mood!

Have your transmission serviced regularly.

Many people don't realize that transmission fluid itself can wear out. The fluid can lose its ability to lubricate and cool, as well as be useful as an active agent in the hydraulics of the transmission system. For this one reason, it's a good idea to have your transmission fluid and filter completely replaced once a year. A regular yearly change can add years of life to your transmission, not to mention that, in the long run, it saves money on repairs.

Use additives to increase performance.

Adding a friction modifier to your transmission fluid can give an added kick to the effectiveness of the normal fluid. It increases the friction coefficient of the fluid it's added to. Friction modifier can help with limited slip differentials, quieting down the clutches if they become noisy.

Add an auxiliary cooler.

Most transmissions fail because of excessive heat. If the transmission does get hot, the temperature can quickly rise above 300 degrees Fahrenheit. The system will begin to break down at this temperature, with seals becoming hard, and the clutch becoming overheated and compromised. To avoid this problem completely, have an auxiliary cooler installed. A cooler like this is almost a necessity for vehicles that haul heavy loads or which travel frequently over challenging terrain.

Use a cooler line filter.

One of the easiest ways to degrade a transmission system is to let loose dirt and other particles do their dirty work on bushing surfaces and let them clog up the flow of the fluid. Adding an in-line filter to the cooler lines of the transmission can get rid of these problems. In-line filters are very inexpensive, so installing one in your cooler lines is a must-do. If you don't have one of these currently in your system, get one.

Make sure your cooling system is in good shape.

The cooling system for the engine also cools the transmission fluid. In fact, the transmission fluid flows through a heat exchanger in the radiator. Consequently, if your cooling system isn't working properly, there's a chance that your transmission fluid may be degraded as well as overheated. Also, transmission damage can happen a long time before an engine overheats. So, to protect both your transmission and your engine, make sure the cooling system is operating at its peak performance.

Keep your engine tuned up.

Problems in the engine can affect the transmission, so it's important to keep your engine in tune. An engine that runs effectively causes less stress on a transmission.

Be conscious of your shifting patterns.

Most of the wear and tear on the transmission takes place during the shifting process. So, to lessen the load on your transmission, be sure to note the speed during a normal shift of the transmission. The next time, ease off the gas just before the optimal shift speed is reached. Letting up on the accelerator forces the shift while lessening the clutch load.

Paying attention to your transmission system with a high degree of caring and consciousness can go a long way toward preserving the health of your transmission. Even if you can't do the maintenance yourself, investing in a visit to a professional mechanic for a yearly maintenance is a smart move for your wallet, your transmission, and your car.

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