Most people understand the importance of vehicle maintenance. They know that to get the maximum mileage out of their vehicle they need to keep up on all of their required maintenance. Maintenance consists of many things like changing their engine oil, tune ups, tires and filters at appropriate times, but very few people take the time to read their vehicle manufacturer’s maintenance schedules and actually perform them. This generally equates to needing a pricy transmission repair that could have been avoided.
Most people will get their engine oil changed, but have no idea that they also need to service their transmissions. This lack of general understanding, as well as misguidance from vehicle manufacturers can lead to clients needing transmission overhauls prematurely, sometimes by as many as 100,000 miles. That’s hard to believe, but we have seen vehicles with 300,000 miles running smoothly on their original transmission, and we have seen vehicles with fried transmissions with as little as 90,000 miles on the odometer. The difference? One client services their transmission correctly and the other does not.
Vehicles need their transmissions serviced every 60,000 to 80,000 miles, regardless of what the manufacturers states. We have seen clients with blown transmissions that have never serviced their vehicles because the manufacturer states that their transmission has life-time oil in it. That advice is generally a ruse, since manufacturers sometimes define lifetime as the milage that their warranty expires. Not under warranty means repairs are not their problem, so why not advertise that their transmissions have life-time oil?
Now that we understand that transmissions always require servicing, lets discuss what an actual service entails. Here is a simple question that will help most consumers understand: Would you change your engine oil without also changing the filter? Most drivers would certainly not. In this scenario the engine oil would be instantly contaminated after the oil change, not to mention that an old filter would not keep the engine oil clean as long as possible. A transmission service should not only entail new fluid, but also a new filter and pan gasket, a transmission pan cleaning and a thorough inspection.
That being said, one of the worst things you can do to your vehicle is get your transmission flushed at a quick lube shop. They will only change the fluid, usually with improper or very low quality fluid. This is simply a waste of time and money, and will not significantly extend the service life of your transmission.
So what happens when you don’t properly service your transmission? The first thing that will happen is that your filter will get clogged up with metal shavings and loose clutch material. Once the filter is clogged, it will cause problems with the circulation of the transmission fluid, possibly damaging the pump and causing low quality shifts. After the filter is clogged there will be nothing to remove debris from the fluid and these particles and shavings will make their way through the moving parts of the transmission causing failure. Heavily contaminated fluid will also not absorb heat from the friction of the moving parts, causing the transmission to overheat and burn up.
The key takeaway from this article is to keep up on your transmission maintenance and ensuring you are getting it properly done for a long transmission life. Who would you rather be, the client with 300,000 miles on their truck buying a transmission service, or the client with 100,000 miles buying a new transmission?