The Proper Care and Maintenance of Your
Automatic Transmissions are perhaps the most complicated
components in today’s automobile, not to mention also being one of the most expensive as well. The modern automatic
transmission contains hydraulic, mechanical, electrical, and computer
control systems, all working together in harmony under normal conditions. Like any complex machine, proper care and maintenance of your transmission is critical to its
long service life. Proper care and maintenance is also critical to your safety, as some types of transmission
problems could cause the vehicle to stall, roll while in Park, or jump gears
unexpectedly. The best source of information about your particular
vehicle is the Owner’s Manual provided by the manufacturer. In it, you will find out how to operate the
transmission, how to check its fluid level, what type of fluid to use, and recommended service
intervals. Here are some general tips in taking care of your
1. Periodically check the transmission fluid
level (every 6,000 miles/6 months if not otherwise specified in the Owner’s Manual, more often under extreme
usage). Most automatic transmissions have a dipstick that is marked with the proper fluid level. If the fluid
level is low, check underneath for leaks, locate the source of the leakage and make
repairs.Fluid levels should be checked while the vehicle is on a level
surface and after the engine has been running for at least 15 minutes.
2. Change the fluid and filter as often as
recommended in the owner’s manual, or when the fluid appears dirty (brownish in color). Typical recommended
intervals are every 30,000 to 60,000 miles, even more frequently for heavy duty use. The quickie fluid changes promoted by some of the fast oil change
businesses leaves behind 30-40
percent of the old fluid, as well as any solids collected on the pan.
3. Ensure that the
correct type of transmission fluid as specified in the Owner’s Manual is used. Using an incorrect fluid can quickly
cause major damage. Don’t assume that all Ford vehicles use Type F, check the Owner’s Manual.
4. Never shift to Park or Reverse unless the vehicle
is at a complete stop.
5. Do not drive on hard pavement while in 4
wheel drive (unless a full time 4wd or AWD vehicle).
The vast majority of transmission problems are the the result of overheating. This can occur
as a result of hauling a heavy load, towing a heavy trailer, spinning
tires in the mud or snow, stop and go traffic, etc. As fluid
temperatures increase, the fluid loses its lubricating properties, resulting in mechanical wear and the leaving
of deposits to further cause wear of internal components. Further,
high temperatures affect the sealing abiltiies of rubber seals and gaskets, eventually allowing them to leak
fluid. Transmission coolers can be integral with the
vehicles radiator or may be a separate cooler. In many cases a larger
aftermarket cooler can be installed in regular hauling of heavy loads or trailers is anticipated. As always,
follow the Owner’s Manual recommendations.
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