There are lots of moving parts under the hood of a car, and wear and tear is inevitable. The health of these components is maintained using various types of oil, but the effectiveness of such fluid only lasts so long. Replacements are important in preventing much larger problems, and the transmission is no exception.
The gears are under constant strain during acceleration and deceleration, but transmission fluid makes sure it can do the job for many thousands of kilometres. Fluid replacement is a relatively quick job which prevents the potential for much bigger problems, so let’s take a closer look at what auto mechanics check for:
Colour Is a Good Indicator of Transmission Fluid Health
Transmission fluid is usually red when new, and it acts as a lubricant for the complex gear system. The fluid collects debris over time, and eventually becomes darker and sometimes develops a burned odour. A smell when pressing down on the gas pedal is one of the signs of a transmission fluid problem. The transmission may also become louder, and a grinding noise when changing gears could also occur in a manual vehicle.
Professionals who’ve graduated from mechanic schools are able to spot a buzz or whine on an automatic vehicle, which is a common symptom of transmission problems. A red coloured stain may also appear under the bottom of the engine, meaning there’s a leak in the system which needs to be fully analyzed.
How to Replace Transmission Fluid After You Become a Mechanic
The level of transmission fluid in a vehicle can be checked by finding the dipstick. This is often more difficult to find than the engine oil equivalent, but has a green or red colour to help it stand out. Even if the levels are good, you may spot that the fluid is dark and in need of replacement.
Auto mechanics jack up the vehicle, and find the transmission fluid pan underneath. If you’re lucky, it’ll have a drain plug which allows the fluid to drain straight out into the container. This isn’t always available, however, and the entire pan will have to be unbolted as a result. Once the pan is removed, the fluid will immediately drain out, so beware that this can be a messy job.
Metal shavings in the fluid are normal, but the discovery of larger metal chunks is a sign that the transmission may need more extensive repairs. The pan is then re-secured and fresh transmission fluid is added through the opening which holds the dipstick.
Regular Maintenance Prevents the Need for More Expensive Repairs
If the transmission heats up and the fluid isn’t effective, then gear problems will occur. The worst case scenario is a full transmission failure, which requires a complete replacement and is very expensive for the customer. Being proactive is therefore important when you become a mechanic, because it prevents the need for much more complex repairs.
Drivers should have the transmission fluid changed every 50,000-100,000 kilometers in a manual vehicle. Automatic transmission fluid should be replaced every 30,000-50,000 kilometers because it’s asked to carry out more work. The most suitable fluid for both transmission types will differ, so check out what’s best for each vehicle.
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