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By Universal Motor Cars Las Vegas NV - Auto Repairing Services
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AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSIONS GUIDE TO CAR OWNERS

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Not everyone gets along well with standard transmissions, and fewer and fewer cars are being built with them.  The clutch, gas, and shifter pattern is something a lot of drivers don’t even learn anymore (and we won’t even talk about driving in Britain, with the shifter in your left hand).  No, most newer cars and trucks are being made with automatics now.

The automatic transmission is a fiendishly complicated machine and can sometimes cause even an experienced auto mechanic headaches.  Many of the functions of an automatic are now controlled with electronics and sensors that give feedback from other systems in the engine and drivetrain.  As a result, something as simple as an improperly-installed car stereo can be enough to cause transmission problems.  In the 80s and 90s, many American cars had transmissions that would be in need of an overhaul at 100k miles (a very expensive overhaul that would often outweigh the value of the car).  Newer transmissions are more reliable and efficient, but there are still some do’s and don’ts when it comes to transmissions:

  • Never shift into gear when the engine RPMs are higher than idle speed
  • Never shift into Reverse, Drive or Park unless the vehicle is at a dead stop.  Even if you’re in a hurry.  It puts a terrible strain on not only the transmission but the U-joints and the entire drivetrain.
  • Check your parking space or garage floor for leaks.  Transmission fluid is always dyed red, to make it easy to differentiate from motor oil or antifreeze.
  • From time to time, check your transmission fluid level.  Some vehicles will specify that the motor should be running, or that the transmission should be in neutral or park.  Various makes will have various requirements for checking fluid; check your owner’s manual.
  • Never, ever overfill the transmission!  Add a half-quart at a time and check the dipstick for the correct level.  Remember that the dipstick will read differently for warm or cold fluid (again, check the owner’s manual or the dipstick itself).
  • Be mindful of the type of transmission fluid specified for the vehicle.  There are multiple varieties on the market now, and many vehicles (Chryslers in particular) can develop serious problems if the wrong kind of fluid is used.
  • If you tow heavy loads, consider having a transmission cooler installed.  It’s definitely worth it for a vehicle that’s subjected to that kind of stress.

Have the fluid flushed and refilled (and the filter changed) at 35k mile intervals, by a reputable auto repair shop?  Or check the color of the fluid on the dipstick; old transmission fluid will be brownish and have a slightly burnt smell to it.  Worn fluid will turn into “varnish” that can clog or stick internal valves and other parts of the transmission.  Regular transmission service is probably the most important factor in keeping your vehicle’s transmission healthy.



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