No matter the type of vehicle you have, your transmission is important. Your car’s transmission is what changes the gear of an engine, which transports the engine's power to the wheels to move the vehicle ahead. In short, the transmission makes your car move forward.
When we look at the functions of the transmission system, the transmission fluid is a key component. It can be confusing choosing the right automatic transmission fluid (ATF) with so many different types on the market. They all have different properties and specifications for different vehicles.
While your owner’s manual will have the most accurate details about the type of transmission fluid your car needs, our experts are here to explain the importance of your vehicle’s transmission fluid in detail, and why you should be certain to maintain it.
Editor’s Note:This blog was originally published in 2016 and updated in April of 2021 to reflect technical and industry changes.
What Is the Automatic Transmission Fluid Used For?
ATF does a lot for your transmission. It’s responsible for lubricating mechanical parts, maintaining fluid pressure, cooling, preventing oxidation, conditioning the gasket, and preventing rust. Lubrication, fluid pressure, and cooling are the three main functions of the transmission fluid. As you can tell, our vehicles would fail to run without a quality transmission system with the correct transmission fluid.
Which Transmission Fluid Should You Use?
Similar to engine oil, transmission fluid comes in both regular and synthetic blends. Most new cars today utilize a synthetic fluid for the transmission. It’s important to use the fluid recommended by your vehicle manufacturer to ensure your transmission gets exactly what it needs. Every fluid in your car is meant to provide the best lubrication, cooling, and protection for each specific make and model.
When Should Transmission Fluid Be Changed?
To put it simply, you can refer to your manufacturer’s manual when it comes to determining when you need your vehicle’s transmission fluid replaced. Most manufacturers recommend having your transmission fluid changed every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. If you tow often or continually change gears during the likes of city driving, you may need to replace your fluid more often.
While not exactly a monthly service, it’s important to ensure that you have your transmission fluids checked on a routine basis. This ensures you’re not operating your transmission while your system is low on fluid. Our team at your local Christian Brothers Automotive shop can help you determine the best routine schedule for your vehicle and driving habits.
Why is My Transmission Fluid Low?
Whether you've experienced a problem with your transmission or noticed dropping levels during a routine check, low levels of transmission fluid are usually caused by leaks in the transmission system itself. From the seals to the driveshaft, there are a few places leaks commonly occur.
Some signs you may have a transmission leak include:
Delay in Acceleration – When working properly, the gears shift in your car with extreme ease. You can barely notice it. If you’ve noticed a delay, or slipping, in the acceleration of your car when you press on the gas pedal it’s important to have your transmission system and levels inspected right away.
Extreme Heat in Transmission – Our transmissions do a lot of work. While some heat is normal, extreme heat is the sign you may leak. Without the proper amount of fluid, your system can quickly overheat. Keep your eye on your car’s temperature gauge, as well as the temperature of your car’s floorboard.
Fluid Leaks – As with any leak in your car, a transmission leak should be taken seriously. When your transmission fluid leaks, dark spots will be seen on your driveway where you normally park. If you notice any type of leak, check your fluid levels and give our team a call.
Dipstick Tells All – While not as common on modern cars, if you notice a change in drivability, a quick check of your transmission fluid via your dipstick can give you the peace of mind you may need.
Transmission Fluid Services
At Christian Brothers Automotive, we take transmission maintenance seriously. Since the transmission system is one of the most expensive parts of your vehicle to replace, besides your engine, it’s extremely important to schedule regular transmission fluid and filter changes. If you ignore your transmission fluid changes, transmission system damage often comes next. If you have any questions or would like to schedule your transmission service now,locate your local auto shop by clicking here.
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