6 Myths About Your Vehicle’s Transmission: Busted

6 Myths About Your Vehicle’s Transmission: Busted

| By: Christian Brothers Automotive

Your transmission is more than just a car part—it's the heart of your mobility, the unsung hero that keeps you moving day in, day out. Yet, despite its importance, many of us know very little about it, falling for misconceptions and often fearing the worst!


Let's switch gears and rethink what we know. With help from Christian Brothers Automotive, you can discover the truth behind six common transmission myths. Understanding them will help you maintain your vehicle better and ensure a smoother ride for years to come!


Alright, let’s bust myth #1…

Myth 1: Transmission Fluid Doesn’t Need to Be Changed

This myth likely comes from a misunderstanding of manufacturer recommendations. While some suggest their transmission fluid is "lifetime" or can last up to 100,000 miles, it often applies to ideal driving conditions. Even “filled for life” transmissions should have the fluid changed, especially if you are towing heavy cargo. All vehicles benefit from transmission fluid changes.


As for a schedule for your ride, it's a good practice to change your vehicle's transmission fluid every 50,000 to 100,000 miles. However, because every car is different, always refer to your specific vehicle owner's manual for the most accurate information.


If you don’t change your transmission fluid, you run the risk of:

  • Unwanted friction and heat buildup – Without regular fluid changes, your transmission can get too hot, leading to premature wear and tear and eventual breakdown.

  • Compromised vehicle performance – Dirty or low fluid can lead to erratic shifting, slippage, surging, or even complete vehicle failure.

  • Increased repair costs – Ignoring fluid changes means your transmission has to work harder, which can lead to premature failure and expensive repairs or replacements.

  • Lower fuel efficiency – Old, contaminated transmission fluid can cause your engine to work harder, reducing your car's fuel efficiency.


Regularly changing your transmission fluid is essential to extend the life of your transmission, enhance vehicle performance, and improve fuel efficiency. It's a small investment that can save you from costly repairs in the future!


Myth 2: Manual Transmissions Always Get Better Fuel Economy

Although it's commonly believed that manual transmission vehicles are more fuel-efficient than automatic ones, this isn't always true. Advances in automotive technology have narrowed the fuel economy gap between manual and automatic transmissions.


Modern automatic transmissions have more gears and sophisticated software that optimize gear shifting, working to surpass even the most manual-experienced drivers. Additionally, continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) adjust to driving conditions for optimal fuel efficiency, offering better performance than a manual transmission in most situations.


The bottom line? The type of transmission you choose won't always determine your vehicle's fuel economy.

Myth 3: You Can’t Damage Your Transmission by Shifting from Reverse to Drive While Moving

Shifting from reverse to drive while your vehicle is still moving is a common practice for many drivers, and it's often thought to be harmless. However, it can harm your transmission, and, honestly, it probably will.


The sudden shift causes significant strain on the transmission's components, and even if it doesn't cause immediate damage, it can lead to costly repairs over time. It's like tugging your vehicle in two different directions simultaneously. This absolutely puts strain on the shift gears and driveline components, including the driveshaft and more.


While it's tempting to save yourself a few seconds and quickly shift your car from reverse to drive, resist the urge! Take a second to let your vehicle come to a complete stop before you switch gears for a smoother ride and better transmission health. Do the same when shifting to Drive from Reverse while moving. Let go of the 2 seconds of time you would gain and make your transmission’s “future me” happy!

Myth 4: It’s Better to Shift to Neutral at Red Light

There is a belief among some drivers that putting the car in neutral at a red light can reduce wear and tear on the transmission or even save fuel. This myth has been passed down through generations of drivers, but it’s not entirely accurate.


Switching to neutral at a stop light doesn’t save significant amounts of fuel, nor does it reduce wear on your transmission. With modern automatic transmissions, the difference in wear between idling in drive during a red light and shifting to neutral is negligible.


Plus, frequent shifting between neutral and drive can actually put more strain on your transmission components over time.


As for fuel savings, most modern vehicles are designed with fuel efficiency in mind. When your vehicle is stopped with the transmission in drive, the engine idles at a very low RPM, which doesn't use much fuel. If your vehicle’s RPMs are high while idling in Drive, it’s time for service! If you’re looking to improve efficiency, check out these other fuel-saving tips.


Myth 5: All Transmission Fluids Are the Same

No, not all transmission fluids are created equally. Each fluid is specifically designed for a particular type of vehicle, and its properties may vary significantly from one model to the next.


It's important to use the exact type of fluid that your vehicle manufacturer recommends, as some modern transmissions require specialized fluids.


Using the wrong fluid can damage your transmission, resulting in costly repairs or a need for a full transmission replacement. Learn more about the different types of transmission fluids, and always check your vehicle owner's manual to ensure you're selecting the right type for your vehicle.

Myth 6: A Transmission Fluid Leak Always Means a Major Repair

While a transmission fluid leak can cause panic, it's important to know it doesn't necessarily mean the end for your vehicle. Many drivers worry about repair costs and being without their cars. However, not all leaks signal doom for your transmission.


Minor issues like a loose pan bolt or faulty gasket can often be the source of a leak, and they're relatively simple and inexpensive to fix. Even more serious leaks, such as those from a damaged seal or crack in the transmission housing, are still repairable, albeit more expensive. For those who truly love their ride…even if you have to replace your transmission entirely, the experts at Christian Brothers Automotive have replaced thousands of them successfully. You can trust us to baby your baby!

Remember, identifying and addressing a transmission fluid leak early reduces the likelihood of severe damage. Regular vehicle inspections and maintenance can help catch leaks early, minimizing potential damage and costly repairs.

Learn the Facts & Master Your Vehicle's Transmission with Local Service

To summarize, here are a few key points to remember when it comes to vehicle transmission:

  • Transmission fluid should be changed around every 50,000-100,000 miles.

  • Modern automatic transmissions are just as fuel efficient as manual ones.

  • Shifting from reverse to drive (and from drive to reverse) while the car is still in motion can damage your transmission…and probably will.

  • Each type of transmission requires its own specialized fluid.

  • A leak doesn't always mean a major repair is needed.

Maintaining your vehicle's transmission is essential to keeping it running smoothly and efficiently for years to come. For expert advice, professional service, and quality repairs, trust the experienced technicians at Christian Brothers Automotive for local transmission services. We'll help you understand your car and maintain it with professional service.

Ready to get your transmission in check? Drive safely and confidently with Christian Brothers Automotive. Use our online locator to find your closest shop. You’re driving cars, we’re Driving Joy!
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