How Transmission Fluid Signals The Need For Car Repairs


The fluid in your car's transmission is a good indicator of transmission trouble. By checking the level, color, and odor of the fluid on a regular basis, you can gauge whether your car needs to be seen by a mechanic. Here are a few things to know.

Checking The Fluid

Different types of cars use different types of fluid or oil in their transmissions. So if you check your fluid and find it low, be sure to buy the type needed for your car. You can find that information in your owner's manual or you can ask a mechanic at an auto parts store. If you have an automatic transmission, you can check the fluid with a dipstick in the same way you check your oil. Some cars, especially those with manual transmissions, are easier to check when the car is on a lift. If that's the case, or if you don't want to check the levels yourself, have a mechanic check your transmission fluid any time your car is in for other service visits.

Low Fluid Level

Your car shouldn't lose much transmission fluid normally because it doesn't get used up like motor oil. It is in a closed system that recirculates. If your fluid levels are low, there is a very good chance you have a leak in your system. It's better to have a mechanic check your car than it is to keep topping off your fluid levels. The problem should be diagnosed and fixed. Your car may give indications of low transmission fluid, such as gear slipping when fluid shifts as you drive up a hill or turn a sharp corner. Another sign of leaking transmission fluid is when you actually see a puddle of fluid or oil underneath your car when it has been parked in your driveway overnight.

Fluid Color And Odor

Normal transmission fluid is usually a rusty pink color and odorless. It should be clear and free from particles suspended in it. When something is wrong with your transmission, the color and odor of the fluid will change. If your fluid is dark and smells burnt, it's a sign that the oil has been overheated, which can happen if your transmission is slipping. If the fluid has a varnished appearance, that means the fluid is chronically overheated, and for some reason it is not cooling down properly.

The fluid should normally cool down when it flows near the radiator. However, if there is a crack that allows antifreeze and transmission fluid to mix, the transmission fluid takes on a pinker color. If the fluid has specks floating in it, they could be tiny bits of metal from deterioration of the moving parts in the transmission. When that happens, the fluid needs to be changed to keep from circulating the metal bits throughout the system.

Flush Or Refill

When the transmission fluid signals trouble, a mechanic needs to figure out what is wrong and fix the underlying problem first. Simply changing the fluid won't necessarily fix the problem. If your dash warning light is on, the mechanic can use a diagnostic tool reader to interpret the codes from your car's computer. These help the mechanic determine the types of repairs needed. Once those are done, you'll need to have your transmission fluid replaced. There are two options for this.

If the fluid contains metal shavings, your mechanic may recommend flushing out the system. This involves draining the fluid and flushing out your transmission before putting in new fluid. The other option is to let your old transmission fluid drain out naturally and then refill the tank with new fluid. When your transmission is repaired, you'll want new fluid too. That way, you'll be able to watch for future problems by checking the condition of your fluid when you do routine car maintenance.

For more information, contact American Transmission Center or a similar location.


28 August 2015

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