Why You Need to Look After Your Car's Automatic Transmission Fluid


Most cars today are fitted with an automatic transmission, and this is something that the average motorist takes for granted. In truth, they may not understand how it works because a car definitely a complex mechanism. However, it does require a certain amount of maintenance during the course of its life if you are to get full value for money. You may think that wear and tear are to be expected and that failures are just part of car ownership, but in truth most automatic transmission problems can likely be traced back to issues with the lubricating fluid. Why should you pay even closer attention to this liquid if you're going to save some money at your next service?

Okay in Normal Conditions?

Manufacturers design automatic transmission fluid to work under harsh operating conditions and within a casing that is frequently subject to high temperatures. Consequently, this fluid will thrive under pressure so long as the owner operates the vehicle in normal driving conditions. The problem seems to arise when it comes to defining the word "normal", especially when it comes to prevailing conditions in Australia. After all, a number of different factors can serve to elevate the fluid's temperature and increase the wear rate.

Challenging the Fluid

The challenge may begin in the summer months when ambient temperatures are very high and will be exacerbated if you tend to do a lot of long-distance driving at high speeds. You may tow a car or boat trailer behind your vehicle or may live in a hilly or mountainous area, and all of these situations are considered to be abnormal by the manufacturers. You may even be "pushing it" if you have to drive over muddy tracks or loose surfaces in order to get home.

Cooling Attempts

To try and counter these situations, many cars are fitted with oil coolers and heat exchangers that are linked to the radiator system at the front of the vehicle. The hot automatic transmission fluid is piped through this system before it is returned, but in reality, this will only cause a marginal improvement to the temperature and won't do much for the life of the fluid itself.

Damage Builds

When this liquid starts to break down, it may start to oxidise, and this can cause a film to be deposited within the transmission casing. Further damage may be caused when the rubber seals begin to harden, and this could lead to leakage, depriving the system of essential lubricant. Eventually, the clutch will begin to burn out and the transmission will slip, and this will certainly prompt a lengthy visit to your service bay for repairs.

Normal or Not?

You can identify whether you are a "normal" driver or not in terms of ATF performance and should take extra steps to look after your automatic transmission fluid if you are not. Sometimes, this type of service is not included in an interim tune-up, so you should ask your mechanic to do it in any case, out of caution.


22 October 2018

Essential Auto Services for Long Journeys

Hi, my name is Katy, and I love to go on long road trips. However, I also know how scary it is to be stuck in the middle of nowhere when your car needs a repair. Because of that, I have figured out which repairs are essential before you go on a long journey. If you are planning a long journey, please explore these posts, tips and ideas. I hope they help you hone on which repairs or services your automobile needs before your next journey. In this blog, I cover everything from services to packing lists and more. Enjoy and thanks for reading!