Your car’s transmission is responsible for shifting gears and transferring power from the engine to the wheels.
Regular transmission maintenance, including checking the fluid level along with essential components, is necessary to ensure that it continues to function correctly.
How Does Transmission Fluid Work and Why is it Important?
The transmission fluid is responsible for lubricating the moving parts of the transmission system. This process primarily includes the operation of gears, bearings, and shafts.
As a liquid, it also serves as a coolant, a process that prevents the overall transmission system (both manual and automatic transmissions) from overheating despite being in close proximity to the engine.
One way to distinguish the transmission fluid from other lubricants is through its distinctive color and smell.
Transmission fluids are typically light red in color and have a very sweet smell (make sure that you keep it away from the reach of pets and small children as they might drink it).
It’s also important to maintain the proper fluid level in your car’s transmission system because low fluid levels can cause several problems, including transmission slipping, rough shifting, and strange noises.
Furthermore, driving with low fluid levels can also cause your vehicle and engine to overheat, resulting in costly repairs.
Regularly checking the fluid level and having it changed according to your car manufacturer’s recommendations can help prevent these issues and prolong the life of your car’s transmission system.
Symptoms of Low Transmission Fluid
Apart from checking the reservoir, there are many ways to tell that your car is running low on transmission fuel.
Some symptoms can be apparent without any automobile knowledge, just look at the check engine light, while some indicators may need you to know your way around an engine.
Here are some of the most common symptoms of low transmission fluids:
1. Transmission Slipping
One of the most common symptoms of low transmission fluid is transmission slipping.
When your car is low on transmission fluid, you may notice that the gears are not shifting smoothly, causing the transmission to slip or hesitate when you accelerate or shift gears. This can lead to increased RPMs but reduced acceleration.
2. Difficulties in Shifting Gears
Rough shifting is another sign that your car needs transmission fluid. When the fluid level is low, the gears may not shift smoothly, resulting in rough or delayed shifting when you try to change gears.
This can cause your car to jerk or vibrate while driving, which can be a safety hazard.
3. Abnormal Engine Noise
If your car is making strange noises when shifting gears, it could be a sign of low transmission fluid.
Whining, grinding, or clunking sounds when you shift gears can indicate that the gears are not properly lubricated, causing them to grind against each other or break down.
4. Fluid Leaks
Fluid leaks can also be a sign that your car is low on transmission fluid. If you notice red fluid under your car, it could be a sign that your transmission fluid is leaking.
This leakage can cause low fluid levels and lead to the symptoms discussed above.
5. Overheating Engine
A low level of transmission fluid can also cause your engine to overheat. This happens because the transmission is not getting enough fluid to lubricate its moving parts.
Overheating can cause severe damage to your car’s engine, resulting in costly repairs.
How Long Should the Transmission Fluid Last?
There is no fixed timeframe for replacement, as the average lifespan of transmission fluid depends on several factors, including the type of fluid, the make and model of your car, and your driving habits.
Some car manufacturers recommend changing the transmission fluid every 30,000 to 60,000 miles, while others suggest changing it every 100,000 miles or more.
In the end, it all depends on your car and the driving conditions.
It’s important to follow your car manufacturer’s recommendations for changing the transmission fluid.
Neglecting to change the fluid at the recommended service interval can lead to increased wear and tear on the vehicle and transmission system, which can be costly in the long run.
In addition to following your car manufacturer’s recommendations, you should also consider other factors that can affect the lifespan and performance of your transmission fluid.
For example, slow traffic with a lot of acceleration and deceleration can burn your transmission fluid away or cause it to disintegrate.
Similarly, increasing the overall load by towing heavy loads or loading up a lot of luggage in the car can have the same effect on your transmission fluid.
It’s always a good idea to periodically check your transmission fluid for any signs of wear or damage.
If it appears dirty or has a distinctive burnt smell, it’s an indication that you need to change your fluid.
What Happens After Low Transmission Fluid?
Low transmission fluid can cause several problems in your car’s automatic transmission and other integral systems.
You are well on your way to engine failure if you decide to continue driving even after low levels of automatic transmission fuel.
Apart from facilitating gear mechanisms, the transmission fluid is also responsible for lubricating and cooling out the moving parts in your car.
Without the right fluid levels, these parts can overheat and cause significant damage to both the transmission system and the engine of your car.
Ways to Prevent Transmission Issues
One of the best ways to ensure the longevity of your transmission systems is preventive maintenance.
Doing so can save you from expensive repairs down the line and keep your car running properly. Here are some tips to help you prevent transmission issues.
Regular Maintenance: Regularly check the fluid and oil levels and condition of components to ensure that everything is according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
Gentle Driving: Gentle driving habits can help prevent transmission issues. Avoid sudden stops and starts, and do not accelerate too quickly. Be gentle when shifting gears and avoid revving the engine excessively.
Avoid Overheating: Overheating is a common cause of transmission issues. To prevent overheating, ensure that your car’s cooling system is in a good condition and working order, and avoid driving in extreme heat conditions whenever possible.
Use the Correct Fluid: Using the correct type of transmission fluid is essential to prevent transmission issues. Check your car owner’s manual to find out the recommended type of transmission fluid for your car and use it correctly.
Avoid Overloading: Overloading your car can cause unnecessary stress on your transmission system. Avoid carrying excess weight in your car, especially regularly.
Similarly, towing a heavy load can put extra stress on your transmission system.
If you must tow, ensure that your car is equipped for it and that you are using the correct hitch and weight distribution system.
In conclusion, low transmission fluid can cause significant problems for your car, including transmission slipping, rough shifting, strange noises, fluid leaks, and engine overheating.
If you notice any of these symptoms, have your car checked by a mechanic as soon as possible to avoid further damage.
Remember to regularly check and maintain the proper fluid level to prevent transmission problems and prolong the life of your car