Tips on caring for your automatic transmission
Five Ways to Extend Automatic Transmission Life:
- Check the fluid level
The most important step in keeping your transmission in good working order is to check the fluid level regularly. There many different procedures for checking the fluid based on the manufacturer's recommendations- if you are unsure, check the owner's manual or stop in- we'll be happy to check it for you.
- Have transmission problems checked promptly
Most major problems can be avoided by simply taking care of the minor ones early on.
Whether it's a hesitation, slipping, a light on the dash, a few drops of oil in the driveway, or a feeling that something "just isn't right"- stop in- we'll be happy to perform our free diagnostic check-up for you.
- Change your transmission fluid regularly.
Transmission fluid- like motor oil, breaks down over time and can ultimately cause transmission failure.
Changing the fluid annually can add years to the life of your transmission and can save you money in the long run.
- Add an external transmission cooler.
The number one cause of transmission failure is heat- a 20 degree reduction in operating temperature can double the life of your transmission.
To eliminate excess heat from the transmission, have an external cooler installed. This is an especially important consideration in vehicles that are subject to hard use- towing, heavy loads, stop and go driving and mountainous terrain use.
- Tune the engine.
Engines and transmissions in todayís vehicles are closely linked.
An engine performance problem can put undue stress on the transmission- thatís yet another reason to keep your engine in good running order.
Glossary of Transmission Terminology and Transmission Problems
Aftermarket: Parts and equipment sold after the vehicle has been manufactured.
All Wheel Drive (AWD): All-Wheel drive is a full-time four-wheel drive system.
Automatic transmission: A transmission that shifts automatically.
Automatic transmission fluid (ATF): A petroleum-based hydraulic fluid used in automatic transmissions.
Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association (ATRA): An associaciation transmission repair shops.
Axle: A component that rotates a gear or wheel
Band: A component in many automatic transmissions whose function is to wrap around another component to stop its rotation.
Bearing: An anti-friction assembly used to support another rotating component.
Bushing: A bronze sleeve that serves as a bearing surface.
Carrier Bearing: A bearing that supports the carrier in a differential.
Check Engine Light (CEL): A light which comes on to inform the driver of a problem detected by the vehicle's computer.
Clutch: A device for coupling and decoupling the power flow between an engine and transmission.
Clutch Drum: An automatic transmission part where clutch pack assemblies are housed.
Clutch-release Bearing: Also known as a throw out bearing, a clutch release bearing is a bearing which is used to help disengage the clutch when the clutch pedal is depressed.
Clutch plate: A lined disk found in an automatic transmission clutch pack.
Chatter: A shuddering action in a clutch or clutch pack caused by a rapid grab and release cycle.
Cooler flush: 1) The flushing of a transmission oil cooler after a rebuild to remove contaminants the resulter from the original failure.
Differential: The portion of an axle assembly that permits the wheels to rotate at different speeds when going around turns.
Engagement: The application of a clutch.
Electronically controlled transmission (ECT): A transmission that is controlled by a computer.
Final drive: See "differential"
Flywheel: An assembly that is bolted to the engine crankshaft with a surface for a clutch to contact. A flywheel often needs to be resurfaced or replaced when clutch work is performed.
Four-wheel drive: A vehicle in which all four wheels can be driven.
Friction-modified fluid: Specially formulated automatic transmission fluid that is used by certain manufacturers to provide smoother shifts.
Front wheel drive: A vehicle in which the front wheels are the wheels driven by the engine.
Flexplate: A plate attached to the engine crankshaft which transfers power to the torque converter.
Gears: Components having teeth that mesh and transfer power each other.
Harsh engagement: An rough shift into drive or reverse.
Hard parts: Automatic transmission components that are not contained in a rebuild kit and are not normally replaced during a transmission rebuild unless they are worn or damaged.
Input shaft: The transmission shaft that receives power from the engine. Input shafts are splined into the clutch disk on manual transmissions and into the torque converter's turbine on automatic transmissions.
Kickdown: A full throttle downshift to a lower gear- passing gear.
Limited-slip differential A differential that tends to keepboth axle shafts rotating at the same speed, regardless of traction conditions.
Line pressure: The main operating pressure in an automatic transmission- pump pressure that has been modified.
Lock-up torque converter: A hydraulic torque converter in an automatic transmission having a mechanical clutch that effectively locks the engine to the transmission input shaft at cruising speeds. Lock-up torque converters provide more efficient operation and better fuel economy by eliminating slippage between the engine and transmission at highway speeds.
Malfunction indicator light (MIL): See "check engine light".
Manifold absolute pressure sensor (MAP) sensor: A sensor used to measure manifold pressure.
Mass airflow sensor (MAS): A sensor that measures amount of air flowing through an engine
Motor mounts: Mounts made of rubber to secure the engine to the vehicle's frame.
Needle bearing: A bearing that contains needle-like rollers.
Neutral: The position of a transmission when the engine is disengaged from the drive train.
Neutral safety switch: An electrical switch which inhibits starter operation when a vehicle is in gear.
OEM: Original equipment manufacturer.
Output shaft: The driven shaft in a transmission.
Overdrive: A transmission having a ratio of less than 1:1 where the output shaft turns at a greater rpm than does the input shaft.
Pilot bearing: A bearing that supports the transmission input shaft in the crankshaft.
Pressure Control Solenoid: A solenoid whose function is to vary transmission line pressure in proportion to load and/or throttle opening
Pressure regulator valve: The valve that is responsible for determining line pressure. See "line pressure"
Pump: A component located in the the transmission used to provide fluid pressure to operate the transmission.
Planetary gear set: A set of gears found in most automatic transmissions.
PWM: Pulse with modulated. See "duty cycle"
Rebuild kit: A kit containing some of the parts to rebuild a transmission.
Remanufacture: Similar to rebuilding but usually referring to work performed on an assembly line by several different individuals.
Rear-wheel drive: A vehicle that powers to the rear wheels only.
Remove and replace (R&R): To remove and replace a part.
Reverse: The transmission position enabling the vehicle to move backward.
Roller clutch: A one-way clutch containing a number of rollers that operates by wedging on a ramp between an inner and outer race to lock up when the outer race is turned in one direction, and to freewheel when it is turned in the opposite direction. Similar to but often incorrectly referred to as a 'sprag'.
Self-adjusting clutch: A adjuster that takes up the play between the pressure plate and clutch automatically.
Slippage: Incomplete transfer of engine power through a clutch, clutch pack or torque converter to the transmission output shaft.
Solenoid: An electronically activated valve to either block or allow fluid flow.
Speed sensor: An electrical device that can sense the rotational speed of a component.
SpragA one-way clutch used in an automatic transmission.
Synchronizer: A manual transmission component used to slow down or speed up a gear to the speed of the main shaft.
Synthetic oil: Any man made lubricant consisting of highly polymerized chemicals.
Shift kit: A kit containing parts to modify a valve body for higher performance operation.
Soft part: Any normal wear transmission part that is contained in a rebuild kit.
Throttle position sensor (TPS): An electrical device that measures throttle opening.
Torque converter: A component that transfers power from the engine to the transmission input shaft in an automatic transmission.
Transfer case: A gearbox that is used on four-wheel-drive vehicles to transfer torque to the front and/or rear axles.
Transmission: A gearbox with two or more different speeds used to match the engine to different road speeds.
Transmission cooler: A device which automatic transmission fluid circulates through to be cooled by surrounding air or engine coolant.
Trouble code: A numeric indicator generated by a computer to indicate a failure in a sensor, circuit, or the computer itself.
Universal joint (u-joint): A connection in a driveshaft.
Valve body: A component that is comprised of valves and passages whose function is to act as the "brain" of the automatic transmission.
Vehicle speed sensor (VSS): Asensor that provides a road speed signal to the vehicle's computer and/or instrument cluster.