Transmission Repair is Complex
One of the most expensive and complex systems in every vehicle is the transmission. To replace one, it is not uncommon to spend $3000.00.
Did you know that it has well over a 100 moving parts? That some have over 200 moving parts? And did you know that all those moving parts are completely invisible from the oustide? They are hidden in a large HEAVY case that is bolted into your power train.
There only way three ways to check a transmission:
- How does the vehicle shift?
- What is the condition of the fluid?
- What do computer diagnostics say? (on newer vehicles)
If there is something is terribly wrong, there is no choice but to pull the transmission out of the vehicle, a four hour labor intensive job in most cases, take apart the transmission and visually inspect it.
Transmission Fluid Maintenance
So, how do you keep this machine in good working order so you don’t have to worry about this?
The best and easiest way is to change the fluid every 30,000 miles, and change the filter in the transmission pan (if it has one).
There are two ways to change the fluid. One is from the top of car and the other is from the bottom.
Most transmissions hold 16 quarts of either reddish or golden fluid. When the transmission fluid is drained from the bottom, only about 1/3 of the old fluid is recovered because most of it is in the front of the transmission in a large doughnut-shaped part called a torque converter. So, we drain about five to six quarts old fluid, add five or six quarts of new and change the filter. If you’ve faithfully serviced your vehicle’s transmission since it was new and drained your fluid every two years, this probably works. It is also the least expensive of the two methods.
When the fluid is changed from the top of the motor, we call it a flush. So what is actually a flush? It is like hooking your transmission line to a special wet vac. The flush machine sucks out all the dirty fluid and it can recover most of it. Then it runs a cleanser through the system to get rid of residue and contaminants that have probably built up. Then we add 16 qts. of new fluid with special conditioners and preservatives. The products we use, called BG Products, come with a lifetime warranty to your transmission if you flush it before 75,000 miles and every 30,000 miles thereafter.
Conditioners and preservatives make the fluid more slippery and last longer. Remember, what is the job of transmission fluid? Just like oil for your engine, transmission fluid is lubrication for those 100 to 200 moving invisible parts inside your transmission case.
Most vehicle owners need to do transmission flushes because they haven’t serviced the transmission on a regular, faithful basis even though they may be very good about changing the motor oil.
If you have a filter at the bottom of your transmission pan, a flush does not include a filter change, that yet it still needs to be done. You can either have it done at the time of the flush or at another time. For example, one year do the flush and the next year change the filter.
Adolf Hoepfl & Sons Garage can help with maintenance and transmission repair in north Houston.
Now it’s story time. Last week we had a customer at our shop whose vehicle’s transmission fluid was black. She had been in here a year ago, and at that time her fluid was black. She didn’t want to change it then, and she didn’t want to change it now. Now it was really black and thick. Why wouldn’t she change it?
Well, because her friend told her that if she flushed the transmission, it would stir up all these contaminants resting in the bottom of her transmission pan and wreak damage on the 100 to 200 invisible moving parts. Is this true?
Well, let me start out by saying that black and burnt fluid lubricates like water, not like oil. So, is it doing its job of lubricating the transmission? Hmmm….
What happens when you leave thick, black fluid inside the transmission? Well, in addition to all those moving parts not being lubricated properly, imagine clutches and seals. The clutches are flat paper cork rings that transmit the power that make the car go. The seals are mostly rubber. What do you think happens when black fluid that’s not slippery circulates? It corrodes the clutches and seals. As the clutches become friable, little pieces break off and get into the fluid. The seals get hard. Over time, there will be a lot less clutch material between the metal parts and once metal starts touching metal, all hell breaks loose with the transmission.
So, is there any truth to the concern of her friend? The answer is that if the transmission is damaged, it’s damaged. A flush will not cause any damage that has already been done. So, the only question remains: Are you taking care of your vehicle’s transmission?