Automatic Transmission Servicing
Keeping your automatic transmission shifting smoothly
The automatic transmission is one of the hardest working and most sophisticated parts of your car. The engine works most efficiently at a relatively narrow range of engine RPM, and only uses energy effectively at the middle of that range.
The transmission has to convert the engine output to speeds and torque so it becomes practical for driving. In the case of an auto trans, it has to make the adjustments automatically, using a complex system of mechanics and hydraulics.
Doing this places tremendous stresses on the auto transmission – force, pressure, heat and friction. This can cause tiny metal particles to come off the gears and other components, contaminating the transmission fluid. The more of these abrasive bits there are, the worse the fluid performs, causing greater wear.
It’s a vicious cycle you should break regularly to preserve your automatic transmission and its performance… or be prepared for major costs.
That’s why you need to service your auto transmission regularly – at least every 15 months or 25,000km and more frequently if you use your vehicle for towing or in environments that cause a lot of stopping and starting. Some models may also require more regular transmission servicing. Your transmission specialist can advise you on this.
What the Transmission service includes:
- Drain transmission fluid
- Remove and clean the oil pan
- Inspect the fluid condition, evidence of metal or clutch lining material in pan and any evidence of sludge
- Full transmission flush if needed*
- Remove, clean and replace the filter
- Check and adjust the bands and controls
- Refit the pan, using a new gasket
- Fill the transmission to the recommended level with new transmission fluid of the correct type
- Check for leaks and wear on seals and hoses
- Test to check working of serviced auto trans.
* A transmission flush is usually performed when there are signs of high wear or badly contaminated transmission fluid. Just draining the fluid does not remove all the old fluid from tight spaces and the residue will make any new fluid dirty almost immediately. To remove all remains of the old fluid, the cooling pipe between the transmission and the radiator is usually uncoupled and the transmission filled while the engine is running. This forces the fluid through the transmission, flushing out the dirty remains.
The best way to make sure your automatic transmission service is done properly is to entrust it to experts with the necessary skills and equipment.
Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)
CVT is a special transmission type that features gradual changes in gear ratios, rather than specific steps like ordinary gearboxes. An increasing number of modern cars use gearboxes of this type. They require specialist knowledge, so well advised to make sure you take your vehicle to transmission experts if you know or suspect your vehicle may have CVT or a similar system.