The transmission has an important role to play in your car: allowing you to safely and efficiently change gears. In fulfilling this purpose, transmissions generate large amounts of heat. Under normal conditions, this heat should safely displace through moving transmission fluid. In other cases, however, problems may cause your transmission to overheat.
Unfortunately, if overheating becomes chronic or goes undiagnosed for too long, serious damage may ensue. For that reason, responsible car owners should make an effort to learn how to detect overheating. This article takes a closer look at three of the most common causes of a transmission whose temperature has grown too hot.
1. Hot Weather
All automatic transmissions have a clearly defined maximum temperature for safe operation. For most cars, this temperature falls somewhere around 200 degrees Fahrenheit. As transmission temperatures move beyond this threshold, the dangers of overheating grow more pronounced. Even a well-maintained transmission may exceed its temperature limit during periods of especially hot weather.
While nobody expects you to stop driving your car once summer rolls around, those who want to avoid transmission overheating should consider altering their driving behavior in small ways. Avoid driving during the hottest times of afternoon. If that is not possible, do your best to travel at low speeds, as periods of rapid acceleration can greatly increase the strain on your transmission.
2. Low Quality Transmission Fluid
A transmission utilizes the power of hydraulics to change gears. In a hydraulic system, fluid conveys pressure from one point to another. Transmissions use transmission fluid - a type of oil - to perform this function. In addition, transmission fluid lubricates the system, ideally keeping friction and wear to a bare minimum.
As with all oils, transmission fluids vary greatly in terms of quality. Low-quality fluids demonstrate much poorer abilities to lubricate your transmission. Furthermore, low quality fluids also tend to be much more susceptible to oxidation. Oxidation causes the fluid to break down over time, often leading to transmission overheating as friction levels increase.
For optimal protection against overheating, consider stocking your transmission with synthetic fluid. Synthetic transmission fluids have been engineered to provide optimal levels of lubrication, thus minimizing temperature gains friction causes. Synthetic fluids also show much stronger resistance to both oxidizing forces and degradation that high temperatures cause.
Before switching to a synthetic fluid, be sure to consult your owner's manual. Certain manufacturers may recommend that you only supply your transmission with petroleum-based fluids. Adding synthetic fluid to such a system may create more problems than it solves.
3. Faulty Solenoid
The solenoid regulates the flow of transmission fluid through your system to ensure the smoothest possible shifting. Unfortunately, however, if a solenoid ceases to work properly, your transmission will no longer function properly.
Solenoids may experience either electrical or mechanical malfunctions. Such malfunctions may lead to either too much or too little fluid pressure. Excessive pressure levels often manifest as a rough, jerky feeling when shifting from gear to gear. Insufficient pressure, on the other hand, will make your transmission less responsive, leading to noticeable delays when shifting.
Insufficient fluid pressure may also lead to overheating, since this means that your transmission contains less fluid than it should. Without adequate lubrication, temperatures naturally rise. To make matters worse, insufficient fluid levels make regulating the transmission's temperature harder, since a key secondary role of transmission fluid involves dispersing unwanted heat.
Overheating lies at the heart of the vast majority of transmission problems. If you suspect that your transmission may overheat, please contact the collision and repair pros at Frankie & Dylan's Complete Collision & Custom Repair. We're happy to answer any question you have.