Did you know that your vehicle's transmission is one of the most expensive components of your car to repair?
Even the most well-tuned transmission can experience trouble in Southern California—and the last thing you want is to have your transmission fail right before you hit the road!
Preventing Transmission Problems
When you think of transmission problems, you may think of freezing temperatures, salty roads, or the harsh terrain of the north. However, Southern California's unique weather can have a less-than-sunny impact on your transmission over time.
Here are just a few of the ways that Southern California can affect transmissions:
1. Idling On California Highways
California freeways are routinely clogged and congested, creating long periods of stop-and-go traffic. Aside from being irritating, this type of traffic can also affect your transmission’s overall health and lifespan.
Excessive idling can lead to your transmission fluid becoming too hot, which can diminish its quality and prevent it from properly lubricating the many parts that create a smooth and functional transmission.
2. Dirt and Grime In Your Transmission Fluid
California roads are notoriously dusty. If you don't keep your transmission maintained, that dust sooner or later will find its way in. Once inside, dirt and debris grind away at valves and gears like sandpaper.
Even small amounts of particulate matter picked up on your drives can make their way into your car's essential fluids and cause problems down the road, such as a clogged transmission filter.
Make sure to monitor your transmission fluid often to ensure that it is clean and clear of particulate matter.
3. Driving In The Mountains
Driving up the winding roads of nearby mountains can be stressful for your transmission.
To avoid wearing out your transmission on steep inclines, follow these rules of thumb:
- If your car is struggling with an incline, shift into a lower gear (reduce speed in automatic transmission vehicles) to reduce the strain on your transmission.
- Avoid running the A/C on inclines, which can add extra stress to the car's components.
- Stick to lower gears when heading downhill to avoid sudden compression.
4. Driving Into Floodwaters
Flash floods can occur with little notice in California, which can spell disaster if you find yourself in such a situation, so keep an eye on the forecast. Driving into floodwaters can be incredibly dangerous—including for your transmission.
Water and transmission fluid should never mix. Even a tablespoon of water can seriously damage or even ruin your transmission.
The Dos and Don'ts of Maintaining Your Transmission in Southern California
Maintaining your transmission is essential to a safe Southern California highway experience, but it is also necessary to find a skilled transmission professional when the time comes. Bad transmissions can quickly spiral into a complicated and expensive series of repairs.
The good news is that there are a few steps you can take to protect your transmission from damage—and the best part is that they're relatively easy! Here are some "dos and don'ts" for keeping both your car's engine and transmission in tip-top shape:
1. DO Know Your Transmission Type
First, it's best to get to know your transmission. Does your vehicle have an automatic or manual transmission? Knowing this is the first step in effectively maintaining your car.
Automatic Transmissions: Automatic transmissions require specific types of transmission fluid, so it's imperative to check your owner's manual for the manufacturer's recommended type.
If you do not use the correct oil, friction can break down internal parts sooner than expected. Automatic transmissions should be serviced every 30,000 miles or four years—whichever comes first!
Manual Transmissions: Manual transmissions often have a clutch that can wear down over time, especially on stop-and-go traffic. It's essential to check your owner's manual for the proper way to drive a manual transmission, as there are different techniques depending on the type of vehicle you own.
2. DON'T Let Your Vehicle Overheat
Did you know the temperature of your car's transmission is closely tied to its health? If your transmission fluid is faulty or low, you can lose the lubricating effects on your transmission, leading to high friction and damaging heat.
Keeping your fluids updated and filters clean and changed can help reduce the temperatures to ensure your transmission runs optimally.
3. DO Keep Your Transmission Fluid Clean
Transmission fluid is a crucial part of keeping your gears lubricated and smooth, allowing you to drive safely and efficiently for years to come. However, like any fluid in your car, it can become dirty and degrade over time.
Dirty or damaged transmission fluid can lead to an escalating series of transmission and engine problems—from gear friction damage to total failure. That's why it's critical to keep an eye on your fluid levels and quality.
Here are a few signs that your transmission fluid requires some TLC:
- You find your gears are slipping, or it is difficult to shift between gears
- You hear unexpected grinding noises or a burning smell
- When checked by a professional, your transmission fluid appears dirty or clouded
4. DON'T Let Transmission Problems Go Unchecked
If your transmission is not working properly, never ignore it!
Driving with a broken transmission can cause irreversible damage to your gears and other essential parts of the drivetrain.
If you are experiencing issues with your car's gear shifting or notice its RPMs spiking up at specific speeds, be sure to bring it in for a proper diagnosis.
5. DO Bring Your Car In For A Transmission Inspection Routinely
If you believe there is a problem with your transmission—no matter how big or small—the best thing you can do is take it to your local expert for inspection and repair as soon as possible.
Waiting too long can cause more damage and larger repair bills, so catching a problem as soon as possible keeps your vehicle running and your budget in check.
Avoid Costly Transmission Problems with a Local Southern California Transmission Pro
If you want to help keep your vehicle running smoothly for many years to come, be sure to keep up routine maintenance.
Be on the lookout for problems that might arise with your transmission, and always bring it to your transmission specialist as quickly as possible if you suspect anything.
A trained and experienced Southern California AAMCO transmission expert can help you diagnose and repair problems with your transmission. Don't wait until it's too late to bring your vehicle in—schedule an appointment as soon as possible!
We're Here to Help
AAMCO has more than 50 years of experience diagnosing, servicing, and repairing more than 20 million vehicles. Customers rely on us for:
- Quality repairs
- Expert technicians
- Superior customer experience
- Trustworthy, honest service
- Best warranty coverage available
AAMCO Centers of Southern California and surrounding areas represent trust, quality, and value. If you’re having cooling system trouble, call us today!