Why should I be monitoring my transmission?

Posted by Erica on Apr 19, 2018

Monitoring your transmission can be very crucial to the life of your vehicle, yet some drivers are not exactly sure how important it can be. Here we’ll break down what your transmission does, what types of transmissions there are, why monitoring your transmission is important and how you can avoid risk to your vehicle’s transmission.

What does the transmission do?

Transmission converts the force given off from the engine into a source of power. The transmission works as a mediator between the engine and the wheels of your vehicle to convert the force from the engine into torque, which results in the turning of your vehicle’s wheels. Engines typically operate at a high rotational speed which can be anywhere from 600 to 7000 RPMS, while the wheels rotate at a much slower rate which can be anywhere from 0 to 1800 RPMS. This means that the engine produces a power that is too high to produce a usable speed for the driver, which is where the need for the transmission comes in.

Two main types of transmissions

There are two main types of transmissions: automatic and manual.

Manual transmissions come in two basic types, a sliding mesh or unsynchronized/non-synchronous system and the common constant-mesh gearboxes which can include non-synchronized or synchronized/synchromesh systems. A sliding-mesh transmission system is where straight-cut spur gear sets spin freely and must be synchronized by the operator matching engine revs to road speed to avoid noisy and damaging clashing of gears. A constant-mesh gearbox system is typically where diagonal cut helical (sometimes either straight-cut or double-helical) gear sets are constantly meshed together and a dog clutch is used for changing gears.

Automatic transmissions are available in a few different types that include hydraulic automatic transmission, continuously variable transmission, and semi-automatic transmissions. Hydraulic systems use fluid coupling in the place of a clutch of a manual transmission and the gears change by hydraulically locking and unlocking a system of planetary gears. A continuously variable transmission can seamlessly change through a continuous range of effective gear ratios. A semi-automatic transmission facilitates manual gear changes by dispensing with the need to press a clutch pedal at the same time as changing gears.

In short, manual transmissions require the driver to manually change gear ratios, where automatic transmissions will change the gear ratios on its own through the use of transmission fluid.

Monitoring your transmission

Monitoring your transmission temperature is very important for ensuring that your vehicle’s transmission is optimally functioning. Transmission repair can be a real nightmare and monitoring your transmission temperature will steer you clear of that.

Out of all of the transmission problems you can experience, the biggest arises from excessive overheating. It is estimated that almost 90% of automatic transmission failures are a direct result of the transmission overheating. Common factors that contribute to an overheating transmission can be heavy towing, stop and go traffic, hot climates or a bad transmission cooler. Overheating is most likely caused by overworked transmission fluid, leaks, or low fluid levels. Transmission fluid is the vehicle’s transmission life line. Transmission fluid provides crucial functions such as lubrication, fluid pressure, and cooling. The ideal temperature of the fluid is under 175° but when fluid ages and starts to break down, it becomes less effective and can lose the ability to cool down the transmission. This is when your transmission is at risk to overheating. At 220° your fluid can form varnish, at 240° seals start to harden, at 260° you can experience transmission slipping as plates slip and at 295° seals and clutches can start to burn, fluid can form carbon, and transmission failure could be right around the corner.

Avoid any risk

To avoid the risk of transmission problems and failure, we recommend installing or upgrading your transmission cooler to help maintain fluids at a comfortable temperature. The use of a transmission protectant when changing the fluid and a transmission temperature gauge to constantly be monitoring those vital temperatures. Other ways you can prevent transmission overheating is by checking the fluids often, changing your fluids regularly, and regularly changing the coolant. By keeping a constant eye on your transmission and fluid, you shouldn’t have to fear the worst about transmission repair.