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Tips to Extend the Life of Your Automatic Transmission

Transmission problems can be costly. Automatic transmissions require more repairs than manual transmissions, on average, and these repairs tend to cost more. If your transmission needs to be replaced, you can easily be looking at a bill of more than $2,000. The good news is there are plenty of steps you can take to extend the life of your automatic transmission to avoid costly repairs.

Check your transmission fluid level regularly


One of the most important things you can do as a car owner is checking your transmission fluid often. Many common transmission problems occur because the transmission fluid level is low or the fluid is dirty and isn't flushed. Low or dirty transmission fluid means your transmission components aren't lubricated and begin to wear out. They can also allow your transmission to overheat quickly. Either problem can damage your transmission beyond repair.

Get your transmission serviced every 30,000 miles


Along with checking fluid levels often, schedule your transmission for servicing every 2 years or 30,000 miles. This maintenance involves changing the filter and fluid. Changing the transmission fluid regularly is one of the most cost-effective ways to extend the life of your transmission and improve the performance of your vehicle.

Update to synthetic transmission fluid


When it's time to get your transmission fluid flushed and replaced, consider upgrading to synthetic fluid. Synthetic fluid usually provides better performance by resisting heat, cold, and oxidation to extend the lifespan of your transmission. While synthetic fluid costs a bit more, it's worth the money.

Maintain your vehicle's cooling system


Heat is the number one source of damage to transmissions so it pays to keep your vehicle's radiator in good condition. The radiator helps cool your transmission so make sure you get the system serviced every two years. This maintenance includes replacing your antifreeze, checking your coolant levels, inspecting for leaks, checking the thermostat, and testing the radiator cap pressure.

Change your transmission filter


Your filter should be changed every time you change the transmission fluid. Choose a high-quality filter that keeps debris from entering the transmission.

Go easy after a cold start-up


Drive slowly and avoid hard acceleration for the first few miles after you start with a cold transmission. It will take a couple of miles for your transmission to reach its ideal operating temperature.

Don't tow beyond your vehicle's limits


If you drive a pickup, avoid towing anything beyond the manufacturer's towing limit. Towing above this limit will cause excessive heat and may cause your transmission to fail. This is the second major cause of transmission failure after a lack of fluid change.

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