What You Need to Know About Automatic Transmission Fluid

Along with engine oil and some other fluids like radiator coolant, transmission fluid is absolutely vital to the health and performance of your vehicle. If you are low on transmission fluid (also known as transmission oil or automatic transmission fluid—ATF) or the fluid itself is not fresh and clean, you will experience problems. It can lead to serious internal transmission fluid or do damage to sensitive equipment such as the the clutch system in manual transmission vehicles or the torque converter in automatic transmission cars, trucks and SUVs.

Here are a few things you need to know about transmission fluid, according to the Colorado Springs auto repair specialists at LightHouse Automotive:

1. Transmission Fluid Quality

In order for your transmission to be healthy, it needs clean transmission fluid. The fluid provides important lubricating and cooling properties between fast moving parts, and it also provides hydraulic pressure in the torque converter found in automatic vehicles. If the fluid is crusty, burnt, milky, dirty or full of metal shavings, it needs to be replaced as soon as possible. You may just need a standard transmission service to change out the fluid, filter and pan gasket, or bad transmission fluid could also be the sign of more significant internal transmission damage.

2. Transmission Fluid Level

You need to maintain a recommended level of clean transmission fluid. Review your vehicle owner's manual to see how to manually check your own transmission fluid level and quality. Also, check regularly under your car for any fluid leaks. Transmission fluid is generally bright red in color and leaks would typically come from under the middle of your vehicle, so transmission fluid leaks are easy to identify most of the time. If your fluid level is low or you find a leak, you will want to get your car inspected and serviced as soon as possible. 

3. Transmission Fluid Types

There are many different types of automatic transmission fluid, so you have to be extremely careful if you are ever trying to refill it yourself or perform your own maintenance. Using the wrong type of transmission fluid in your vehicle can lead to major problems. When in doubt, leave it to the expert auto repair technicians who can make sure the right fluid is being used.

4. Fluid for All Transmissions

Though it's called automatic transmission fluid, all types of transmissions need proper fluid to operate. This includes manual transmission vehicles and modern continuously variable transmissions (CVTs). Whether the car is old or new, the transmission needs to be serviced periodically to keep it running well and help prevent major problems from developing. 

5. Transmission Maintenance and Repairs

A standard transmission service should be done as needed. How often it's required can vary, so consult with your vehicle owner's manual or your mechanic to keep the preventative transmission maintenance on schedule. When it comes to transmission repairs, you will want to deal with minor things as they come up rather than waiting for major problems to develop. It is not cheap to get your transmission rebuilt or replaced, so you don't want to take chances by driving too long with a transmission you know has issues.

6. Signs of Transmission Problems

There are many signs of transmission problems, including the vehicle feeling sluggish, transmission fluid leaks, slipping between gears, grinding gears and other unusual noises. At the first sign of a transmission issue, you will want to take your car or truck to an automotive specialist.

If you are experiencing transmission problems or just want to schedule routine transmission maintenance in Colorado Springs, call LightHouse Automotive today at (719) 465-0302 or book your appointment online.

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