If your transmission is overheating, this can cause a lot of problems for the vehicle itself. It’s important that you avoid getting the transmission hot unless you’ll have a failing transmission and you won’t be able to drive. On some vehicles, there’s a transmission warning light and this will let you know if the transmission’s overheating or not. If you haven’t got this, then you’ll notice the engine light will come on. When the transmission overheats, it can cause a lot of damage to the transmission’s components and it can eventually lead to clutch burnout – in this case, you can no longer drive your vehicle and it’ll need to be towed.
It’s important that you know how to cool down your transmission and the main causes of why it gets hot. This will help you avoid going to the workshop to get it repaired. Making sure that the transmission never gets too hot will prevent damage – each time it does reach high temperatures, it starts to damage. The gears are the main culprit because they rub against each other a lot which can cause a lot of friction. When the transmission is at a low and healthy temperature, it’ll have better longevity and it’ll be sustained for longer mileage.
How the Transmission Fluid Cools Down the Transmission
The transmission fluid can cool down the transmission by lubricating the gears. There’s a chemical in the fluid that helps to remove heat from the transmission. If these components don’t get lubricated by the fluid, they can start to rub together, and this can cause a lot of friction which leads to overheating.
These components include the turbines, spinning gears, and the expanding springs. The heat can cause a lot of stress fractures, varnishing, and other internal damage as well as damage to the components. The transmission fluid is made so that it’ll absorb heats as it flows through the moving parts of the transmission system. The heat is moved from the transmission to the radiator so that it can be transferred to the cooling chamber where the heat is extracted out.
When air goes through the radiator, the heat is taken out and cooled fluid then goes back into the transmission, so the process starts again. If the cooling system isn’t able to remove heat from the transmission, then the transmission can overheat and damage each time it does. If you notice that the transmission feels heavy or you’ve noticed that it skips a lot, then the coolant won’t be able to do much here. If you have an old vehicle with an old transmission, then the transmission is more likely to overheat because it isn’t being cooled down by the coolant.
Fluid Temperature and the Damage Caused
The transmission fluid will reflect how hot the transmission is. So, as the temperature of the fluid increases, the temperature of the transmission will have increased. There are a few temperature milestones where you’ll start to notice the damage to the vehicle. As the temperature starts to increase, then you’ll notice more damage within the transmission.
- At 220F, you’ll see varnish forming on the metal surface.
- At 240F, you’ll notice that the seals hard.
- At 260F, the transmission bands and clutch will start to slip.
- At 295F, the seals and clutch will start to burn – at this point, the vehicle will need to be towed because too much damage has been done to the clutch.
Each time the transmission loses 20F and starts to decrease in temperature, the lifespan of the transmission will double – this is why it’s important that you prevent the transmission from overheating in the first place because the lifespan of the transmission will be dramatically decreased once it starts to overheat. As soon as it goes past 260F, the clutch will start to burn, and this can damage the torque converter.
As the fluid is exposed to heat, the organic compounds within the fluid will start to breakdown and this will cause the fluid to lose quality. You’ll notice that the fluid will start off a red color, then fade to orange, brown then eventually black. As it goes through these color changes, it starts to lose its viscosity and the fluid increasingly loses its capability of removing heat from the moving parts. You need to make sure that the transmission is being serviced every 20,000 to 30,000 miles or once everything 14-20 months unless the fluid will start to lose its capabilities. The fluid also needs to be operating at 175 degrees – if it goes higher than this, it’ll start to deteriorate and go darker which isn’t what you want.
Servicing the Fluid so the Transmission Never Overheats
Your job is to make sure that the transmission never overheats. The main reason why the transmission will overheat is that there isn’t enough transmission fluid, or the transmission fluid is worn down. There are other reasons why the transmission will overheat such as an old transmission but to make sure this doesn’t happen; you’ll need to change the transmission fluid often. There are other components that can affect the transmission’s temperature, and this includes the shift solenoid. If you don’t do routine maintenance, then you won’t be able to know what’s wrong with your vehicle. If you miss problems in your vehicle and they later turn serious, this will lead to you having to visit the dealership.
If you want to avoid an overheating transmission or problems related and save $100s of dollars that you’ll spend at the auto repair shop, you’ll need to service your vehicle often – you can use our mechanic-rated Auto Maintenance and Repair Manual to do this. It’s basically what mechanics use to go through your vehicle to check if there are any problems that need fixing. As soon as they notice the most minor problem, they’ll ask you to fork out some money even though it’s a problem you can fix yourself in minutes – the manual will teach you how to maintain your vehicle every few thousand miles and it’ll teach you how to fix minor problems that mechanics will ask you to pay for; saving you money in the long run.
A lot of our readers have the Auto Maintenance and Repair Manual printed on their garage wall and 92% of them haven’t visited the auto repair shop in the last year because they know what to do to avoid problems. All it takes is giving your vehicle a little attention every few thousand miles and you’ll never spend money at the workshop again.
Why the Transmission is Overheating
The transmission will overheat due to many different problems so it’s important that you use our maintenance manual to keep on top of this. This will allow you to check components often in your vehicle so that you never have to worry about repairing a damaged transmission.
Old Worn Out or Burned Transmission Fluid – having fluid that’s fresh will allow you keep the transmission at a good temperature, and it’ll get you down the road with no issues. However, if the fluid is worn out, burned, or old, then the transmission will easily overheat because it has nothing to cool it down. Overtime, the transmission fluid will get worn down and it’ll mix in with dirt from the road which will cause it to lose its properties. The transmission heating up is a result of low or bad fluid that needs to be changed and burnt transmission fluid results from a hot transmission.
If you do have bad fluid, you’ll need to replace it with good quality transmission fluid (View on Amazon) to make sure that the transmission doesn’t overheat. This is a cycle that can eventually lead to transmission failure. You need to make sure that the transmission fluid is clean and gets changed occasionally unless you’ll have an overheating transmission – this will also give off a strong smell that you won’t go unnoticed.
Slipping Transmission – if you notice that the transmission keeps slipping, this can indicate that parts have worn out such as the gear or clutch. However, it’s more likely that the transmission fluid is worn out rather than the parts themselves. A transmission that slips isn’t something that you should ignore and it’s a huge symptom that will save you a lot of problems from the mechanic. If the slipping continues, you need to make sure that you take a trip to the mechanic.
Damaged Solenoid – if the solenoid is damage, then less fluid will be transferred to the transmission which will cause it to overheat. The shift solenoid controls the flow of transmission fluid to transmission so the gears can be changed. The shift solenoid needs to be checked regularly to make sure that it isn’t defective.
Low Fluid – if there isn’t enough fluid to keep the transmission cool, you need to add more fluid. You can check the fluid levels by using the dipstick. Make sure to top it up using a good quality transmission fluid as this will allow the transmission to stay at a good temperature. If there isn’t enough fluid, then the converter will start slipping and this will cause it to wear down due to damage.
Overloaded Vehicle – if the vehicle is under too much load due to overheating, then this can cause it to overwork and the transmission to overheat. If you carry items on the vehicle, or it’s used to tow other vehicles, you’ll notice that the transmission will start overheating. You’ll need to stop putting the engine under too much stress to make sure that the transmission doesn’t get too hot.
Hot Weather – if you drive in hot climates, this can increase the temperature of the fluid. A hot fluid temperature means that the transmission is also hot. In counties that have hot climates, there’s usually a lot of traffic meaning people drive shorter distances and the tend to accelerate over shorter distances. This can increase the fluid temperature and cause the transmission to overheat.
Faulty Converter – if you have a faulty converter, the transmission can flip easily, and this will create more heat to the transmission fluid. You’ll need to check the transmission converter to make sure that it isn’t faulty.
How to Stop the Transmission Fluid from Getting Hot
Deeper Pan – if you want to get more out of the transmission fluid, then you’ll need to consider having a deeper pan. Deeper pans (View on Amazon) allow you to keep more fluid in the tank. This means that you don’t have to get the fluid changed as often. A deeper pan means that you’ll have more fluid which means that the transmission will be cooled down more efficiently. It’s also beneficial for vehicles in hotter countries because a lot of stress is put on the engine due to traffic. It’s best that you use an aluminum pan because it loses heat and is a worse conductor than steel.
Cooling System – you want to make sure that the cooling system is intact when you have a hot transmission. You need to check that the radiator is working optimally along with some other components.