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How heat affects your automatic transmission fluid:
Once a vehicle is in motion, it doesn't take long for the automatic transmission fluid (ATF) to heat up. Even under normal driving conditions the ATF temperature will rise to 80 degrees C (175 F), which is the usual temperature range at which most fluids are designed to operate. In fact, if the temperature could be kept at 80 degrees C, the ATF would last a significant amount of time (& distance). But once the fluid temperature increases beyond this, the life of the fluid begins to decrease. Every 20 degree increase in operating temperature above 80 degrees C decreases the life of the ATF by half.
Even normal driving conditions can cause the ATF temperature to increase beyond safe limits. But other factors can cause an increase in temperature such as: towing a trailer, mountain driving, driving at sustained high speeds during hot weather, stop & go driving in traffic. Problems in the cooling system itself such as a low coolant level, defective cooling fan, fan clutch, thermostat or water pump or obstructed radiator etc, will also diminish ATF cooling efficiency.
At elevated operating temperatures the ATF oxidizes & turns brown , taking on a smell like burnt toast. As heat destroys the fluid's lubricating qualities & friction material, varnish begins to form on internal parts (such as the valve body). This directly interferes with the correct operation of the transmission. If the temperature increases above 120 degrees C (250 F), the rubber seals begin to harden which in turn leads to fluid leaks & pressure losses. At higher temperatues the transmission begins to slip which aggravates the overheating even more. Eventually the clutches burn out & transmission fails.
How to care for your automatic transmission:
(Cars Guide: Courier Mail Aug 13-14 2011)
Most makers today tell us that the automatic transmissions in our cars are "filled for life" on the assembly line & will never need servicing. But to take that advice on face value is to court disaster. The fluid in an automatic transmission is its lifeblood. It depends on it to operate efficiently over a long period of time & to ignore it is to risk an expensive meltdown.
Makers tell you automatic transmissions don't need servicing but specialists in the field say regular maintenance is required to keep them working the way they should. It doesn't matter what you're told, oil breaks down over time & with high temperature its efficiency is reduced.
The service routine recommended by specialists for cars in normal use is to change the oil & filter every 12 months, which equates to 20,000 km & carry out a full flush of the transmission every two years. For vehicles working in more punishing conditions, such as hilly terrain, on sandy tracks, using 4-wheel drive or towing regularly, those intervals should be reduced.
It's also important to ensure the fluid doesn't overheat, which usually happens because the transmission is worked too hard. If you plan to tow with your vehicle on a regular basis, consider having an external transmission oil cooler fitted.
Proper maintenance is important to the safe, reliable operation of your motor vehicle. Your automatic transmission should be serviced every 20,000 km or once a year to keep it in top working condition.
Sure-Shift Automatics are the performance transmission specialists
Improve your vehicle's performance (and race times) with faster, smoother shifts, through Sure-Shift modifications.
We specialize in 6L80e upgrades (read more in "performance products").
Our rebuilt, modified 4L60e & 4L65e transmissions are extremely durable and handle up to 500HP.
We build transmissions to suit your aspirated, blown, or turbo-charged vehicle.
We supply all race components, shifters, shift kits, manual valve bodies, servos & hi-performance parts.
We supply & fit hi-stall torque converters to suit your application.
Cnr Bilsen Road & Virginia Street l Virginia QLD 4014 l (07) 3216 2975 firstname.lastname@example.org