Automotive care is an anomaly to many drivers; most people do not maintain their vehicles diligently, and this generally leads to problems that can become more costly and time-consuming to fix. Preventive maintenance is important to extend the life of your vehicle and save you money in the long run. Some preventive maintenance procedures that should be done regularly are: oil changes, fluid top-offs, and tire maintenance (including alignments, rotations, and keeping them filled to the right pressure level). Unfortunately, this is not all that there is when it comes to preventive maintenance. One of the most important things to always keep in mind before you take your car out for a spin is that your fluid levels should be kept at the proper level. Furthermore, choosing the right fluids for your particular vehicle is key; it can be confusing to keep up with all the different needs of your vehicle, but you could cause significant damage by using the wrong fluids. One such fluid that is vital to the life of your engine is transmission fluid.
IT SHOULD BE CHANGED AT THE RIGHT TIME
Transmission fluid should be changed at specific intervals, depending on your car’s needs; however, typically every 30,000 miles is a good mark. If you are unsure of what is best for your particular vehicle, you can always check the owner’s manual for specifics. Normally when transmission fluid is changed, the old fluid is flushed out of the system and replaced with new fluid and a new filter. Knowing what the right transmission fluid is for your car is important because if you make the wrong decision, both you and your car will pay for it. Transmission fluid is responsible for cleaning and protecting some of your engine components and keeping your vehicle working under intense temperatures, giving it the ability to cool itself more adequately.
TYPES OF TRANSMISSION FLUID
There are two well-known types of transmission fluid that you should know about: Dexron and Mercon. Some fluid types include friction modifiers or enhancers, which allow for better performance levels due to the high resistance to a wide range of temperatures from cold to hot. What type of fluid you need is going to depend highly on the type of car you drive. For instance, Type F transmission fluid is used mostly for vintage vehicles, and should not be used on newer model cars; the reason for this lies in the absence of friction modifiers—newer cars rely heavily on fluids that contain these modifiers in order to keep the car running well under a variety of conditions. For cars that need increased amounts of friction modifiers, they will typically need HFM (highly friction modified) fluids. Another type, and probably the most commonly used, are synthetic fluids. While synthetic fluids are generally more costly, they are worth the investment if you truly care about your car’s performance level remaining intact.
USE FLUID ACCORDING TO YOUR VEHICLE
Between synthetic and more traditional fluids, there are advantages and disadvantages to both, depending on what type of car you drive. As previously mentioned, synthetic fluids are typically for higher performance engines and more modern vehicles. Synthetic fluids are more versatile for a range of climate conditions, mostly in warmer temperatures. If you drive an older car, you should likely use a traditional transmission fluid because that is generally what older engines need.
If you would like to remain a diligent car owner, you should have all of your fluids checked at the 3,000 mile mark where most people get their oil changed. Most drivers avoid having superfluous services performed when they get their oil changed for a number of reasons, mainly the cost and time involved. However, when you stay on top of the preventive maintenance that your car needs, including changing the transmission fluid and having it flushed at the proper intervals, you will end up saving yourself the hassle of costly repairs later down the line. Finding a mechanic that you trust to simply say, “do an all-around check, and let me know what you find” is crucial; they can help explain issues that may be of significant importance versus issues that can wait a little longer before becoming problematic. Part of finding a trustworthy mechanic is being able to rely on them to make smart choices, like what type of transmission fluid will work best for your vehicle.