Transmission Service – Taking Charge of Car Maintenance

Transmission service is part of your car’s recommended regular maintenance and involves a transmission flush and transmission fluid change. Staying on schedule with your transmission maintenance will help your car to perform at its best, and keep it running reliably over time.

Transmission service typically includes the following steps:

  • Removal and inspection of the  pan
  • Replacement or cleaning of the screen or filter
  • Cleaning and reinstalling the pan with a new pan gasket
  • Removal of the old transmission fluid and replacing it with fresh fluid

Why is transmission service necessary?

As with many essential  automotive fluids, transmission fluid degrades over time. The high operating temperature of the transmission puts strain on the transmission and the fluid, which serves to facilitate gear shifts, cool the transmission, and keep the moving components lubricated. Some types of driving, such as frequent stop-and-go traffic or heavy hauling can accelerate transmission fluid deterioration.

Transmission flush service flushes out the old fluid and washes away tiny particles of clutch material and metal shavings that can accumulate as the fluid ages. Left unchecked, those particles will clog passages and wedge between moving parts, causing wear within the transmission. Changing the fluid gets rid of those particles and eliminates the wear they cause.

Regular transmission service allows your transmission to function better for years longer, which means you’re less likely to breakdown and be faced with a major transmission repair. 

How often is transmission service needed?

The usual time frame for having transmission service is every 50,000 miles. See your owner’s manual for your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations.

Next in our Taking Charge of Car Maintenance series, we will look at Tune-up & Spark Plug Replacement.

Coolant Flushes – Taking Charge of Car Maintenance

The primary job of coolant, or antifreeze as it is sometimes called, is to transfer excess heat from your car’s engine to the radiator. The coolant absorbs the heat and moves it to the radiator where it is dispersed into the air. It is also distributed through the heat exchanger into the passenger area of your car when the heating system is used. While water alone could transfer the heat, its affects would be too corrosive to the engine. For this reason coolant is used, which is comprised of a 50/50 ratio mixture of ethylene or propylene glycol and water.

Why are coolant flushes necessary?

Over time, the beneficial elements in coolant breakdown since it functions in such a hot and hostile environment. When the coolant’s rust inhibitors get depleted, the confined cooling passages in the engine and radiator are vulnerable to corrosion.

The engine block is the main source of rust in a car’s cooling system. Eventually rust deposits can accumulate and clog the cooling system and radiator. This causes overheating, which is the most common cause of engine damage and breakdowns. A coolant flush and fill will prevent these deposits and overheating.  Having a coolant flush and keeping the coolant fresh is definitely less expensive than repairing a heater core or radiator, or head gasket.

How often are coolant flushes necessary?

The typical time frame for having a coolant flush is two years or 30,000 miles. See your owner’s manual for your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations.

Next in our Taking Charge of Car Maintenance series, we will look at Transmission Service.


Tire Rotation – Taking Charge of Car Maintenance

Tire rotation involves rotating or repositioning tires by moving them from one side of the vehicle to the other. This can also include moving them from front to back. Tires can be prone to wear differently depending on their position, the condition of your suspension, as well as the way you drive. When your service technician rotates the tires on your car, typically the front tires are exchanged with the rear tires. In most cases the driver side tires stay on the driver side and the passenger side tires stay on that side, however with certain types of vehicles or tires this approach may vary.

Why is tire rotation necessary?

Tire rotation is an essential maintenance operation that over time will save you money by protecting your tire investment. Rotating your tires is so important because of the different ways front and rear tires wear. Front tires are subjected to much more pressure than rear tires, so the tread wears faster on the front tires. By rotating the tires, you can balance out the wear, getting the most out of all four tires, and making sure that all four tires have a safe amount of tread. This is why regular tire rotation also enhances driving safety. And as if safety were not reason enough to have regular tire rotations done, keep in mind that inconsistent  tread wear can lead to poor performance and bad gas mileage.

You spend a lot of money on those tires! Why not protect your investment? Tire rotation service will keep your vehicle safe and to keep your tires properly maintained to get the most from them.    

How often is tire rotation necessary?

Generally speaking,  tire rotation is recommended every 5,000 to 10,000 miles. Your service manual will provide you with the best maintenance schedule for your particular make and model vehicle.

Next in our Taking Charge of Car Maintenance series, we will look at Coolant Flushes.

Oil Changes – Taking Charge of Car Maintenance

Think of oil as the life blood of your car. Like the blood in your body, your car’s oil serves a vital function. As the lubricant for its engine, oil allows engine components to operate without damage resulting from metal to metal contact. Metal friction creates a substantial amount of heat. Without oil, eventually the surfaces of the metal components would weld together, causing the engine to seize.

Why are oil changes necessary?

Oil needs to be changed regularly because your engine’s high operating temperatures lead to the thermal breakdown of oil.  Oil becomes less effective as a lubricant as dirt accumulates in it. Though the filter traps much of the dirt, eventually the filter will clog and dirty oil will bypass the filter. As the contaminated oil becomes dirty and thick, it becomes abrasive, causing more component wear.

Another reason oil needs to be replaced is because it is formulated with additives. These additives improve the oil’s effectiveness and include detergents, dispersants, rust-fighters and friction reducers.  When these additives break down, the oil does not lubricate as well as it should.

Neglecting regular oil changes will eventually result in poor engine performance. Clean oil performs much more efficiently than dirty oil, so regular oil changes are essential to vehicle’s performance and safety.

How often is an oil change necessary?

Typically changes should be performed every 3,000 miles but vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations may vary – you should always consult your owner’s manual to find out the proper schedule for your car. At the time of your oil change, your technician will also change your oil filter to protect the clean oil.

Next in our Taking Charge of Car Maintenance series, we will look at Tire Rotation.

Taking Charge of Car Maintenance

Let’s face it – it’s human nature to put things off. To make matters worse,  in this age of extreme multi-tasking it just seems like there are more and more things to do in a day. If you are like me, the things you tend to procrastinate on are the things you are not sure about or just don’t understand very well. For example, this is the time of year when my husband starts getting nervous, telling me that we really need to sit down and work on our taxes. I literally shudder.

When it comes to tires and car maintenance, for me, that’s a whole different story. Probably because I am passionate about all things automotive, but also because I understand so much about auto maintenance. The more you know about car maintenance, the more likely you will be to take charge and get things done. Not only will you understand what needs to be done, you will have a clearer picture of why car maintenance services are so important.

Over the next few weeks, I will offer a more in depth look at some of the maintenance services that need to be  done regularly:

My goal with this series is not to make you an expert, but to help you understand these services and why they are important, so you can take charge of your car maintenance.