Proactive Tips To Avoid Excessive Wear Or Failure Of Your Old Vehicle's Transmission
If you own an older car and are trying to eek out as many more useful miles out of it as you can before giving in and buying another vehicle, then you need to take special care of its transmission. Once your vehicle's value drops down to a few thousand dollars, then a rebuild or replacement of the transmission will cost more than its total value and typically signals it's time to sell the vehicle to a dismantler.
To proactively avoid transmission failure or excessive wear in an older vehicle, follow these tips:
Tip: Check the Transmission Fluid Every Time You Check the Oil
Each time you check your oil, make sure you also check the transmission fluid level and the quality of the fluid. Unlike checking the oil, you need to turn on the vehicle while you pull the transmission fluid's dipstick. After you pull out the dipstick and check the level, wipe off the dipstick on a clean paper towel before putting it back.
The transmission fluid on the paper towel should be a cherry-red color and ideally should not have any visible metal particles. However, as a transmission ages, it starts to wear and it is common for the fluid to appear a bit darker in color and will sparkle in the sun from the metal particles in it.
If the fluid is brown or smells burned, it's getting near time to start shopping for your new car.
Tip: Don't Ever Change the Transmission Fluid Without a Solid Reason
Older transmissions that have not been maintained have a habit of failing soon after their fluid is changed. While you should change the oil and other automotive fluids, you shouldn't ever drop the pan and replace the transmission fluid. There are a few times when you have no choice but to replace the fluid, such as a leaking filter or damage to the pan, but otherwise, leave well enough alone.
Tip: Visit a Mechanic Now Not When the Transmission Shows Signs of a Problem
Remember that old saying about an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? When it comes to aging automobiles, having their transmissions inspected and repaired by a licensed mechanic before they start missing gears, leaking fluid, or hesitating when shifting is often the difference between small repair bill and the necessity of buying a new car. Rather than waiting, have your older car's transmission looked at by an auto transmission repair shop in your area and have any minor repairs made to protect the transmission and extend its life.