Transmission fluid serves as a lubricant to the transmission for the metal parts and bearings inside and prevent them from grinding as they move. The transmission fluid also helps to keep the transmission cool in both automatic and manual transmission vehicles.
The most common transmission fluids are automatic and manual transmission. Automatic transmission fluid is made for vehicles with automatic transmissions and is sometimes even used for some more modern manual transmission vehicles. Automatic transmission fluid also helps with transmission cooling, brake band friction, clutch friction operation, valve body operation, torque converter operator and gear lubrication. Manual transmission fluid is commonly used for older vehicles with older manual transmissions. The heavier 75W to 140W fluid doesn’t get used for automatic transmission vehicles, and some manual transmissions won’t even use manual transmission fluid. Most later model vehicles that have manual transmissions will still use automatic transmission fluid instead.
Traditional transmission fluid uses crude oil, while synthetic transmission fluid is made through different chemical reactions. Synthetic oil is less likely to oxidize, break down or thin out in high temperatures. The best way to know which one your vehicle needs is to check the vehicle manufacturer’s specifications.
Usually automatic transmission fluid is a little thinner and has a red color, although it could have a blue/grin, purple or amber tint depending on the manufacturer. This is to make itself different from motor oil and other car fluids and to spot leaks easier. Manual transmission fluid usually has a darker color, thicker consistency and a stronger smell.
Just like anything else in a vehicle, the transmission fluid will eventually break down and have debris and particles contaminate the fluid. Although it doesn’t need to be changed as much as motor oil, it still needs to be checked consistently. If the transmission fluid level drops or the fluid starts to wear down, there will be a drop in performance when shifting into gear. This could also harm the internal gears and parts since they will start grinding together due to no or bad lubricant. Some manufacturers recommend changing your transmission fluid every 30,000-60,000 miles, but it is best to follow specific recommendations from your vehicle’s manufacturer. Towing heavy loads, driving in harsh weather and constant stop-and-go driving can wear down the transmission fluid and transmission quicker.
There are several signs that your transmission fluid is low. Puddles under the car could signal a transmission fluid leak, and the color of the fluid will go from light to dark. More noise than normal could be another sign, and another clue is the warning light coming on. Delays when shifting or having the transmission slip when navigating corners could be another sign of low transmission fluid. One more clue is a slight burning, tart smell.
If you encounter any of these issues with your transmission, contact the trained professionals at Kia Service Center St. Louis. Our experienced technicians will be able to fix your transmission fluid needs. Schedule your appointment today!