Protect Your Transmission This Winter

The winter can be especially taxing on a vehicle. This is especially the case when it comes to the transmission. In addition to making it work harder, the cold can also have an effect on some of the internal transmission parts, causing accelerated wear. Knowing just some of the effects winter weather can have on your transmission will help you more quickly identify a problem and resolve it.  

Fluid Leaks

During the winter, the temperature routinely fluctuates over and under the freezing line. These constant changes can have an effect on the lines that carry your fluid, especially if the fluid lines are already worn. As the temperature changes, this causes the lines to expand and constrict.

For an already distressed line, this can damage the line, cause a crack, and eventually lead to a fluid leak. Leaking fluid won't just cause slippage when changing gears—if the fluid level falls too low, this can lead to overheating, which can result in complete transmission failure. Have the lines inspected to ensure they are in good condition.

Hard Shifting

When you change the gears on your transmission, the motion should be seamless. However, if you experience a jerking sensation, this is a problem. Particularly if you live in a cold climate, the temperatures could be the reason for this hard shifting.

This issue can arise during the winter for a couple of reasons. First, you might have failed to give your vehicle adequate time to warm up. Additionally, in extreme cold, some of the transmission parts can actually freeze, leading to a hard shift. Always warm up your vehicle during the winter for several minutes before driving.

Converter Clutch Damage

Snow and ice can also be problematic for your transmission, especially if you aren't exercising caution. If you hit a tough spot and start pushing on the gas, this doesn't help. It instead causes your wheels to spin. In most modern vehicles, the transmission is controlled by a computer. The computer registers the spinning wheels as a moving vehicle, causing the system to engage the converter clutch.

When the wheels finally gain traction again, your vehicle won't be traveling as fast as the wheels were spinning. The drastic and sudden drop in speed while the converter clutch is engaged can cause damage. It might not be problematic the first time, but when done repeatedly, this can cause significant transmission damage. When your vehicle is losing traction, always go with the vehicle, don't push on the gas.

Although you can't avoid the harsh effects of winter, you can minimize the impact the season has on your vehicle and transmission. At the first sign of a problem, take your vehicle to a certified mechanic at a transmission shop for repairs.