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5 Things You Should Never Do in an Automatic Transmission Car

Do you own a car with automatic transmission?

A car with an automatic transmission can make life easier. You don’t have to change gears in an automatic car while driving so you could focus better on the road. By 2025, the automatic transmission is likely to take up at least 25 percent of the total automobiles market.

Meanwhile, a CVT (continuously variable transmission) may offer a smoother driving experience. Furthermore, it’s favourable for fuel efficiency and acceleration. But you might prefer having more control on your auto gearbox. In that case, a tiptronic transmission is ideal for you. It allows you to change gears in an automatic car while driving. The tiptronic gear lets you drive uphill or overtake the vehicle ahead of you (We recommend you not to do the latter though!)

But did you know there are a few ways that could mess up the life of your vehicle? Here are a few of the most important factors to remember:  

5 Don’ts

1.      Don’t drive an automatic car through water

Maneuvering your vehicle through flooded roads is a handy skill to master if you live in Sri Lanka. Thanks to the monsoon seasons, the skies split open and the roads turn into rivers! But that can be problematic for your vehicle. Water can damage an automatic transmission gearbox. Even the smallest amount of water can be risky.

Once water seeps into the transmission, the friction lining of the clutches absorbs it. This dissolves the glue that joins the clutch plate with the connecting materials. Furthermore, some amount of water comes out of the suspension. This forms into white gooey masses in different parts of the unit. As a result, you can’t flush all the water out. Moreover, the metal parts of the transmissions may also rust because of the water. So, you may have to replace the transmission.

You might need to be extra cautious when driving during a heavy rainfall. 

Rainfall in Sri Lanka 

  • First inter-monsoon season (March-April) – Amount of rainfall varies between 100 and 250 mm across the island.
  • Southwest monsoon season (May-Sept) – Amount of rainfall varies between 100 mm to over 3000 mm across the island.
  • Second inter-monsoon season (Oct-Nov) – Strong winds, thunderstorms and landslides may occur. Floods are very common during this period. The amount of rainfall ranges anywhere between 400 mm and 1200 mm.
  • Northeast monsoon season (Dec-Feb) – Amount of rainfall can be as low as 177 mm to over 1281 mm in certain parts of the island.

Source: Department of Meteorology, Sri Lanka (2016)

Photo by Angga Pratama from Unsplash

A certain level of rainfall is quite normal around the island throughout the year. Yet, particular months are more prone to flooding. A better solution would be to take an Uber or find alternative routes before you head out in times like these. Plan ahead to navigate around this problem.

But flooded roads are not the only method for water to infiltrate your transmission. A leak in the engine radiator can be the culprit too. This combines the engine coolant and transmission fluid. Meanwhile, moisture on the dipstick tube is another cause. During a car wash, water may drip into the dipstick. So, what should you do if the water does get into the automatic transmission? Opt for a transmission fluid change. For this reason, transmission service is likely to be useful.

2.     Don’t shift to reverse while the car is moving

We’ve all made this blunder at some point or the other. You might be in a hurry but that’s not a good enough reason to commit this mistake. In fact, this even makes it into the list of what not to do in a manual car. If you shift to reverse while the vehicle is still moving, then you may damage your transmission. The reason is you’re not using the brake but the transmission itself to shift. After all, brakes are cheaper to replace than dealing with a transmission wreckage.

Automatic transmissions function with fluid. Various gears and parts make up this system such as sun gears, planetary gears, friction discs, spacer plates, springs, shafts, etc. Any of these components may get damaged if you handle the transmission recklessly. Meanwhile, it’s also important to follow this rule with manual geared cars. It depends on a number of physical and countergears as well as rings, sleeves, shift forks and shafts. Using extreme force is not such a great idea. In fact, there’s a chance the transmission case may break.

3.     Don’t leave it in “Drive” if the car is idling for a long time

Driving an automatic car in traffic is not the most exciting adventure for a vehicle owner. Especially if you’re caught in peak hour traffic. Besides dealing with noise pollution and rude drivers, you’re also putting your car at risk. When the car is in “Drive” the transmission is still working. This means the torque converter is also spinning. As a result, the transmission may overheat. The smartest thing to do would be to turn off the car. Or instead, you can switch to “Park” or “Neutral”. Unlike in “Drive” mode, the torque converter does not direct too much power while the car is in “Park”.

4. Avoid doing burnouts

If you love your car, this is something you need to steer clear of. Burnouts put undue pressure on your transmission. Additionally, it wears out the tires and may not turn out to be quite as safe as you think it is on the streets.

 Photo by Sam Pearce-Warillow from Unsplash            

 5.  Don’t forget to change the automatic transmission fluid

It’s important to change the transmission fluid as often as needed. This is true for a manual, a semi-automatic transmission or even one of the latest auto gear cars. The transmission fluid deteriorates over time. It has many functions to perform. For e.g. lubricating parts, cooling the transmission and shifting gears. Thus, check the transmission fluid at least every 3 months. Look out for indicators such as a darkening of the colour or a burnt odour. This suggests that now it’s time to change the transmission fluid.

Furthermore, newer models use synthetic fluid. This is more heat resistant. Yet, it’s safe to change the transmission liquid every 60,000 to 80,000 miles.  Regular change is necessary to keep your vehicle in its best condition.

Quick Facts

  • Never put it on “Neutral” while driving downhill. Instead, shift to the second or base gear. However, if you manually shift an automatic transmission to the second or base gear regularly, it can harm the automatic transmission.
  • Pick a more modern and developed car wash centre. Newer places are likely to use microfiber and foam brushes. These are gentler on the car’s finish than abrasive brushes some older centres are likely to use.
  • Ensure your engine’s cooling system is in good condition. It prevents the engine from overheating and cools the transmission fluid.

Car Troubles

Time to time every vehicle encounters problems. But keep this in mind. You will not have to spend too much on repairs and replacements often if you take good care of your car. In case you ever need to shop for auto-parts and accessories, ikman Vehicles is the right website for you. ikman has a range of products and sellers to choose from. Moreover, it’s easier to compare prices. It also has one of the largest listings of new and reconditioned vehicles for sale online. So, if you’ve been fantasizing about your dream vehicle, now is the time to start looking for it.

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