Updated April 12th, 2017

Fairfax, Virginia - The transmission is a complicated and very expensive component of your engine; however, it operates under the same principles as a multi-speed bike.  When you are trying to understand how your transmission works, just visualize when you learned how to change gear on your first 10-speed bike. On a bicycle, the chain lifts to different gears based on the speed you are traveling.  If the chain doesn't connect the corresponding gears or the chain has fallen off, you will have a tough time getting going. Though a transmission doesn’t have a chain, it does have gears that need to connect at various speeds to ensure your car can accelerate and decelerate.  The gears in your transmission control the amount of power that your engine sends to your wheels.  An automatic and manual transmission achieve this in two different ways, with the same result.


Transmission fluid loses effectiveness gradually. Changing your transmission fluid at routine periods at Hogan & Sons Tire and Auto in Fairfax, VA, may lengthen the life of the transmission and protect against particular transmission problems.


Manual Transmission

In a manual transmission, the clutch works to disconnect the engine and the transmission temporarily.  Then when you use the gear shifter the clutch re-engages that transmission at the desired gear.  Just like on your bicycle if you jump from 1st to 4th gear your clutch will not be able to re-engage properly, and your car will stall.


Automatic Transmission

Automatic transmissions remove the human element from shifting gears.  Automatic transmissions still operate in the same way, but instead of a manual clutch, they use a torque converter that senses when your vehicle needs to shift to a higher gear.  


How to Maintain your Transmission

Your transmission is a crucial part of your engine.  It not only allows your car to drive it can dramatically impact your fuel economy.  A large part of maintaining your transmission is monitoring the fluid that keeps it running smoothly.


Check Your Transmission Fluid

Start by determining whether or not your car should be running during this test.  This can dramatically impact the accuracy of the test.

  1. Open the hood

  2. Locate the transmission fluid dipstick

  3. Remove the dipstick and wipe it clean

  4. Reinsert the dipstick and remove

  5. Check that the fluid reached the indicated full line


If your check reveals that you are low on transmission fluid, you can simply add more to the tank from where you removed the dipstick. Be sure to go slow, so you don’t overfill.  If your transmission fluid appears to be in bad condition, gritty or dirty looking, its time for you to change your transmission fluid.


Changing Your Transmission Fluid

Changing your transmission fluid is something best left to the experts.  Experts recommend a transmission fluid change at intervals of 30,000 and up to 100,000 miles.  Check your vehicle's manual or contact your local Auto Care professional to see when you need to change the transmission fluid in your vehicle.  


Get your transmission inspected if:
  • Your automobile won't move
  • Difficulty shifting gears
  • Transmission seems to be slipping
  • Transmission is abnormally loud
  • Leaking transmission fluid (magenta tinted and sweet smelling)
  • Grinding sounds when shifting gears
  • Issues with the clutch

Maintaining your vehicle doesn't have to be expensive.  The Hogan & Sons Tire and Auto team is available to educate you on preventative maintenance - stopping problems before they start.  Hogan & Sons Tire can check your vehicle’s “vital” signs and provide recommendations for future service.  A proactive mindset can help you avoid future problems and ensure your vehicle is operating in a way that’ll keep you and your fellow passengers safe.


*Always check your owner’s manual for your vehicle model’s specific instructions before attempting any type of repair. Copyright Hogan & Sons Tire and Auto April 2017