Winter Hazards On Your Transmissions

Winters in the Hudson Valley can be brutal, especially if you commute to work. How you deal with those snowy commutes can have dramatic effects on your transmissions.

Cold Temperatures- Winter means COLD weather. As the temperature drops, fluids begin to thicken, reducing their ability to lubricate. By just driving your vehicle slowly for the first few miles your engine and transmission can reach normal operating temperature.

 Avoid letting your car idle for extended periods, while your vehicle may be warm to you the engine will be running rich, creating pollution, damaging the catalytic converter, and using expensive fuel to go nowhere.
 For many transmissions, engine idling may cause internal damages. Some transmissions don't create lube flow with the shifter in park. Oil won't start flowing through the cooler and lube will circulate until you put the shifter into drive. So internal parts are spinning - ice cold- with no lube flow. No good.

Snow and Ice- Driving in snow and ice is a part of a normal winter. One thing you might not be familiar with is what can happen if you get stuck. Too often, drivers spin their wheels, trying to free themselves from a snow drift or icy patch. This can cause major damage to your transmission. Today’s cars use a computer to control the transmission. When you spin the wheels the computer sees the vehicle speed rising, and in most cases it has no way of knowing that you aren’t moving. When the speedometer registers around 40 mph, the computer sees the speed and identifies driving conditions as being right to engage the converter clutch. Now the engine is locked directly to the drive wheels. If the wheels regain traction, their speed will drop suddenly. The results can be catastrophic for your transmissions.

The best way to get out of a drift or icy patch is to rock back and forth by going forward and reversing until you can get moving again. Or better yet, get someone to push or pull you out of the snow. Avoiding spinning the wheels, or you could end up damaging the transmission.

Water in the transmission- None of the major components of your car can survive indefinitely with water in their internal components. But none of those components can be damaged as quickly by water as your transmission. Even the smallest amount of water can result in failure and a major repair bill. The reason is the clutch linings and band are hygroscopic, that is, they absorb water, even if they have to push transmission fluid out of the linings to do it.  The water quickly finds its way down to the metal backing, and causes them to rust and lifts the linings off the clutches and bands. This results in metal to metal contact, which always means serious damage. To avoid this type of trouble, steer clear of deep puddles. If your vehicle becomes submerged do not start the engine. Have your vehicle towed to a transmission shop to be drained and to avoid further damages.

Whether it's snow, ice, water, or just cold weather, winter delivers a whole new set of conditions just waiting to damage your transmission. If you have any questions or need to schedule a return call us at (845) 522-8104

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