Easily the most complicated and expensive component of any Chevrolet is the transmission. Today's high-tech gearboxes contain hundreds of delicate parts that must work together flawlessly to transmit power to your wheels without fail for decades. As you might expect, repairing or replacing them is never an easy task. That's why preventative maintenance is so important if you care about your transmission. Here are a dozen Chevy transmission upkeep tips that are sure to produce positive results.
1. Warm Up the Vehicle Before Driving
If you want to squeeze as much life as possible out of a transmission, idling your Chevy for a brief period before driving is a must. Your transmission fluid should be whipped around and heated up a bit to avoid putting undue stress on gears. Likewise, your engine should be allowed to warm up to avoid thrashing the transmission during the first minutes of operation. In especially cold climates, warming your Chevy up for at least five minutes is recommended.
2. Take Care When Switching Gears
One of the worst things that you can do to any automatic transmission is grinding the gears by shifting while moving. If you need to shift to another gear, make sure that you've come to a complete stop before doing so. It's also a good idea to wait a few seconds before you shift to allow the transmission to spin down. If your Chevy has four-wheel drive, come to a stop and press firmly on the brake pedal before activating or de-activating it.
3. Employ Sound Braking Practices
If you have an automatic transmission, how you brake on hills and at stoplights can have a surprising impact on the life of your gearbox. Apply the brakes firmly when needed and try to avoid riding the pedal for long periods when coming to a gradual halt. Furthermore, it's a wise idea to use your parking brake on inclines to keep your vehicle in place. Using the parking gear to keep your Chevy from rolling is bound to hurt the transmission over the long haul.
4. Change the Fluid Religiously
If your transmission doesn't fail within the first 30,000 miles, you probably have a unit that'll last for decades if serviced properly. For the most part, this means changing the fluid often. A flush isn't required and can actually hurt your transmission. Simply draining the old fluid and refilling it with the appropriate amount of fresh fluid is the easiest way to go. After 100,000 miles, drain and fill the transmission every 25,000 miles since you'll only be replacing 25% of the transmission's capacity each time.
5. Use the Right Fluid for the Job
While changing the fluid often is important, putting the right fluid in the transmission is just as critical. Generally speaking, it's best to play it safe by simply going with the OEM fluid recommended by the manufacturer. When shopping around for transmission fluid, be sure to Google your specific model for any new updates from Chevy regarding changes to the fluid recommendation. In some cases, additives can significantly boost the longevity of your Chevy's transmission by lubricating internal seals and neutralizing harmful substances.
6. Check Your Fluid Level Regularly
Believe it or not, most Chevrolet drivers don't check their transmission fluid until a problem arises. What's worse, the majority of Chevy owners don't even know how to check their fluid properly and make matters worse by improperly adjusting the level. You should take a look at your fluid once a month just to be safe. Drive for 15 minutes before checking the fluid to ensure accurate results. Make sure to shift through the gears a few times right before taking a reading.
7. Change the Filter Regularly
While a quick drain-and-fill is a decent stopgap against transmission damage in a pinch, you'll need to change the filter sooner or later. Changing the filter on a sedan is fairly easy. All you have to do is drain the fluid, drop the pan, get rid of any metal shavings that you find and install the new filter screen. Changing the filter on trucks like the Silverado or the Avalanche is a bit more complicated. Have a mechanic change the filter if you don't feel up to it.
8. Service the Other Drivetrain Components
In any Chevy, there are a number of drivetrain parts aside from the transmission that you should keep an eye on. For instance, automatics have a torque converter that's basically the equivalent of a clutch. There are also multiple differentials and transfer cases if you have four-wheel drive. Be sure to change the fluid for every drivetrain component found on your specific Chevy on a regular basis. Keeping torque converters and differentials in good shape will take some of the pressure off of your transmission.
9. Take Care of Your Engine
No matter how you slice it, an inefficient engine is going to have a negative impact on your transmission. This is especially true if you drive an automatic. That's why it's so important to perform routine engine maintenance like oil and filter changes at a very minimum. Be sure to change air and fuel filters based on the recommendations for your Chevy car or truck. You should replace your spark plugs every 50,000 miles or so just to be on the safe side.
10. Never Haul More Weight Than Recommended
Every Chevy model has its own unique gross vehicle weight rating or GVWR that dictates how much total weight it can haul and tow. The transmission in your Chevy is carefully designed to operate within specific parameters and you're going to damage it if you exceed the GVWR. If you have a sedan, avoid cramming passengers into the back seat. If you have a truck, make sure that you're not hauling or towing more weight than recommended in your owner's manual.
11. Learn How Your Transmission Works
Nowadays, a surprising number of Chevy drivers don't really know how to use their transmissions properly. This is especially true of drivers with automatic models. Take a few minutes to flip through your owner's manual and read about the proper applications of each gear. Understand the difference between overdrive and low-range gears before you drive to avoid subjecting your transmission to unnecessary abuse. If you have a truck, be sure that you understand when you should use four-wheel drive and features like Tow/Haul Mode.
12. Keep Your Fluid as Cool as Possible
Transmission fluid is designed to keep your gearbox within a particular temperature range during operation to avoid damage. While you're driving, that fluid is usually pumped through the radiator to cool off and then returned to the transmission via hoses or steel lines. For the most part, this default cooling setup works splendidly. However, you can potentially increase your transmission's life by adding an auxiliary cooler that's even more effective. Secondary transmission fluid coolers are reasonably priced and easy to install.
The Key to Fixing Your Chevy Correctly
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