10 main driver mistakes that can quickly kill any automatic car

If you get into extreme driving, haul heavy trailers or skid off-road, not a single automatic transmission can withstand such a load. Automatic transmission repair has never been cheap, but now, due to problems with the delivery of spare parts, it has become even more expensive. Therefore, it is important for every driver that the automatic transmission lasts as long as possible. We tell you how not to “kill” the box ahead of time and extend its service life as much as possible.

Start or move in extreme mode

If you sharply press both pedals to the floor and then suddenly release the brake, the car will take off with slipping, roaring and smoke from under the wheels. The spectacle is spectacular, but the action is dangerous.

The fact is that the torque converter experiences extreme loads during such a start. The working fluids quickly boil, transferring heat to the box. As a result, it overheats. Due to high temperatures, liquids lose their working properties and cease to perform their functions.

In addition, the heat will destroy plastic parts and torque converter lockup components.

If you often start in this way or get carried away with drifting, then the “automatic machine” will very quickly collapse. We’ll have to look for a replacement. If you can’t give up extreme style, then it’s better to switch to a car with a manual or robotic gearbox, which contains not a torque converter, but a sports clutch.

Slipping off-road

Automatic transmissions are extremely sensitive to slipping, since they are designed for driving on smooth roads and asphalt. The designers, knowing about the vulnerability of the mechanism, included a certain margin of safety. Therefore, a one-time slip can be painless. But if you often drive through difficult terrain, or skid in mud or snow, the automatic transmission won’t last long.

If the car is stuck, then you need to pull it out of captivity correctly. First of all, you cannot quickly and often change gears from forward to reverse, rocking the car. It is also harmful to skid for a long time in the hope of finding solid support and getting out of the trap.

In this case, it is better to place boards, branches or tree trunks, interior mats or a tarpaulin under the wheels. Or ask someone around you to push the car out of the trap.

Ignore towing rules

Not so long ago, drivers were advised to adhere to the “50×50” rule when towing. According to it, the car could be pulled at a speed of no more than 50 km/h for a distance of 50 km. But this applied to old cars with the first models of automatic machines.

Today, conditions have become more stringent as boxes have become not only more sophisticated, but also vulnerable. Now you should follow the “30×30” rule: speed – up to 30 km/h, distance – no more than 30 km. And for some machines this is also prohibited. Their manufacturers only allow transportation by tow truck.

The fact is that when the engine is turned off, the pump does not supply working fluids to the box. When the car is towed, the gearbox elements rotate almost dry, without lubrication. This leads to accelerated wear and failure.

The car must be towed in compliance with the rules: at low speed and over a short distance. If you are asked to tow another vehicle, first compare it with the size and weight of your vehicle. You can agree if they are in the same weight category. Another thing is an SUV or other large car. By taking it in tow, you risk overheating and breaking your box.

Transport heavy trailers

City hatchbacks and crossovers with automatic transmissions are not designed for carrying cargo. Transporting a heavy trailer places additional stress on the mechanism, which it may not be able to withstand. Especially if you often travel with a trailer, transport cargo over long distances or in difficult terrain.

Change gears on the go

Many drivers are in a hurry to make a maneuver and therefore do not wait until they come to a complete stop. Even if the car has almost stopped and is already rolling slightly, such actions can cause parts to break. First, the shaft locking mechanism will be damaged, then the hydraulic valves.

To prevent this from happening, change gears when the car is completely stopped.

Drive away without warming up

Do not forget that not only the engine, but also the transmission needs to be warmed up. In summer, a couple of minutes is enough for the engine to reach at least 20 degrees, in winter it takes longer. And you don’t need to start right away at high speed. It is better to start slowly, driving for several kilometers at low speed. When the fluid in the automatic transmission warms up to 50-90 degrees, then you can accelerate.

If you start right away without waiting for the box to warm up, the valve body elements and seals may be damaged.

Don’t change the oil

Many drivers often forget that it is necessary to change not only the engine oil, but also the transmission oil. Over time, its level decreases and its properties deteriorate. As a result, the box parts rub harder and overheat. This accelerates the wear of the machine and brings the need for repair closer.

Experts advise changing the oil periodically, even if the manufacturer does not insist on it. It needs to be updated every 60 thousand kilometers. And if the car has traveled more than 100 thousand km, then the interval should be reduced to 30-50 thousand km.

Ignore changes in the operation of the “machine”

Modern devices are complex and quite reliable mechanisms. However, over time they also begin to act up. Problems usually manifest as slow action, uncharacteristic sounds or twitching. The appearance of any such sign is a reason to be wary. It is better to immediately contact a car service center to identify the cause of suspicious behavior. Then it is more likely to solve the problem at an early stage and save on repairs.

Always turn on N when stopped

Neutral mode helps save fuel and avoid overheating the box. But if you turn it on at any stop, it can damage the clutches. The fact is that when switching position N to mode D, it causes them to close each time. This accelerates the wear of parts.

This does not mean that you need to completely abandon neutral. Experts advise switching to it during a long stop – for example, before a railway crossing or in a serious traffic jam. But you shouldn’t turn it on for a couple of minutes before a traffic light.

Incorrect parking on a slope

When leaving the car in a parking lot, many drivers switch the transmission to “P” mode, ignoring the parking brake. If the parking lot is located on uneven terrain, then failure to use the handbrake may damage the gearbox. In this case, the entire load of the body falls on the machine shaft lock. Over time it weakens, wears out and begins to slip. As a result, the wires are pulled out, which leads to electrical problems.

Therefore, always use the handbrake when parking on a slope. Moreover, you must first tighten it, and then move the machine to the “P” position.

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