A leaky transmission could be an early indicator of serious problems and can't be ignored. The fluid cools and lubricates the internal parts. In automatic transmissions, the fluid also transfers power and generates pressure needed to operate internal mechanisms. When fluid levels drop, the unit's capacity to operate and cool the transmission is degraded. Without proper lubrication, parts begin to grind against each other and bits of debris can damage the unit's inner workings.
Every 20 degree rise in operating temperature above 175 degrees cuts the life of the fluid by 50%! The Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association reports that 90% of ALL transmission failures are caused by overheating.
Overheating caused by low fluid levels can do serious damage that could eventually require major repairs. Normal operating temperature for an automatic transmission is 175 degrees Fahrenheit. When the temperature rises above 175 degrees the fluid oxidizes, turning a brown color, and may smell like burned toast. When heat degrades the fluid's lubricating ability, varnish starts to accumulate on internal parts, like as the valve body, and can seriously reduce performance. When the temperature exceeds 250 degrees, rubber seals can start to harden, leading to leaks and loss of pressure.
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