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how transmissions react to cold weather

Winter Cold and Your Transmission: What Should You Know?

It’s that time of year again when you need to winterize your vehicle. But what exactly does that mean for your automatic transmission?

How Transmissions React to Cold Weather

One thing you don’t have to worry about is your transmission fluid freezing, unless water has managed to get in it, then you’ve got trouble.

But the fluid will just thicken in cold temperatures—in other words, its viscosity increases—which means that it doesn’t circulate as quickly as normal. This can make shifting sluggish and may even cause gears to slip.

Driving your vehicle under these conditions isn’t good for the transmission and can even result in damage.

Another problem is that colder temperatures cause components, particularly rubber, to contract, and that affects your belt and seals.

This can also cause gears not to shift properly. At the least, this makes for a rough ride; at worst, it, too, may mean damage.

Gaskets and seals can also harden and crack under frigid temperatures, which can cause fluid to leak out or allow moisture into the transmission. In both cases, serious (and costly!) damage to your transmission is a likely outcome.

Here’s What You Can Do

There are a number of steps you can take to prevent cold weather from affecting your automatic transmission. And they’re all simple and inexpensive!

  • Check your transmission fluid, making sure it’s full and clean (good advice for any time of the year!)
  • Park your car in a garage, if possible, especially if temperatures drop down to 0°(F). Even though the fluid won’t freeze, it will become so thick at extreme temperatures that it won’t run through your system.
  • Keep your fluid warm with an engine or transmission heater, particularly if you live in colder, northern climates.
  • Idle your car briefly before driving (a minute or less) to get the fluid moving; long idles are not necessary and may even be counter-productive.
  • Avoid sudden accelerations or abrupt stops, both of which can put additional stress on a cold transmission.

Like every component in your car, protecting the transmission in extreme weather is easy and just makes good sense. High-quality parts and accessories will help ensure against problems. You can turn to Sun Transmissions for the best automotive products around.

We specialize in automatic transmissions and power steering systems and can ship your order to you anywhere in the U.S., whether you need a power steering gear seal kit,universal transmission cooler, an automatic transmission clutch or some other parts. Reach out to our transmission parts store today and let us help you get your vehicles in good winter shape.


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