How Long Does an Automatic Transmission Last And Why?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on August 3rd, 2022

Replacing a gearbox, whether automatic or manual, is one of the most expensive repairs a car owner can do. The transmission transmits power from the engine to the wheels, allowing the vehicle to drive in the desired direction.

By employing a more complicated architecture, automatic gearboxes simplify driving itself. Intricate circuitry and complex electrical operations are used in automatic gearboxes. This allows for more faults and failure spots than the more straightforward manual transmission, yet simplicity might be a lifesaver in today’s hectic world.

Detail on a automatic gear shifter in a new car

How Long Is the Life of an Automatic Transmission?

Time and mileage vary depending on the automobile driver and how they use or abuse the transmission. Nonetheless, standard automatic gearboxes have a lifespan of 150,00 to 200,000 miles or around 7 years. There are cases at both ends of the spectrum: exceptional lifespan and early failure.

Many automobile owners accidentally neglect the condition of their transmission until it is too late.

Do manual transmissions have a longer lifespan?

Because of its sophisticated construction, an automatic gearbox has more potential failure spots than a manual transmission, which does not have to worry about elaborate hydraulic circuits or complicated electronically controlled solenoids. In addition, there is only a clutch pedal, a few gears, and a gear stick between the seats.

In principle, a manual transmission will outlast an automated transmission. However, you will need to regularly repair the clutch (the device that separates the engine from the gearbox while changing gears). A new clutch might be costly, depending on the car.

How long can rebuilt transmissions be expected to last?

When done correctly, rebuilding a transmission should give results that restore the transmission to a “like new” condition. All worn parts are replaced, seals and soft parts are reinstated, and the same body is reinstalled in the same vehicle from which it was removed. Regarding comebacks, a competent rebuild project should not incur additional expenditures or labor for your shop.

Your warranty should be structured to represent your expert and rebuilders’ skill level and efficiency. The length of that guarantee varies per shop and is determined by the amount of work, effort, and care put into your service.

The 30,000 to the 40,000-mile milestone is an excellent starting point for rebuilt transmission success.

A refurbished unit should, at the absolute least, last this long. However, suppose a rebuilt unit is given greater attention and care regarding tiny, regular maintenance work. In that case, this ‘like new’ unit might theoretically live as long as any new unit – around 150,000 to 200,000 miles on average.

When Is it Time to Replace My Transmission?

So, how long does it take for transmission to complete? The reality is that transmission lifetime varies from instance to situation. There is no specific mileage or time limit during which transmission is “known” to fail.

On the other hand, most automatic gearboxes should last between 100,000 and 200,000 kilometers. (That may appear to be a lot. However, it is crucial to realize that if you only drive 15,000 miles each year, your transmission may only survive around seven years!) Manual transmissions should theoretically last longer, although this is not always the case.

Repair vs. Replacement

Minor problems, such as leaks, are worth paying to fix. For example, if most of the gearbox is in excellent shape but seals or bearings need to be changed, it may be more cost-effective to have a technician repair the problem.

A transmission with more significant problems, such as prolonged heat exposure or low fluid levels, may be more expensive. Likewise, if a transmission shimmy or shakes, smells burned, or won’t shift properly, there might be more damage than is worth repairing.

A replacement may be more cost-effective if you regularly send your car in for gearbox repairs. You can have your present model rebuilt or completely replaced.

You can save money and effort in the long term by acquiring a replacement rather than repeatedly diagnosing and repairing faulty parts.

The last thing you want to do is put off your transmission until it breaks. Your transmission may completely lock up, causing you to lose control of your vehicle and crash.

What causes my transmission failure?

The two most important factors influencing transmission longevity are your driving habits and how well you adhere to specified maintenance procedures.

Your driving habits impact every component of your car. For example, rapid acceleration and slamming on the brakes wear down your drivetrain faster. Excessive mileage on your car is also known to shorten the life of your gearbox. Driving is also dangerous before your engine and transmission have warmed up.

The manufacturer of your car will also provide you with advice on gearbox maintenance. This is done for a reason. Failure to adhere to these instructions may cause premature mortality of your transmission. It is also critical to do research. For example, certain automobile manufacturers are noted for producing more robust gearboxes. This can also impact the longevity of your transmission.

Here are five tips for getting the most out of your automatic transmission:

1. Maintain Your Transmission regularly

Change the oil and filter in your transmission on your own if you have automotive repair skills or by calling a professional. Refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for exact service intervals, just as you would for an oil change.

For example, oil and filters should be changed every 20,000 to 30,000 miles or 18 months. In addition, automatic transmissions in newer vehicles should be flushed of dirt and trash every 40,000 to 50,000 miles or every two years.

2. Check Your Transmission Fluid Regularly

Transmission fluid is intended to remove heat from the transmission’s internal components and transport it away from moving parts. Low fluid levels can overheat the transmission, causing permanent damage. Depending on how frequently you drive, the automatic gearbox should be tested with the engine running every 2 to 4 weeks.

3. Make use of synthetic transmission fluid.

Use the type of transmission fluid suggested by your owner’s handbook before swapping. Heat degrades the organic molecules in conventional automatic transmission fluid, making it less efficient. Synthetic fluid is more heat resistant and will assist your aged automatic gearbox. It’s beneficial for people who often travel with great goods, in congested areas, or across mountains.

4. Purchase a Transmission Cooler

Heat is the transmission’s worst enemy. Damage to seals, metal surfaces, and electronic devices accumulates over time due to prolonged heat exposure. When the temperature in the transmission exceeds 200 degrees Fahrenheit, each 20-degree notch reduces the service life by half. A transmission cooler may drastically reduce operating temperature and more than double the time to wear out.

5. Develop Your Driving Skills

Smart driving tactics might help your automatic gearbox last longer. Keep the following three practices in mind:

  • Avoid driving aggressively. Aggressive driving from a halt, as well as constant acceleration and deceleration, can generate heat. Driving more relaxedly can reduce stress on both the gearbox and yourself.
  • Do not drive until your engine and transmission have warmed up. Allow the automobile to idle until the engine’s RPM drops before shifting into gear in chilly weather. When the transmission fluid is cold, it thickens and does not transfer as effectively from the bottom to the top. Allow it to warm up before using it to prevent friction damage.
  • While the car is moving, do not change gears. Shifting between reverse and drive is still required with automatic gearboxes. Though it may be tempting to pull out of a parking place or make a rapid 3-point turn, avoid damaging the internal gears by allowing the automobile to come to a complete stop before changing.

Transmissions are built to handle a specific amount of heat. Following deliberate driving techniques might help your gearbox last longer. Find a trained technician to diagnose any suspected automatic gearbox problems, preferably one familiar with your automobile model’s unique demands. The transmission mechanic can save you time and money in the long run.


Editorial Staff

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