How to protect your car from transmission damage

How to protect your car from transmission damage

Cold temperatures and snow accumulation can create treacherous driving conditions during the winter months. If you have ever driven in bad winter weather, you have undoubtedly wondered about what you would do if your vehicle were to get stuck.

What you may not have considered is the damage to your car’s transmission that is caused by attempting to get unstuck in slick conditions. 

Avoiding damage to your differential

The incredible wear on your vehicle when you have gotten stuck in snow or on ice can lead to some very expensive repairs. If one tire is spinning while the other is trying to gain traction, it may be ruining your differential. 

The differential housing can be seen underneath your car, located on the axle between both wheels – it's that pumpkin-looking large bulge. The lubrication that happens inside this unit when both wheels are turning does not function properly when only one of the wheels spins and the other is stationary. 

In this case, the differential pin-on gears are spinning twice as fast and, as you can imagine, the gears, axle and even the entire housing could be damaged if they aren't getting lubricated. 

One of the stressed pieces of metal inside could actually break off and puncture through, resulting in the need to replace the entire unit. The transmission fluid pump or convertor could also overheat, which would lead to a major overhaul of the transmission or replacement.

Preventing transmission damage

Another scenario people encounter when getting held up in drifts of snow is to attempt to rock the vehicle out. This is also damaging to the internal parts of the transmission and drive train. 

As the driver may slam the car into drive or reverse, depending on the rocking motion, the wheels may still be in motion and the quick jarring effect can cause the transmission to overheat, leading again to catastrophic failure. 

For these reasons, it is recommended to call for assistance in these situations. No matter what the tow bill would be, having your vehicle safely removed from an impassable condition is less expensive than a major transmission overhaul or replacement

It goes without saying that you should only drive in treacherous conditions if absolutely necessary and if you have experience. Always travel with a charged cell phone, blankets, water, food and your local tow company phone number.

About this Angie's List Expert: JoAnn Shilling is the office manager for Joe Shilling, Inc., which has been proudly providing automotive repair services in the Wilmington, Del., area for more than 30 years. The company, which hires only ASE-certified technicians, is Delaware emission certified, a NAPA Auto Care Center, a AAA approved repair facility and affiliated with the Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association.

As of March 4, 2014, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.


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