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Waht kills transmissions?

Discussion in 'Chevy Trucks' started by mkwl, Jan 22, 2008.

  1. mkwl

    mkwl 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,362

    Every now and again someone'll post on here that their trans is "toast" or "dead", what exactly kills trannys (auto's)? What causes trans to lose reverse (or forward)? Was wondering...

  2. bribrius

    bribrius PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,609

    shifting from drive to reverse and vice versa before coming to a complete stop and letting the motor idle down. over heating.
  3. B&B

    B&B PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,777

    1# killer...the driver.:nod:

    Occasionally it's due to a poorly designed trans that can't do the job....
  4. Flipper

    Flipper PlowSite.com Addict
    from CT
    Messages: 1,180


    Keep it cool and they will last forever.
  5. tom_mccauley

    tom_mccauley Senior Member
    Messages: 465

    The object between the stering wheel and the seat back!!!:gunsfiring::D

    actually, heat causes the fluid to break down allowing the bands to become burnt/glazed same with the friction rings the get burnt/glazed and they lose the ability to grab one another.
  6. abbert55

    abbert55 Senior Member
    Messages: 170

    The biggest factor is heat buildup. If you can, install a trans cooler in the line coming from the trans going to the radiator. This will rid excess heat and provide longevity. A big factor in heat buildup is how the unit is driven. When plowing, the torque converter is not locked up causing slippage and heat. Also when pushing wet heavy snow (see pic in signature) (this can weigh several tons) don't cowboy the truck.... that is burying your foot in the gas (same as spuring your horse). Use common sense and you should have no problems. I've been plowing with automatics for 30+ years and have not smoked one yet.
  7. ChevKid03

    ChevKid03 Senior Member
    Messages: 505

    I have the same truck as you (Silverado) but extended cab. I just changed my fluid and filter yesterday. Worth the $50 and an hour of my time. Just don't overfill. Not hard to do either. Make sure you use DEX III fluid.
  8. fatboy

    fatboy Senior Member
    Messages: 222

    Most of the time when it comes to plowing its HEAT or abuse, once your trans get overheated the lubricity of the trans fluid go's away, which results in hard part failure or friction plates burning up, regular transmission service and good fluid go's a long way. I have had great results with Amsoil ATF, it has a much higher heat break down point.
    Oh yea and remember your driving a truck and not a 966 CAT loader...:dizzy: and of course a good cooler is a must.
    Here's a little tip...when stopped for a pee break or to get a coffee or in some case's put back what you just backed over......leave you truck in neutral and not park (make sure the plow is down and it won't roll away) this keeps the fluid moving and cooling, where as in park not as much and will help too cool faster.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2008

    RBRONKEMA GHTFD 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,592

    Tranny slamming it while plowing because your in a hurry. Take your time, and come to a complete stop. If you spin your tires stop before shifting.
  10. Detroitdan

    Detroitdan PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,937

    Plowing puts a load on the tranny, this creates more heat. Your stock system for removing heat is compromised by one of two things. Either you are blocking the airflow with the plow while driving, or you are going slow while plowing and the airflow is insufficient.
    First thing you need is a temp gauge so you can see what you are doing to the transmission. You will be amazed at how fast the temps climb once you drop the plow. On my old trucks I always added a gauge, a big auxiliary cooler and an electric fan right on the cooler. About a hundred bucks and NEVER hurt a tranny. When plowing I would watch the gauge and in 5-10 minutes the temp was high enough that I had to flip the fan on. Eventually I got an automatic sender for the fan switch, but you get the idea.

    It's real simple. Change the fluid and filter at least every year, and manage your fluid temp.

    You can also keep temps down by using 4 low whenever possible. Multiplies the torque and the tranny doens't work near as hard or get as hot. Just takes a little patience, and isn't appropriate for every job.
  11. streetfrog

    streetfrog Senior Member
    Messages: 337

    And the other number 1 cause is lack of service. Especially being a plow truck you should have a FULL service every year. That means not only a filter change but ALSO a full fluid flush. Yes it's a bit more expensive to have both services done( filter change and fluid flush) But think about the cost if not done. reg $1700 + . That and a nice HD trans cooler.
  12. 2dogs2

    2dogs2 Member
    Messages: 81

    I bought a Liquivac several years ago, and suck out 4-5 qts of trans fluid twice a year, and put fresh in. Since I can't do power flushes to get all the fluid out of the torque converter, this at least keeps 1/2 of the fluid new.
  13. BREAULT69

    BREAULT69 Member
    Messages: 97

    #1 killer is heat. One trans. heat up severely breaks the fluid down. If your eng. gets hot (your trans. is getting hot too) change the trans. fluid as soon as possible, flush machine is the best as it gets the converter too. Shift kits can shorten the time the friction material is slipping during a shift (soft shifts that Joe average truck buyer likes), this will extend trans. life. Using synthetic fluids can help due to their ability to take higher temp. 4x4 low is a big trans. life extender when operating at low speeds under load. The constant forward to reverse shifting during snow plowing is hardest on the trans. output shaft to transfer case connection and driveshaft slip yoke splines. Some modern transmissions just have weaknesses in their design. Many have updates / kits that address these problems and can prevent total trans. failures for a reasonable cost. Diesel engines that produce 500 ft. lbs. torque can destroy anything short of Allison automatics and dialed up diesels can even blow Allisons up.
  14. RMHSR

    RMHSR Member
    Messages: 49

    I thought I would give some input in reference to the flush machines. I talked to the transmission guy that I use and asked him about the flush machines and he said the problem he has with them is that you add a chemical to the transmission prior to the flush. This chemical loosens the build up of junk from the transmission. When the junk is undisturbed it finds a build up point either in voids or in the pan itself. Typically this junk isn't hurting anything until you disturb it then you have just reentered it into the interior components again. At least by dropping the pan you asure that a new clean filter is being replaced and then you can scrape any junk from the pan. Somehow he still circulates fresh fluid through the trans cooler but I don't really know how. That is why I pay him, he at least sounds convincing and I don't have to touch it. This is just one mechanic's opinion and I can't offer any scientific proof that either method is better than the other. I think this was just a drawn out way of saying "change your fluid".
  15. mkwl

    mkwl 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,362

    My truck's got a stock trans cooler and temp guage (plow prep/towing packages), what's the highest temp a trans should get to plowing before getting concerned?

    UNISCAPE Member
    Messages: 48

    Heat Heat Heat
  17. B&B

    B&B PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 12,777

    The stock aux coolers on the 6.0/4L85E's are pretty good...but do what you can to keep it 200* or less (less is better of course).

    If it gets much over 200*-210* ease up on it for a bit. By doing so, it will thank you in the long run by providing a longer service life.
  18. mkwl

    mkwl 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,362

    Yeah, I figured- I was able to keep the temp on my truck below 160* the last few storms, hopefully that's a reasonable temp (I don't want to kill my tranny!).

    Also sent you an email response, thanks.
  19. mike33087

    mike33087 Senior Member
    Messages: 555

    basically the main killer besides heat is OMG PLOWING!
  20. MickiRig1

    MickiRig1 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,617

    Popping a cooling line and losing pressure will kill some transmissions. Like my C-6 in the F-250.