Niagara Gazette

Columns

June 13, 2013

TOM'S CORNER: What's really necessary during an oil change?

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — As a regular maintenance practice (every 35–40K miles) transmission flushing can ensure proper operation and longevity of the transmission. Any more that 35–40K miles is overkill. Some carmakers suggest this service every 100K miles or more. However, I don’t agree with this timeframe because transmission fluid is oil, and oil breaks down over time. In addition, I don’t agree with just flushing the fluid without replacing the transmission filter. Dirt from the filter can flow through the unit and contaminate it again. On transmissions with high mileage that have a history of being neglected (the fluid is dark and smells burnt) I do not recommend a transmission flush. In such case, the transmission has been overheated and internal damage might have occurred. When the transmission is subjected to a complete bath of fresh high-detergency transmission fluid, the transmission will fail internally. So if you have a high mileage vehicle and the quick lube shop has recommended a fluid flush, get a second opinion from a drivetrain expert before proceeding … or pay the consequences. 

Does your vehicle need a transfer case or differential fluid change?

Transfer cases are very quirky units. When the fluid is compromised in any way from overheating or moisture contamination they can malfunction. Some symptoms of a malfunction include chatter, engaging and disengaging rapidly while in gear, and slow to engage from low to high range. I have actually seen TSBs (Technical Service Bulletins) where carmakers consult with petroleum companies to come up with a fix for a transfer case problem by virtue of a fluid reformulation. Also, different carmakers use different fluids for their respective transfer cases. This is an area of service that I would never leave to a quick lube, but rather to a drivetrain specialist or dealership because there is too much room for error. Differentials also vary in the types of fluids they use. Leave fluid maintenance of these units to the experts!

’Til next time … Keep Rollin’.

"America's Car Show" with Tom Torbjornsen airs 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, 9 a.m. Thursday and 11 a.m. Saturday on WBBZ-TV.

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