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How to extend your transmission’s life

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Your car’s automatic transmission is, quite simply, the component of your car that shifts gears for you, unlike a manual transmission, which requires applying a clutch every time you switch gears.

And while all the parts of your car are important, your automatic transmission is one of THE most important — and expensive — so it behooves you to take care of it. Believe it or not, there are steps you can take to extend the life of your transmission.

1. Check for leaks, advises well-known automotive resource Edmunds. Periodically take a look under your car for leaking fluid. Transmission fluid is reddish brown. If it’s showing up on your driveway or a parking lot, it’s time to take your car to a mechanic immediately. It may be an easy and inexpensive fix now, if the problem is just a leaky gasket, but if you wait, it could cost you up to $2000 for a rebuilt transmission.

2. Check the transmission fluid dipstick. This is really important. Similar to your car’s oil dipstick, it shows how much fluid you have in your transmission. Do this while the engine is running, says Edmunds. If it’s low, refill it and take it to a trusted mechanic. You may have a leak somewhere. If you ignore a leak and all your transmission fluid leaks out, again, you’re looking at a totally rebuilt transmission.

3. Don’t shift while you’re moving. Always come to a complete stop before shifting gears. Additionally, warns Edmunds, don't race the engine in neutral, then drop it into drive, as this can damage your transmission.

4. Change transmission fluid regularly. Most cars recommend every 12-18,000 miles, but always refer to your owner's manual for recommended service intervals to be sure. Because changing transmission fluid is not easy to do, it’s advisable to have your mechanic tackle the task, says Edmunds.

Douglas Automotive : 123 E. Virginia, Crystal Lake, IL 815.356.0440 : 417 W. Main Street, Barrington, IL : 847. 381.0454 : 416 Northwest Highway, Fox River Grove, IL : 847.639.4552 : www.douglasautomotive.com

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