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Automatic Car Transmissions 101

It is interesting to note that most automatic car's manuals say that you do not have to change the transmission fluid regularly. This is not true though since a lot of car owners are going to the mechanic to have their burned out automatic transmissions fixed. Make it a point that you change your transmission fluid and your car once you hit 30,000 miles to be sure that your car is well maintained. This article will help you to discover some things about your automatic car transmission.

Automatic transmissions generate so much heat caused by friction. These are the following: friction of the fluid churning inside the torque converter, friction created when the clutch plates engage, and the normal friction created by gears and bearings carrying their loads. This friction produces heat that can cause damage to your car's transmission. Overheating is the number one cause of car breakdowns.

Make sure that you are using the correct type of automatic transmission fluid. Using the wrong fluid will cause damage to your transmission as well. The car's dipstick or the car manual will be able to provide you with this information. The type that you need is both indicated there for your reference. Using the wrong type of fluid can affect the way the transmission shifts and feels.

There will be a huge difference when you change the transmission fluid of automatic cars. For one, you will have no drain plug. You have to remove the pan to drain the fluid. Make use of a wide catch pan to get all the fluid that will be dribbling out in all directions. The torque converter contains almost a third of the transmission fluid in automatic cars. This part cannot be drained so this means you are only changing one third of the fluid. It is advisable that you still change your transmission fluid though even if it is only one third.

It is imperative that you clean the pan you removed before you place it back. Make sure that you have the new filter positioned properly as well. It is imperative that you do not overfill your transmission too. This is why you have the dipstick. Afterwards, drive the car around the block to make sure that you can check the fluid level. The fluid level should be checked when the transmission fluid is hot.


Car Maintenance Tips for Long Trips

Nothing puts a damper on a road trip like an auto breakdown. While accidents and other unforeseen events can create delays, it is possible to minimize the chances of breaking down by practicing some basic car maintenance before leaving on your trip. You should also continue that maintenance while on your trip. Some of this can be done yourself, while other tasks may require a trained mechanic.

One of the first steps in preparing your car for a long trip is to begin with a thorough inspection of the tires. Check the tread all the way around each tire to make sure the wear is even. There should be plenty of tread left which allows for maximum control of the vehicle on slippery roads while breaking. If the tires are not worn evenly, it may be a good idea to replace them before hitting the road. Make sure that your front end is aligned and the new tires are balanced at the same time.

It is also important to make sure that the car has fresh fluids and filters of all types. This means you should have the oil filter changed and fresh oil placed into the engine. For cars that have high mileage, make sure to use a motor oil that is especially formulated for engines that have seen a lot of action.

Also make it a point to check the transmission fluid as well. Low levels could indicate a leak that should be addressed before taking the automobile far from home. In any event, if it has been some time since the fluid was changed, have it done. Knowing that the car is unlikely to run low on fluid can provide a peace of mind, as well as help the transmission to perform at optimum levels during the trip.

Do not forget the other fluids in the vehicle. Brake and power steering fluids should be checked and changed if necessary. The radiator should also be checked to make sure there is plenty of fluid and that the balance between water and coolant is within acceptable limits.

One fluid many drivers overlook when getting ready for a road trip is the windshield washer fluid. Make sure the reservoir is full and that the fluid moves through the jets with no problem. The ability to keep the windshield clean while driving is extremely important to your safety.

Checking all of your hoses is also very important. A failed hose can leave you stranded in parts unknown and ruin your trip. Make sure the body of each hose is still strong, without any leaks. You should also check that the hoses are securely connected to the correct engine components. If any hose do not seem quite right, it is best to have it replaced. This can help prevent any problems that may occur.

Continue the preparation by checking various other components, such as taillights, lamps, signal lights, and various fuses. Include an inspection of the fan belt and any other belts that may be present in the engine. The idea is to make sure every system on the car is working properly before you pull out of the driveway.

Once on the road, you still need to perform regular maintenance each day. Whenever you stop for gasoline, make it a point to check oil and transmission fluid levels. You can also take a quick look at the levels of washer fluid, brake fluid, and power steering fluid. Do not check the fluid level in the radiator until the car engine has cooled down. A good time to check these fluid levels is first thing each morning before you get back on the road.

In order to help you stay on track with your on-the-road maintenance, invest in a simple car tool kit. Many auto supply stores offer these kits; you can also purchase one online with relative ease. The kits include necessities such as replacement lamps, heat resistant tape to deal with a leaky hose, extra fuses, and even a spare fan belt for the radiator. Basic tools such as screwdrivers and wrenches are often included. Most of these kits fit neatly into a corner of the trunk of the car, making them easily accessible should you need them.

It also never hurts to take along a few extras components, just in case they are needed. Having a container with a mixture of water and coolant could come in handy if the engine overheats on a lonely stretch of road. An extra can of oil and a small container of transmission fluid should be stored in the trunk as well. By preparing the car properly and checking all systems at least every other day during the trip, you have an excellent chance of making your complete trip without any serious problems with your vehicle.


How to Change Your Brake Fluid

Has it been a while since you last changed your cars brake fluid? If so, you may want to give your car some attention on that. To help keep your car running smoothly, and out of the shop you will want to make sure you give your car the attention and maintenance it needs. Changing your cars brake fluid is a very important part in how your vehicle runs. Brake fluid over time can get dirty and start to thicken. Once it starts to reach that level it is long over due for a change. Not sure how to change your cars brake fluid? Check out the step by step instructions below to learn how you can change it yourself.

Supplies needed:

* Brake fluid based on your vehicle

* A brake bleeding kit (vacuum)

* Drip pan

* A clean rag

Not sure what kind of brake fluid you need? Check your owner's manual or ask a associate at an automotive store.

Step by step instructions for changing your vehicles brake fluid:

1. Make sure you are in an area with some room and that your vehicle is shut off.

2. Once you have a place to work you will want to pop your car's hood.

3. You will want to now locate your car's brake master cylinder. Not sure where this is? Look for something that is on the driver's side of the car, next to the engine. Think of where your pedal would be located.

4. Now that you've located your B.M.C. you will want to search for the cap. Loosen the cap to take it off and check out the fluids color. You never want to have a dark or thick color fluid. Instead, your fluid should look similar to a light, very pale brownish color.

5. If your fluid color is dark you will definitely want to consider changing your brake fluid.

6. Take out your vacuum pump and suction out all the old fluid out of the master cylinder.

7. Now put the canister on the pump, (this becomes the reservoir) and drain the master cylinder.

8. When you place the tube into the master cylinder to suck out the fluids, be sure to make sure the hose is all the way down to the bottom. If you don't place it in far enough you may not get all of the old oil.

9. Once your canister pump is all the way full, get your clean rag and put it around the tip of the hose to avoid having it leak over your vehicle.

10. Keep suctioning and emptying until all the fluid is out of the brake master cylinder.

11. Once all the fluid is out of the B.M.C. get a clean rag and wipe down the area. This will avoid having dust get in your fluid and any dirt that doesn't belong there.

12. Since all your fluid is out, you will want to get your new brake fluid and pour it to the line that says "full".

13. Once it is full, you will now need to take all the wheels off of your vehicle and get out the vacuum pump again.

14. By each tire there is a bleeder valve. Take off the cap and suction your vacuum pump to it.

15. Take a wrench and loosen the bleeder valve just a little bit

16. Now, pump your vacuum pump until all the old brake fluid comes out. (It may come out dirty at first and have a few bubbles.) Give it around 15-25 pumps.

17. Go back to your master cylinder up from and add some more of the new fluid to it. (It should be lower because you're draining it through the bleeder valves.

18. Repeat these steps for the other three tires.

19. Once you've finished the work up front and all four of your tires, you will now want to test your vehicle. You may notice that your pedal will go all the way down to the floor and the ABS light may come on. If this happens, try to pump your brake about 10-15 times and it will firm up. The ABS light will go off after you turn it off and back on again. If you notice that it doesn't turn off the first time try to unhook your battery so that the computer will reset.

A very important question that many people don't know the answer to, "How often should you change your vehicle's brake fluid?"

Answer: You should change your car's brake fluid every 2 years or every 24,000 miles, which ever one comes first.

Changing your car's brake fluid seems very intimidating at first but it is a very easy way to save money. By changing your own brake fluid you can avoid going to the automotive shops and learn to take good care of your vehicle. Follow these simple steps and you will be on your way to changing your car's brake fluid in no time.


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