The mechanic thanks you: how to blow up the automatic transmission of the car in 5 steps

Increasingly present in zero kilometer cars sold in Brazil, the automatic transmission brings indisputable advantages.

The convenience of having technology shift gears for you is one of the major benefits of this type of drivetrain.

However, it never hurts to remember that even the automatic gearbox requires care in its operation and also in its preventive maintenance.

According to experts consulted by UOL Carrosmisuse and lack of care will, over time, damage the components of this drivetrain, which is usually not cheap to repair.

See five examples of how to blow up your vehicle’s automatic transmission and then spend a fortune on the mechanic.

1 – Select ‘P’ or ‘R’ with the car moving

Image: Shutterstock

When manoeuvring, in a hurry, it is normal for the driver to select the “R” (reverse) option. with the vehicle still in motion forward. Or enter “P” (Park), which locks the drive wheels, before the car comes to a complete stop.

While this error occurs at low speeds, says SAE Brasil engineer and consultant Cláudio Castro, over time it will damage automatic transmission components, such as gears.

The risk is higher on older exchanges where positions are triggered mechanically. Newer models are equipped with an electronic control that prevents reversing or parking while the vehicle is still in motion.”, Claudio Castro, of SAE Brazil

2 – Try to make the engine “take a hit”.

Push Car - Getty Images - Getty Images
Image: Getty Images

According to the former president of the AEA (Brazilian Association of Automotive Engineering) Edson Orikassa, it would theoretically be possible to make an automatic car “make the step”.

However, the mechanical engineer and technical director of SAVE Engines do Brasil points out that the tactic is very unlikely to succeed.

He points out that the fuel injection system also requires electricity to operate.

In addition, the risk of blowing up the transmission is very high and the attempt is not worth it.

“Although you can put the transmission in ‘N’ to move the vehicle and then select the ‘D’ position, I don’t recommend trying that,” warns Orikassa.

  • According to engineer Erwin Franieck, a member of SAE Brasil, one of the risks in trying to make the engine “jump” is the timing belt breaking
  • Responsible for synchronizing the opening and closing of the valves, this belt may already be worn out.
  • The risk of breakage increases if the “pull” is too strong

When the belt breaks, the valves stop while the pistons are still moving. Therefore, the risk of one or more of them being hit by the piston and bending is high, all the more so if we consider the high compression ratio of current engines” Erwin Franieck, of SAE Brazil

According to Frankieck, the the possibility of damage increases if the engine is dieselwhich has an even higher compression ratio

There is also the risk of damage other parts, such as pistons and connecting rods, which would require an engine overhaul. These warnings apply to both manual and automatic cars.

“If the battery is dead, it’s recommended that you ‘pacify’ it by plugging it into another charger or portable fast charger. If the battery won’t hold a charge, then you’ll need to replace it with a new one,” advises Orikassa.

3 – Ignore the transmission oil change

The car owner reads the engine oil specifications on the package - Photo: Shutterstock - Photo: Shutterstock
Image: Photo: Shutterstock

  • Many believe that automatic transmissions are maintenance-free, and this belief can generate heavy losses down the road.
  • The automatic transmission has gears and other parts that need to be well lubricated
  • The specifications and deadlines for changing the fluid are indicated in the vehicle manual and must be followed.
  • The service can also be anticipated, depending on the conditions of use of the car.
  • It is worth noting that some models do not have an oil change recommendation, which supposedly lasts for the entire service life of the vehicle.
  • However, that doesn’t mean that the automatic transmission is free from lubrication problems.

There may be leaks, which reduce the lubricant level, increase friction between internal parts and increase the temperature, which is a big bad when it comes to automatic cars.” Edson Orikassa, engineer

The specialist points out that, in addition to reducing the level, gearbox oil can receive some kind of contamination from external agentswhich reduces its efficiency.

“It’s worth checking the lubricant during the overhauls. If it looks dark, this can indicate that it no longer has the necessary lubricating characteristics.”

Oil problems have common symptoms, such as bumping when shifting gears. The transmission can also “slip”, i.e. when accelerating the car takes a few moments to drive the wheels.

4 – “Hold” the car on the bump with the accelerator

Ladeira - Eduardo Anizelli/Folhapress - Eduardo Anizelli/Folhapress
Image: Eduardo Anizelli/Folhapress
  • A common mistake in manual transmission cars is to keep the vehicle stationary on a slope by dosing the clutch and accelerator pedals.
  • The practice causes the clutch to explode and if repeated will cause the item to be replaced prematurely.
  • Automatic cars are also able to stand still on the bump without the driver having to apply the brakes.
  • Depending on the slope, the idle is enough to “hold” the car
  • In other cases, just exerting a slight pressure on the accelerator pedal is enough for this to happen.
  • Even though conventional automatic vehicles use a torque converter, which doesn’t experience mechanical wear like a clutch, keeping them stationary in the manner described above is a “shaving”

Using idle or throttle to “hold” the car heats up the transmission oil and increases fuel consumption unnecessarily” Claudius Castro. from SAE Brazil

The expert recommends keeping your foot on the brake whenever the car is stationary, for example at traffic lights, regardless of the slope of the road.

“This way the torque converter is decoupled and the engine is free, without wasting fuel.”

5 – Put the gearbox in neutral when stopping at traffic lights

Peugeot 3008 automatic gearbox - Disclosure - Disclosure

Automatic gearboxes can be operated by a lever that slides along a rail or carry “joystick” style shifters.

Image: Disclosure

  • Drivers accustomed to manual vehicles have a habit of shifting into neutral when stopped at traffic lights or in traffic jams.
  • The practice is correct, as in this way the driver stops holding down the clutch pedal when parked, preserving the component
  • However, in automatic cars, the recommendation is different: the correct thing is to keep the gear lever in position “D” and your foot on the brake pedal.

“Keep it in position “D” with your foot on the brake, because in this way the hydraulic system is kept under pressure and the components lubricated. The lubrication of many automatic transmissions depends on the respective connection with the wheels”, teaches Claudio Castro.

Camilo Adas, adviser of SAE Brasil, adds that the “N” (neutral) function was created for maintenance situations, when it is necessary to tow the vehicle or move it with the engine off, freeing the drive wheels

Some cars have technology that automatically decouples the transmission, even when the vehicle is in motion, to save fuel.

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