Last year, I bought a VW Passat with a DSG transmission. Before that car, I would always prefer driving cars with manual transmissions. With this car, I realized how simple and comfortable it is to drive an automatic. However, there are several mistakes that I was making that can cause damage to the automatic gearbox, leading to costly repairs or, even worse, a complete replacement (luckily, I never had any problems with any malfunctions).
In this article, we’ll explore the top 5 mistakes people make, and by being aware of these common errors, you can take the necessary steps to avoid them. That way, your car’s automatic gearbox should remain in good condition for many years.
So, let’s dive in and discover what these mistakes are and how to avoid them.
1. Leaving Car in P Without Handbrake
One of the most common mistakes people make that can damage their automatic gearbox is leaving their car in park (P) without engaging the handbrake. This can put excessive pressure on the transmission, thus causing unnecessary wear and tear over time. Furthermore, it will also be harder to shift from P to D or R if you make that mistake.
To avoid this mistake, I highly suggest putting your car into neutral first, then engaging the handbrake, and finally shifting to park before turning off the vehicle. This will help alleviate the pressure on the transmission.
2. Shifting In Drive or Reverse While The Car Is Moving
Another mistake that I see a lot of people make (including me sometimes when I’m in a rush) is shifting gears while the car is still in motion. When you shift from the drive (D) to reverse ® or vice versa while the car is still moving, it puts a lot of stress on the transmission and the clutch and can lead to damage over time.
You should always make sure that the car has come to a complete stop before shifting from D to R or vice versa. However, if you need to shift from D to N, it shouldn’t be a problem for most automatic transmissions as it doesn’t apply any additional pressure to the gearbox. However, I still highly recommend that you always come to a complete stop before shifting to any gear.
3. Neglecting Regular Maintenance
Just like for any other car part, regular maintenance is extremely important for automatic gearboxes. Neglecting some things, such as the transmission fluid and filter, can cause significant damage to the gearbox, which often results in costly repairs.
Over time, the oil in the gearbox loses its properties, and it doesn’t lubricate all the parts as it should. This causes the gears to become stiff and shift without any smoothness, leading to wear and tear on the transmission. Therefore, I always suggest following the recommended maintenance schedule for your car’s transmission, especially if you mostly drive inside the city.
4. Speeding Before The Transmission Oil Warms Up
Warming your car up before driving it aggressively or at high speed is extremely important, especially during colder days. When the transmission oil is cold, it is too thick to lubricate the car parts effectively, which can lead to unnecessary wear and tear on the gearbox.
I recommend that you slowly drive your car until it comes to operating temperature before driving it aggressively or at high speeds. It usually only takes a couple of minutes. This allows the transmission oil to warm up and become more fluid so that it can lubricate the gearbox properly.
And lastly, aggressive driving while your car is still cold, may also cause damage to other car parts, especially the engine, so avoid making this mistake at all costs.
5. Overloading The Vehicle
Overloading cars with unnecessary weight, besides damaging suspension, tires, brakes, and other car parts may also put significant stress on the clutch and gearbox, causing them to wear and tear much quicker than they should (especially the clutch). I recommend that you always stay below the manufacturer’s recommended maximum load and avoid carrying any unnecessary items in your car.
Avoiding these five common mistakes can help ensure that your car’s automatic gearbox remains in good condition and continues to function efficiently.
As you can see, these mistakes are simple to fix, and it’s easy to implement these precautions in your daily routine, even without any practice. Remember, precaution is always better than cure. So, stop making these mistakes and avoid paying for expensive repairs on your vehicle.
This content was written by “Petar Dzaja” at CarDetailingPlanet.com
Also Read: 2023 Car Maintenance: What You Need to Know