Preventing Transmission Failures: Maintenance Tips For Heavy-Duty Trucks

October 4, 2023
Truck maintenance in repair shop

The transmission is in charge of sending power from the engine to the wheels. A failing transmission can require expensive repairs, protracted downtime, and even safety risks. Regular maintenance is necessary to guarantee the transmission's durability and optimum performance. 

In this post, we'll go over some important maintenance advice that can shield your heavy-duty truck against transmission breakdowns.

Adhere to the Manufacturer's Recommendations

The manufacturer's maintenance plan should be followed in order to properly maintain the transmission. It specifies suggested service intervals for fluid adjustments, filter swaps, checks, and other maintenance procedures. Following the timetable is essential because it takes into consideration the unique needs of the transmission type and enables the early detection of possible problems.

Check Fluid Levels and Quality

Regularly checking the quality and level of the transmission fluid is crucial for efficient operation. Low fluid levels can result in insufficient lubrication, more friction, and heat, which can damage and prematurely wear out transmission parts. 

Make sure the fluid level is within the range advised by the manufacturer, and keep an eye out for any indications of pollution, discoloration, or a burned smell. If the fluid appears to be contaminated or unclean, it might be necessary to replace the old fluid with a new one.

Change Transmission Fluid and Filters

It is crucial for ensuring optimum performance to change the transmission fluid and filters at the specified intervals. The fluid can degrade, lose its ability to lubricate, and develop contamination from dirt and metal flakes over time. 

Fluid changes on a regular basis help get rid of these impurities and provide appropriate lubrication. Additionally, changing the transmission filter prevents foreign objects from getting into the transmission and harming its internal parts.

Examine the Seals and Gaskets

Defective seals and gaskets can result in fluid leaks, which can cause insufficient lubrication and transmission overheating. Regularly look for leaks by checking the seals and gaskets for pools of fluid beneath the truck or obvious moisture around the transmission parts. To prevent additional harm to the transmission, replace any broken gaskets or seals as soon as leaks are discovered.

Maintain Proper Fluid Cooling

Heavy-duty trucks often work in strenuous settings that produce intense heat. It's essential to have enough transmission fluid cooling to avoid overheating and eventual damage. Verify that the transmission cooler is operating correctly and is not clogged with dirt or debris. Clean the cooler fins often to ensure effective heat dissipation. 

Consider adding extra cooling systems, such as auxiliary fans or external transmission coolers, to improve cooling capacity while running in challenging situations.

Inspect Transmission Mounts 

Transmission mounts attach the transmission to the chassis, ensuring stability and reducing vibrations. Inspect and adjust the transmission mounts. Check the mounts often for wear, damage, or cracks. 

Excessive vibrations or strange sounds during operation can be a sign of damaged or worn mounts. To maintain appropriate alignment and lessen stress on the transmission, you should consider replacing or adjusting the mounts as required.

Use Smooth Shifting Techniques

Driving habits can have a big influence on how long a transmission lasts. Encourage drivers to use smooth gear changes rather than sudden shifts or excessive clutch sliding. Harsh shifting can put the transmission under undue stress, accelerating wear and raising the possibility of failure. Encourage thorough driver instruction and stress the need for controlled and smooth shifting.

Watch for Transmission Warning indications

Be aware of any warning indications that can point to a transmission problem. Strange sounds like grinding or clunking can indicate internal issues. Investigate any abnormal shifting patterns, sliding gears, or delayed engagement right away as well. Ignoring these red flags can make the issue worse and perhaps result in transmission failure.

Regular Visual Inspections 

Regular visual checks of the transmission and its parts can aid in spotting early indications of wear or damage. Check for any indications of leaks, rust, or loose bolts in the transmission housing, linkage, and connections. Additionally, check for excessive wear or play in the driveline and universal joints, since these parts can affect the transmission's efficiency.

Seek Professional Maintenance and Repairs

It's essential to enlist the assistance of trained specialists when it comes to transmission maintenance and repairs. Make regular maintenance appointments with trustworthy mechanics who are knowledgeable about heavy-duty truck transmissions. They are able to conduct in-depth examinations, spot possible problems, and provide the required changes or fixes.

Consider Transmission Upgrades

Consider changing the transmission to a type that can better manage the demands of heavy-duty applications, depending on the particular needs of the truck. Improved gear ratios, more torque, and better heat dissipation are a few characteristics that upgraded transmissions can provide. 

Determining if an update is required and advantageous for your particular truck and use can be done by speaking with transmission experts or truck manufacturers.

Maintain the Entire Drivetrain Correctly

A heavy-duty truck's drivetrain system includes more parts than simply the transmission. For the transmission to work at its best, the clutch, driveshafts, differentials, and axles must all be properly maintained. Neglecting maintenance on other drivetrain parts can put the transmission under more strain and cause breakdowns or premature wear.

Final Thoughts 

Routine maintenance, thorough inspections, and adherence to manufacturer recommendations can prevent heavy-duty truck transmission failures. Truck owners can reduce the likelihood of transmission problems, increase the transmission's lifetime, and maintain dependable operation according to these maintenance recommendations. 

In the long run, investing in good maintenance and taking care of any possible problems right away will save time and money and avoid the pricey downtime brought on by transmission breakdowns.

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