How Spending Money on Your Gearbox Now Can Help Save More In the Future
How do you feel when you start to think about the cost of servicing your car? Does the prospect of receiving a bill from a mechanic frighten you somewhat? Are you afraid that you won’t be able to keep up with the costs of maintenance?
Some people who might answer “yes” to this question are those that believe that if they skip on something like a routine transmission service, they’ll save money and be better off for it. After all, the transmission seems to be running just fine right now, doesn’t it? Why do we need to worry about it?
If these types of thoughts have ever run through your mind, then you’re in fact potentially doing great harm to your vehicle, and also quite possibly lining yourself up for some pretty expensive repair bills. In today’s blog, we’re going to show you why spending money in the short-term to service your transmission properly is actually a way to save money in the longer term.
What Does a Typical Transmission Service Involve?
In the UK, a typical transmission service costs about £250-450 depending on your location and the make/model of your car. It goes without saying that the fancier the car and the transmission, the higher the overall cost. As we mentioned in the introduction, some people baulk at that cost, thinking they’ll skip it “just this once” and come again at a later date.
Let’s be clear, first of all, on what exactly is involved in a typical transmission service? They normally are conducted after about 30,000 miles, or every 2-3 years when thinking about the average UK driver.
Transmission Fluid Flushing and Replacement
Arguably the most important task in the transmission service is to flush and replace the automatic transmission fluid. As with oil in the engine, this transmission fluid is the lifeblood of your automatic gearbox. Its condition will be inspected every time your car goes in for its annual service, and when the time is right, old fluid will be flushed out and fresh fluid put in its place.
The flushing process is essential because the old fluid will invariably be carrying metal shavings and other contaminant particles that it has picked up over the last 30,000 miles. No trace of these can remain when the new fluid goes in, otherwise your fresh fluid starts to be contaminated from the moment it goes in.
Besides replacing the fluid, another key job is either cleaning or replacing the filters within that help maintain the flow and catch those above-mentioned contaminants that we mentioned. In some cases, the filters have to be replaced, but in other models they can be cleaned and then put back.
Failing to maintain the filters properly will see one’s car transmission fast getting clogged up to the point where fluid can’t move freely between the parts it needs to. This will lead to some or most parts of the transmission becoming starved of fluid, which increases friction and excess heat, while at the same time reducing its ability to shift smoothly.
Transmission Plan Cleaning
Some of those same contaminants that can get everywhere in your transmission via the old fluid will also settle in the transmission pan, which therefore also needs to be properly cleaned during a transmission service. Since the pan is the main storage and reservoir of your automatic transmission fluid, then it would be no good to ignore this step, as the contaminants would simply find their way back into the fresh fluid and then start being pumped around your transmission.
Screening for Faults
Finally, skilled and experienced mechanics will always look at your transmission during any service to make sure that all the components are in good order and are working properly. If there are signs of transmission fault or failure, either through a diagnostic test or through the driver reporting warning signs like gear slippage, grinding, excess heat, etc, then the mechanic will look into them and see what needs to be done.
How a Transmission Service Saves You Money
Now that we’re clear on what a transmission service involves, how do we get from spending £250-450 to the idea of saving money? If everything is working normally, why can’t we just wait another 30,000 miles? Or why can’t we just wait until we detect one of the warning signs of a bad transmission and just take it to be fixed then?
Transmission Repairs and Replacements are More Expensive
If you think that spending, say, £300 on a transmission service is a huge bill, just wait until you see the bill you’ll get if and when your transmission fails and it needs serious repairs or even replacing. That bill will easily cost at least £1,000, and can go as high as £10,000 depending on the type of transmission you have, possibly even more.
Let’s say you drive a VW, for instance. An older model with a more basic torque converter system could set you back £2,000-3,000 to replace, but a more advanced and modern VW direct shift gearbox (DSG) could run to double that, or more.
A Well-Serviced Transmission Delivers Better Fuel Economy
Next, when your transmission is working beautifully, the fuel economy of your car is also maximised. Falling mileage per gallon is a classic sign that your engine and/or transmission is experiencing serious problems and needs repairs. Keeping both in good order will ensure that you can keep your miles-per-gallon performance at the optimum level. In these times of rising fuel prices, such advantages are more important than ever.
A Well-Serviced Transmission Extends the Vehicle’s Life
Another saving comes in the fact that a transmission kept in good health invariably means a vehicle in overall better health, which means you can keep the same vehicle for longer without needing to burden yourself with the cost of getting a new one. Your same vehicle will come down in cost, particularly in insurance, which helps reduce the burden of maintenance and servicing costs. New cars are expensive in every way, so keep your current vehicle running longer.
Full Service History Increases Resale Value
Finally, if you service your gearbox — as well as the other parts of your vehicle — regularly, then in the end what you’ll have is a pre-owned vehicle with a complete service history, something that can make a lot of difference in your asking price when selling. If you’re well-maintained and up to date, and the car looks half decent, you can expect an above-average asking price.