Is Driving in the Southwest Hard on Auto Transmissions?

Sun Devil Auto Expert, published on 12/16/2015

The heat in Arizona provides all kinds of unique challenges at home, at work, and on the road. When it comes to your vehicle, no internal component takes more punishment in high temperatures than your transmission. Although it’s not the dreaded summer, it’s still important to learn about the specific factors that put the greatest strain on your system so you’ll be prepared for the season.

Keep It Cool

Your transmission is made to handle the heat, but every component has its limits. Soaring temperatures accelerate the breakdown of your vehicle’s transmission fluid, a substance vital to maintaining long-term functionality. Though regular maintenance certainly helps to prevent problems, you can take several steps to reduce the impact while driving:

  • Stop-and-go traffic works your transmission harder, requiring more frequent shifting and generating excess heat. Try to avoid it, when possible.
  • Towing and hauling heavy loads is also particularly difficult on a transmission operating in extremely high temperatures.
  • Ensure that your transmission fluid levels are adequate and that no leaks exist.

Other elements that play a part in transmission performance include your radiator and transmission cooler. Respectively, these components work to cool your transmission and regulate fluid distribution, so it’s important that you can depend on them, especially when the warmer months are approaching.

Preventative Maintenance

You’ve probably heard it before: there’s no strategy like preventative car care. There’s a lot of truth to this statement, so make sure you stick to a schedule with your vehicle - especially when driving in the Southwest. Keep the following tips in mind for your car or truck:

  • Fluid Flush: Replacing fluids is key to maintaining reliable performance from your automobile. Intervals vary by auto manufacturer, but most passenger vehicles should have a transmission flush performed once every 30,000 - 50,000 miles.
  • Service and Repairs: If you suspect that problems already exist, or if it’s been a long time since your transmission has been serviced, consider a professional inspection. When issues are identified early on, they’re often much easier and less costly to repair.

You can’t always control the conditions you drive in, but you can take steps to protect your car or truck from the extreme Southwestern heat.