Is It Safe to Drive with the Transmission Temperature Light On?

How well do you know about the mechanism of your car? Not much, right? Well, don’t feel sheepish because most people are just like you! Now, you have to understand some basic functions to drive safely. And the transmission temperature light is one of them!

So what does the transmission temperature warning light mean? It means that your transmission is overheating. Is it dangerous? Yes. The heat, more than anything else, is the reason for the failure of transmission.

Is It Safe to Drive When the Transmission Temperature Light Is On?

No! Why? Let’s find out:

The normal transmission temperature is between 175 and 225 degrees Celsius. It is in a super healthy condition when it operates at or below 175°C. 

Remember that for every 20 degrees past 225 degrees, you will get half the normal life out of your gearbox. Similarly, every 20-degree drop in temperature is likely to double its life.

When the light is on, it indicates that the fluid temperature has reached at least 250 degrees. At this point, the fluid starts breaking down, reducing the lifespan of the gearbox as an aftereffect.

transmission temperature warning light
Don’t drive when the transmission is overheating. (Photo: The Economist)

If you continue driving, the temperature will keep rising. It will be a disastrous situation if it crosses 270 degrees. The fluid will completely break down at this stage and the transmission will stop functioning. 

So, keeping driving with the transmission temperature light on can lead to an accident because of the car’s breakdown and an expensive repair job.

Why Does The Transmission Temperature Light Is On?

Transmission Fluid Shortage

Lacking transmission fluid is one of the reasons your transmission temperature lights up. Remedying this issue can be topping off the suitable fluid and determining where the leaks are.

High Transmission Temperatures

In the case of transmission overheating, most cars will also instantly display a transmission warning light. 

In this case, it is critical to examine the overall amount and quality of your vehicle’s transmission fluid and replace it according to the manufacturer’s maintenance plan.

Diagnostic Codes Saved

In many circumstances, if a transmission-specific failure code is saved, the vehicle’s transmission warning light will illuminate. Internal transmission failures to basic electrical difficulties within the valve body might all be the cause of such codes.

Your Car Need Maintenance

Under some conditions, the activation of a transmission light on car may not be symptomatic of a problem at all. On the contrary, some cars use a similar light to warn that routine transmission-specific maintenance is required.

What To Do When The Transmission Temperature Warning Light On?

You should stop driving. Immediately. Continuing driving in this condition is extremely dangerous. You have to park somewhere and wait for a while for the transmission to cool down. 

Then start again but with caution. If the light is on again, stop the car, let the gearbox fluid warm down, and then take the car to a repair shop. If driving appears to be dangerous, call a towing company to take the vehicle to the mechanics.

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How to Find Out If the Transmission Is Overheating?

Watching out for the transmission temperature light to turn on! But, there are a couple more ways to do it. A hot transmission discharges a kind of sweet odor. Sometimes, the warning light may not come on, but if you sniff something out of the ordinary, stop the car. 

Start the journey after some time when you think that the fluid temperature has gone back to normal.

Transmission Temperature
Change the fluid if the level is low or it is dirty. (Photo: Bryant Motors)

Another way to find out the problem is to check the transmission fluid. Unlike engine oil, it does not get burnt up while driving the car. 

So, a low fluid level is an indication of some troubles. If you find it black or darker than the normal color, it’s a surefire way to tell that the transmission is overheating.

FAQs on Transmission Temperature Light On

  1. Is it possible to drive with a heated transmission?

Overheating transmissions is a big problem. If this occurs, you should get your transmission system examined as quickly as possible. Driving with a gearbox that is too hot can be quite dangerous, and it may even prevent you from driving at all.

  1. How can I reduce the temperature of my transmission?

From time to time, switch to neutral.

Allowing your car to idle in neutral in heavy traffic, on railroad lines, or while stopped at a red light reduces the pressure on the gearbox. This is your chance to reduce the intensity of your transmission by cooling it down.

  1. What is an acceptable transmission temperature?

Temperatures ranging from 160 to 220 degrees.

Keep the temperature of your gearbox between 160 and 220 degrees to keep it safe. Some transmissions can maintain a safe normal transmission temperature at temperatures somewhat over that range.

  1. Is coolant used to keep the transmission cool?

During typical driving, the gearbox, like the engine, becomes heated. The fluid is sent through a cooler within the radiator to cool the gearbox. 

When the engine cooling system is operating correctly, the engine coolant flows through the radiator and over the gearbox cooler.

  1. How long can I drive with the temperature gauge turned on?

Typically, this light offers you at least a hint of a significant problem. Keep an eye on the light for the next mile or so, and if it doesn’t turn off by then, pull over and switch off the engine.

The Final Words

It’s vital to find out the transmission problems at the early stage to avoid bigger malfunctions and expensive repair jobs down the road. So, you have to watch out for the transmission temperature light and other symptoms to keep your car up and running.