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! They only care about getting into the car and driving from one place to another without any trouble. Now, you have to understand some basic functions to drive safe. The transmission temperature light is one of them.

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

What to Do When the Warning Light Is On?

You should stop driving. Immediately.

Continue 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 to 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, obviously! But, there are a couple more ways to do it.

A hot transmission discharges of a kind of sweet odor. Sometimes, the warning light may not come on, but if you sniff something out of 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 source: Bryant Motors)

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

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 too keep your car up and running.