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Those of you that traipse onto the sand need to be especially careful of an often overlooked component of your 4X4, the transmission.

Driving on the hot, deep sand at slow speeds can present a problem for your transmission.

Some newer vehicles have an external transmission cooler co-located with your coolant radiator. That's great on the open road but at slow speeds you can't get enough air flowing through to properly cool the tranny.

Far too many of the pre-2000 models don't even have a tranny radiator.

Some of the lighter duty vehicles like SUVs don't have one either. You need to realize that the smaller SUVs were designed more so for shallow snow than deep, hot sand, everything in the vehicle is lighter and cannot take the beating like a full-sized heavy duty pick up.

Warning signs:

After driving for a few miles at slow speeds your tranny can heat up to temps that exceed the limits of the fluid. You may feel the floorboard getting warm to hot, smell a burning odor, experience sluggish shifting.

Once the fluid in the tranny exceeds about 220 degrees it breaks down the fluid's ability to efficiently transfer heat away up to the cooler. Often times, it will leak out of seals or even boil out of the fill tube in the engine compartment.

Recommendations:

First and foremost, I would recommend an aftermarket transmission temp gauge. Do NOT rely on the factory-installed gauge, they're absolute junk!!!

I don't care what you are driving, the factory gauge is JUNK!

Need I say it again?

(Junk!)

There are many quality gauges out there and are fairly easy to install and easy on the budget. You can obtain the standard gauge for as little as $40 including the required wiring. Personally, I like the DiPricols, you don't need to install a power head for it as you do with some of the others. The DiPricols run about $45.

Ok, so my tranny does get too hot, what now?

Alright, you got your temp gauge in and you see it goes above 200 degrees. What you need to do is put it in neutral and bring the RPMs up to about 1250 to get the fluid circulating and the fan blowing. While driving, drop it into a lower gear to get the fluid and fan moving faster. If you don't have a tranny cooler up front the only thing you can do is sit it out for a hour or so. Another option is get it back on a road where it is legal to do 40 mph. No, don't do it on the sand....I said LEGAL 40 mph.

What preventative measures can I take?

Before you hit the road, check all your fluids for the proper levels.

Stay on the harder packed sand, the deeper the sand, the more friction, the more push the tranny has to give. When at slower speeds, there is less cooling.

Drive at a normal pace; don't hot dog it on the sand.

Another and better option is to install an aftermarket transmission cooler.

This may be used in parallel with your existing factory cooler. If you don't have one, you may be able to install an aftermarket cooler.

The one I prefer is a "Tru-Cool" rated for vehicles 22,000 lbs or less.

Prices vary but you can figure about $80.

The Dark Side:

Have you seen the temp go above 220 degrees? Has the fluid boiled out of the filler tube?

Leaked from the seals after a hard run?

Sloppy shifting?

It's possible that you've cooked the fluid. Time to change it! Don't wait until spring, fall, summer, etc, change it ASAP! The longer you keep toasted fluid in there, the more heat damage you may incur to your tranny.

As long as you maintain proper maintenance on your vehicle and you don’t dog it beyond its capabilities, you’ll enjoy a nice day on the beach.

See ya on the sand!

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Great info, Steve. I am going to get my jeep jiffylubed tomorrow. Would you recommend washing down the engine with water? How about cleaning the truck in general. All I do (on the outside) is wash it down the water after every trip. I spray the bottom too.

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Great info, Steve. I am going to get my jeep jiffylubed tomorrow. Would you recommend washing down the engine with water? How about cleaning the truck in general. All I do (on the outside) is wash it down the water after every trip. I spray the bottom too.

Look in your owner's manual for what to cover under the hood. Generally it will be the computer area and electrical area. Cover the distributor too. Tell Carrie to spray on Simple Green everywhere else, let it sit 15 minutes then use normal pressure water to gently rinse off. Tell her not to use a sprayer on the hose end. Let it run for maybe 10 minutes after that to dry out with the hood up.

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I took my jeep to the local Jiffy Lube and asked about getting a transmission fluid change. The head guy in charge said that he would not do it because of the mileage was over 100k. I told him about the overheating incident. I'm not sure what to do. I did get the oil changed and the regular service. One funny thing that happened was the lady had to pull in into the garage area and I saw her holding her nose :lol: I guess she isn't a big fan of "bunker" air freshener. haha

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I don't know what the toodles he means about not changing it because it's got over 100k miles.

Well, that's Iffy Lube for ya, IF they'll do it and IF they do it right....

What's this about it overheating? What happened?

Has the tranny blood ever been changed????

Take it to AAMCO and tell you also want the torque converter purged too.

Get them to change out the xfer case fluid and rear fluid too. Different viscosities but doesn't take much.

Bait scented interior....

Hmmm, no wonder Carrie drives herself to the beach.

Hah! And you thought it was because she was doing other things when you were ready to leave!

:cry:

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I'll get someoneo else to check it out. Thanks for the advice. Carrie does not like the bunka smell either. It doesn't help that I often forget to plug up the cooler drain when putting in the back of the jeep! *Hey, where did all the brown water go?*

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One other thing to help your tranny and engine from overheating is to make sure you air down the tires.

Not always the case...

A lighter vehicle, especially with wider tires doesn't need to air down. Airing down will actually raise the tranny temps because of the increased friction on the ground and the pushing of more sand.

My mule is 7300 lbs with no gear on it. I have to air down because the tires knife through the sand. This won't cause excess heat, just a big hole capped by my frame.

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I know my jeep runs A LOT better when I air down. I'm just lazy. Plus, I fish right out front most of the time.

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If you are running anything above 9" of rubber and your vehicle is a short wheel base under 4 or 5k lbs you can do it without airing down or having a heat problem. Remember, heat comes from straining or lugging and low forward speeds. RPMs up and you get the fluid transfer and fan speed, low RPM you don't get enough fluid flowing nor enough fan speed to properly cool through the fins.

If you're doing a short blast just out front there won't be a heat issue.

Ask the guys with the full size Lance in their bed about heat....

You'll see they have a second tranny cooler up front.

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