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Old 03-16-2015, 09:29 PM   #1
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Transmission Temperatures

So I realize that anything tow related will cause people to form bands of militias named after car manufactures and do battle but I'm curious if anyone has any thoughts on what transmission temps would be considered normal, caution, warning and kaboom ranges.

I'm in a Chevy Avalanche with 3.73 and 5.3L. It has the HD tow package from the factory which includes the transmission cooler and temp gauge. The manual says that temps from 180-205 are considered "normal." On a recent trip to central Florida, in heavy stop and go traffic going down I-4 and ambient air temps 87+ degrees, my trans temp hit 209 degrees at one point. I assume that has a lot to do with the lack of air flow through the radiator because of the stop and go's but this summer I plan to tow over the Blue Ridge Mountains (Adirondacks) and there will be prolonged periods of uphill grades of 6%. For planning purposes, it would be great to know when I should plan to pull over and let it cool off if need be. Or, if I can get to the top and only top out at 220, no damage will be done.

Anyone have experience operating at higher temps? Or at the very least, anyone know where the temp range info can be found?
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Old 03-16-2015, 09:51 PM   #2
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When I had a GM truck with a 5.3L and the 3.73 we pulled a 10% grade in Utah with a 25' trailer, and the trans temp went to 220 I believe it was.

Later I talked with the dealer about it, and the rep asked me if I saw an alarm. I told him I didn't. He said first, don't worry about it, you did not hurt it, and then he said it will alarm with high trans temp at 230 degrees. I do not know what the "kaboom" point is, but I suspect higher than 230.
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Old 03-16-2015, 09:54 PM   #3
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Occasional Temps in the 220 range is normal in the conditions you describe. I'd get on a 25000 mile partial change interval or a 50000 mile flush (total change) specify dexron VI refill. It is retro for all prior dexrons.
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Old 03-16-2015, 11:50 PM   #4
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Never did figure out exactly what happened, but my F150 5.4 automatic with 3.73 gears lost power and made strange noises about 5 miles into a 6-mile 8% grade in NC. The dash water temperature gauge was centerlined, cylinder head and oil temps were right around 220 and the transmission hit 234. I was going slow, little air flow over the cooler. I took it in for a service right after that and was told that, at 120,000 miles, it still had the original transmission filter in it. Fluid was slightly discolored, but didn't smell bad. My mechanic said he thought the old filter might have been the culprit, but we couldn't be sure. I was going to try the same tow this year, but i sold the truck. I'd recommend trying to keep transmission below 230.

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Old 03-17-2015, 03:13 AM   #5
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Found this on thedieselstop.com...

Source: SmokeyWren, Administrator at thedieselstop.com
Thread: Maximum Safe Transmission Fluid Temperature

Assuming your sender is located in the port on the side of the tranny, then expect temps of about 60 to 90 degres above ambient. So cruising down the interstate in 100-degree sunshine, you can expect about 160 to 190 - closer to 160-170 unloaded and 175-185 loaded to the gills.

As long as you're cruising at above 40 MPH, you shouldn't see temps over about 190. But when you slow down and continue with the torque convertor unlocked, temps can rise quickly to over 200.

You need to pay attention to the tranny temp when your unlocked torque convertor is producing lots of excess heat. Such as crawling along in rush-hour traffic, climbing a mountain at less than 40 MPH, backing a trailer up hill - that sorta thing. I personally have not seen much over 200 in over 30,000 miles of towing my 5er, but I don't do much backing uphill into a neat camping spot, either.

The caution - or yellow - zone is about 200 to about 225 degrees F. The redline is 225.

If I ever see over 225, then I'll change out my Mobil 1 synthetic ATF as soon as possible.

Here's why:

Originally posted by DouglasJ
quote:

Note this article from Auto parts maker Niehoff:
---------------------------------------------
Tech Tip Corner
Transmission Fluid
Automatic transmission fluid will provide 100,000 miles of service before oxidation occurs under normal operating temperatures of about 170F. Above normal operating temperatures, the oxidation rate doubles (useful life of fluid is cut in half) with each 20 increase in temperature.
The approximate life expectancy at various temperatures is as follows:

175F 100,000 miles
195F 50,000 miles
212F 25,000 miles
235F 12,000 miles
255F 6,250 miles
275F 3,000 miles
295F 1,500 miles
315F 750 miles
335F 325 miles
355F 160 miles
375F 80 miles
390F 40 miles
415F Less than 30 minutes

This information clearly shows why transmission oil coolers and the various maintenance intervals are recommended for severe usage.

Above 300F, the metals inside the transmission will warp and distort in varying degrees depending on the severity of overheat. Because this damage occurs and fluid life is so seriously impaired, rocking out of snow, mud or sand should never exceed a very few minutes.
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Old 03-17-2015, 03:57 AM   #6
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Transmission Temperatures

The recommendation from Adam at Pure Diesel in Kernersville, NC, is transmission fluid change about every 50,000 miles. This is especially true when one has tuned the engine for more power.

Of course, my imagination plays a role, but IMO, the fresh fluid and filter, seems to make the transmission shift smoother. My 2008 RAM Cummins 2500 crew cab, long bed 4x4 is silky smooth and has pulled over half of its current 82,000 miles.

Now, a question...... Are all those on this thread looking at a transmission fluid temp gauge in their TV?


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Old 03-17-2015, 06:09 AM   #7
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You did not damage the tranny.

The PCM will go into 'limp mode' before damage will occur.
The driver information center warning @ 265 degrees.
DIC warning and limp mode @ 275degrees.

Our 8.1 Burb runs @ 190-200* towing, has gone to 230* under heavy load, with no DIC faults.

Yes we always look at the temp gauge....

95 Burb


2006 Burb


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Old 03-17-2015, 02:01 PM   #8
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The temperature chart posted upthread is now out of date as Dex VI and other newer fluids are more tolerant of heat.

You don't say what year your Avalanche is.

Any newer (1990s up) Chevy truck will have a PCM controlled transmission and the PCM will start shifting harder and keeping torque converter locked up longer when temps start to climb. I notice a change when temps hit around 200 on mine. They've gone up to 220 at times, no big deal
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Old 03-17-2015, 09:28 PM   #9
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It's a 2007 Avalanche. Just crossed 100,000 miles. Bought it new and there is not one single aftermarket part on it. Not even wiper blades. Only oil changes done outside of dealerships so I guess a Fram filter or two. Second set of brakes installed at 96,000 in preparation for towing. If she can do the Blue Ridge Mountains, I will own her till she can't. Yes, she's a she.
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Old 03-17-2015, 09:31 PM   #10
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Robert, I don't have "steam" gauges for the trans temp. It's just a number displayed on the DIC. That red arc is good Intel.
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Old 03-17-2015, 10:28 PM   #11
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There is a guy on the Duramax Forums. Retired engineer working on Allison trannys. Here is a link to his thread there.
Former Allison Transmission Fluids Engineer (Mr. TranSynd) - Chevy and GMC Duramax Diesel Forum

Very kind fellow... I've spoken with him a few times... great to work with. If you have tranny questions.. he usually helps answer questions... and not with GeekTalk.
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Old 03-19-2015, 11:05 PM   #12
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Info from GM on fan control for tranny temp

I have a GM vehicle with the tranny temp display in the DIC, and just like the OP, I have wondered "how hot is too hot". So I emailed GM online support, and when I gave them my VIN, they sent the following chart that shows what triggers the cooling fan. Note the transmission fluid temps: The fan goes to half speed at 253, and full speed at 257. I take that to mean if the temp is below this range, it is not a big problem. When towing with my vehicle, 200 is common, 220 occurs when there is a mild grade for a while, and pulling the big passes in Colorado gets me over 245 when I hit the top (I have never seen 250).

My vehicle is a 2010 GMC Yukon (short wheelbase), 6.2L engine, 6 speed tranny, 3.42 gears.

Unfortunately, I don't remember the exact email address at GM that provided this info. I don't have access to my old email at this time.


Info from GM follows:

===================================

The Information below may vary depending on vehicle speed and load conditions. There are normal slight variations of the actual Temp Gauge reading itself at the lower to mid ranges. The temp gauge is designed to be the most accurate at the high end of the temp scale since it is most critical for engine overheat issues.

There are several Items that affect the actual Fan Speed operation Shown in the Table Below.
Item Commanding Fan
% Of Fan Speed Command
Temp Value
Fan Operation
Engine Oil
>50%
277F
Off toLow

>90%
288F
Low to High

<85%
280F
High to Low

<44%
270F
Low to Off


Transmission Fluid
>50%
253F
Off toLow

>90%
257F
Low to High

<85%
248F
High to Low

<44%
233F
Low to Off


Engine Coolant
>50%
226F
Off toLow

>90%
234F
Low to High

<85%
221F
High to Low

<44%
219F
Low to Off


AC Compressor Pressure
>50%
1275kPa
Off toLow

>90%
1900kPa
Low to High

<85%
1700kPa
High to Low

<44%
1100kPa
Low to Off





.
.
.
(some other text deleted)
.
.
.

There is a trans indicator message described below. Abnormal Trans damage starts to occur when the message is displayed.

"TRANSMISSION HOT IDLE ENGINE"
This message is displayed when the TCM detects a transmission fluid temperature (TFT) equal to or greater than 132C (270F) for 5 seconds
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Old 03-20-2015, 03:45 AM   #13
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Well that's it then, 270 degrees is it. It seems logical and consistent with the other evidence produced here. I wonder about the other temps and correlating fan speeds though. I wonder if those are for outside tow/haul mode...? I may just call GM today and see what I can squeeze out of them. I'll be sure to voice my opinion that they should publish whatever info I get in the manual.
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Old 03-20-2015, 06:01 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chaseav View Post
Robert, I don't have "steam" gauges for the trans temp. It's just a number displayed on the DIC. That red arc is good Intel.
"steam"?

Our 95 2500 Burb did not have a gauge, add-on Tekonsha external trans filter and temp gauge.


The 2006 2500 Burb has an OEM gauge.

Been away from the Chevy store for awhile now, but I believe any GM with a tow/haul mode had a T-gauge, or was it just the 2500's ummmm......

Bob
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