Towing with Automatic Gearboxes

Towing a trailer or boat can place severe loads on a transmission and shorten it’s life. Follow the guidelines below to help your transmission survive towing. (Please consult your owners manual for specific requirements.)


Use Lock low “L”
When you’re on the boat ramp or pulling a load up a steep incline, manually shift your transmission into the “L” position. Shift the lever manually up into drive as you begin moving.

Avoid using Overdrive
Cancel the OD. If you don’t have an OD cancel button then manually shift the transmission into “3” to stop it shifting into overdrive.

Keep Cool
Overheating is the single biggest cause of transmission failure. Cooler units are easily fitted and help keep the temperature under control when towing.

Power Option
If you have a “Normal / Power” switch then move this to the power option.

Tips for your Manual Gearbox

  • Do not drive with your left foot resting on the clutch pedal. This forces the release bearing against the clutch and will cause premature wear
  • Use a good quality oil of the correct viscosity for your particular gearbox and transfer unit (4WD). The wrong grade oil may cause wear and shift problems and even complete failure.
  • Button style race clutches cause severe loadings on gearboxes and are best kept for the racetrack
  • Vehicles with 4WD must have the same make and tire size on all wheels to avoid damage to the drive train
  • Don’t engage 4WD on tarmac unless your vehicle was designed for this

Tips for your Automatic Gearbox

  • Heat kills transmissions. Fit a transmission cooler on tow vehicles
  • Vehicles with 4WD must have the same make and tire size on all wheels to avoid damage to the drive train
  • Don’t engage 4WD on tarmac unless your vehicle was designed for this
  • When towing or in steep terrain, switch to “Power” mode and don’t use overdrive
  • Check your transmission fluid levelwith the engine running in park while hot. Neutral for Mitsubishi vehicles

Spotting Gearbox Problems Before They get worse

  • Watch for leaks or stains under the car
    If there is a persistent red oil leak that you are sure is coming from your car,  you should have your shop check to see if it is coming from your transmission or possibly from your power steering system (most power steering systems also use transmission fluid and leaks can appear on the ground in roughly the same areas as transmission leaks.)  If all you see is a few drops on the ground, you may be able to postpone repairs as long as you check your fluid level often (but check with your technician to be sure.)  If transmission fluid levels go down below minimum levels serious transmission damage can occur (the same advice goes for power steering leaks as well.)
  • Check fluid for color and odor
    Most manufacturers require that you check transmission fluid levels when the vehicle is running and on level ground.  Pull the transmission dipstick out and check the fluid for color and odor.  Transmission fluid is a transparent red oil that looks something like cherry cough syrup.  If the fluid is cloudy or muddy, or it has a burned odor,  you should have it checked by your technician who will most likely advise you to have a transmission drain and refill or transmission tune-up. See the Maintenance section below for details on this service.
  • be sensitive to new noises, vibrations and shift behavior
    A modern transmission should shift smoothly and quietly under light acceleration.  Heavier acceleration should produce firmer shifts at higher speeds.  If shift points are erratic or you hear noises when shifting, you should have it checked out immediately.  Whining noises coming from the floorboard are also a cause for concern.  If caught early, many problems can be resolved without costly transmission overhauls.  Even if you feel that you can’t afford repairs at this time, you should at least have it checked.  The technician may be able to give you some hints on what to do and not do to prolong the transmission life until you can afford the repair.