Most people have heard of hydraulic-powered equipment, and they usually associate it with industrial machinery designed to lift or move heavy loads (a forklift, dump truck bed, manufacturing equipment, etc.). But did you know that your personal vehicle likely has at least one hydraulic component? (And if you compete in certain show categories, you may have several “tricked out” hydraulic systems.) The reality is that multiple systems can employ hydraulic power, including some brakes (particularly in high-performance cars) and power steering. In our line of work, however, we are most concerned with the likelihood that your automatic transmission operates using hydraulic principles and lines. Therefore, the certified technicians at L&R Transmissions in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, are here to educate you about your hydraulic lines, encourage you to seek repairs if you suspect a problem, and assist you with all your transmission service needs.
The hoses and lines that move fluids from one place to another in your car are either pneumatic or hydraulic. Pneumatic indicates that the fluid is moved by atmospheric gas (such as air) forcing fluid along through the lines, while hydraulic pressure involves using a pump to force fluid through hoses at high pressure. Thus, hydraulic hoses must be manufactured to withstand the extreme demands of their intended applications. This includes special compressed fittings used to join and secure hydraulic lines. Understanding these basics about hydraulics will help you recognize the importance of keeping an eye on your hoses. Although you can visually observe the exterior of your hoses for cracking and peeling, you can’t see the inside of the hydraulic hoses which are reinforced with braided steel between layers of rubber or plastic. Therefore, you should be mindful of other signs that might indicate a leak. When you have a hydraulic hose leak, you may notice decreased performance in the impacted system, a warmer operating temperature, or the tell-tale drops of purplish liquid. Specific to your passenger vehicle, the most popular transmission is a hydraulic planetary automatic. (Similar heavy-duty systems can be found in many commercial trucks.) Using the hydraulic principle allows for better torque (pulling power/take-off ability) and enables the car’s gears to change by locking and unlocking the gears. As you can see, if you have a leak, the transmission will lose its ability to shift property and may eventually fail as the amount of available fluid decreases.
If you have a hydraulic hose leak, your car definitely needs attention. The bad news is two-fold. First, performance and maybe even safety are compromised when your car is losing hydraulic fluid. Second, if fluid can escape (such as around a seal), dirt and other contaminants may be able to get in, causing additional corrosion or damage to your expensive components. The good news, however, also consists of two parts. Most hydraulic hoses can be easily changed. Catching the problem early is key to preventing additional issues. Further, if that leak impacts your gear system, L&R Transmissions is your professional repair partner.