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Automatic Transmission Temperature Gauge
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djkeev Premium Member
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 5:52 am    Post subject: Automatic Transmission Temperature Gauge Reply with quote

I'll admit it, while I don't shun Automatic transmissions, having been in the Auto Repair Business, I'm leery of them.

I change the oils too frequently, a don't tow with them and in general I pamper them.
With the Vanagon I want to install a temperature gauge to keep a close eye on this one.

I've searched around and have found many posts about transmission oil coolers and engine temperature gauges but almost nothing about monitoring the Transmission temperatures.

Where do you suggest mounting the probe? I'm dropping the pan and I am going to weld in a bung while I have it out. The bung will be for a drain plug enabling my obsessive oil change habit but it could also serve as a probe bung as well.

Good idea?
Bad idea?
Is there a better location or the probe?

Any gauge suggestions?
Temperature range?


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm the same with autos. Years of riding in taxis and quizzing them on how they maintain them to get 600,000 miles routinely taught me the secret - always have fresh auto trans fluid. Most changed it monthly. I do annual drain and fills and at 235k, both trannys literally still shift like new - even under heavy loads.

So I'm interested in this question as well.

I think you should go the full monty and install one of those trick oil drain plug valves, so you can literally reach under and swing the lever to start draining without tools - making a drain/fill as easy as possible.

Good thread.

1987 2WD Wolfsburg Vanagon Weekender "Mango", two fully locked 80 Series LandCruisers. 2016 Subaru Outback boxer. 1990 Audi 90 Quattro 20V with rear locking differential. 1988 Mitsubishi Van w/ dual spinny seats, mid engine and solid axle.1990 burgundy parts Vanagon. 1984 Porsche 944, 1992 Lexus LS400, 1988 Toyota Supra 5 speed targa project in pieces, 2002 BMW 325iX
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Zeitgeist 13
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If I do eventually move forward with my manual to auto swap, I plan on adding an external cooler with inline pre/post temp sensors to measure delta. I'll run both sensors to the same gauge and just toggle the inputs
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I used to have a tow truck with an automatic transmission. I used it for several years hauling vehicles up and down the mountains here in AZ. This is what I installed to monitor AT temps -


I found that going up some long mountain grades the temperature of the transmission could approach the red range easily even if I wasn't towing a vehicle. I would pull off the side of the road and let it cool down (could take 20 minutes or so). One thing I noticed was that the transmission would overheat before the radiator, so, if you are monitoring your AT temp with your engine temp gauge you could be in trouble.

As far as ATF change frequency goes - I always changed at least every year, 30K miles, or when my AT temp gauge had encroached the red zone of the gauge , whichever happened earliest.

Just remember - if your ATF smells burnt you have already damaged your clutches and seals.

just my 2

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 28, 2013 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I got my Westy it had the VDO gauges on the dash for oil temp and oil pressure. Each had an A-B switch for senders from the engine and transmission. Neat idea to check without adding more gauges. After my fire, I used the transmission pressure sender for the engine. Never hooked the transmission temp sender back up, but it is still located right on top of the transmission. The transmission pressure sender was in a hose loop for an external cooler.

I suppose if I spent a lot of time in the mountains or desert I would get these transmission senders working again.
1981 AC Westy
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