Transmission fluid works with the engine to ensure torque, excellent speed, and ultimate performance in your car. Without transmission fluid, your vehicle cannot move, and in case it is used up, it is costly to fix.
Metal shavings, grime, fragments, and metal flakes in the transmission indicate friction and wearing out of inner parts, so it would be best to take them seriously. However, not all metal shavings in the transmission fluid are a cause for alarm; some are harmless.
So, how much metal is too much in transmission fluid?
The usual metal level in transmission fluid should be 2%; you measure metal content using a chromatograph. Any metal level of more than 5% in the transmission fluid is too much and will result in clogging filters, less performance, and worse damage to your engine.
Therefore, it is vital to check the transmission fluid’s content more often and adjust.
Do you want to learn more about metals in transmission fluid, their causes, and how to fix this issue?
What are Metal Shavings in Transmission Fluid?
Metals in the transmission fluid result from either regular wearing of parts or increased wearing out of some components.
It is normal to find debris in the fluid while the engine and transmission function normally. This kind of debris is mostly not sharp and has no edges, so you will not feel anything when you feel them with your fingers. It feels like you just rubbed light grease.
Auto manufacturers fit a metal magnet in the transmission crankcase because they know there will likely be metal shavings due to the wearing of components.
Thus, the metallic magnet helps collect the metal shaving and stores them in the crankcase, so they don’t return to bearings and gears and damage them.
Therefore, when the metal shavings in the fluid are not sharp and are smooth to touch, they are normal, and you should not worry about them since wearing out of components is normal.
While it is normal to have considerable amounts of metal shavings in the transmission fluid and crankcase, chunks and fragments of metal particles threaten your car’s transmission system .
Gold-colored particles indicate worn-out gear teeth, so get a mechanic to inspect and fix the problem when you notice them. Fragments and other clutch particles in the transmission pan show acceleration in the wearing of the transmission.
So, if you find those chunks and pieces on the magnet in the transmission pan, get an expert to inspect it thoroughly and fix it immediately.
Causes of Metal Shavings in Transmission Fluid?
Here are the common causes;
1. Failure to replace transmission fluid regularly
When you fail to change the transmission fluid often, it leads to the building up of metal particles which causes the shavings. With time, it damages the transmission and leads to other issues.
To prevent the formation of metal shavings in the fluid, you can try replacing it after every three months or after 6000 miles. It will allow the transmission fluid to run smoothly and ensure the outstanding performance of your car.
2. Accelerating your engine quickly
When you accelerate the engine quickly, the engine and transmission fail to get enough oil for lubricating the inner parts properly.
It will fasten wearing out on the transmission system parts. The wearing out of the pieces then accumulates metal shavings in the fluid.
3. Inappropriate shifting of gears
If rough drivers or learners shift the gears roughly, they cause friction, leading to abnormal wearing out of the gears. Abusive shifting of gears also causes metal shavings in the transmission fluid.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that your transmission fluid requires proper maintenance and adequate care, just as the other parts of the engine.
If you don’t change the fluid often, the gears will start grinding against each other, and the friction will shave some of their parts. This straining accelerates wearing out your transmission, and it can even lead to damaging other components of your car.
The drip pan magnet of your vehicle cannot accumulate all the metals, so when you notice sharp metals shavings in the transmission pan, ensure you take your car to an expert for further inspection and immediate fixing.
Pictures of Metal Shavings in Transmission
Below are some pictures of metal shavings in transmission. They will give you an idea of how metal shavings look like.
Ensure you act soonest possible if you notice metal particles in the transmission fluid. First, consult an expert mechanic so that they can tell you the exact source of metal shavings; you take a picture of the liquid and send it to the expert.
The repairer will then determine the type of metal shavings in the transmission fluid then advise you on the best method of fixing it or what to do next.
While sometimes the metal shavings are simply cosmetic, and you can remove those following easy steps, other cases may be dangerous. The mechanic is likely to advise you to replace the transmission fluid.
Replacing the transmission fluid is mostly in severe cases, and you will mostly do it if there are no other alternatives.
How to Remove Metal Shavings in Transmission Fluid?
If you notice something is not right with the transmission, you should do a thorough inspection to know the source of metal shavings.
First, drain the transmission fluid and then loosen the transmission pan. It would help if you used a car lift to get access to draining the transmission fluid.
Now remove the transmission to determine the type of shavings in the fluid. There are various types of shavings, and they include;
- Metal shavings- it indicates worn-out gear teeth when you find metal-like shavings.
- Brass shavings- brass-like shavings indicate bad bushings or thrust washers. Since the components consist of brass, they wear out with time after covering many miles.
- Black pieces- if you see dust or black particles, it shows band or clutch friction that leads to wearing out.
After seeing the type of shavings, you can get a picture to show your mechanic for fixing your car.
Loosen, and then wash metal in the transmission filter. You require a spray can, a brush, fuel, and a bowl to clean the metal shavings in the magnet and transmission pan.
After cleaning, let the components dry and put them back in reverse. Here, you will need to remove your car’s support and lower it. You can ask an expert to recommend a suitable transmission fluid for your car and refill it.
If you notice any sharp particles in your transmission pan, call a mechanic to help you take the vehicle to the garage for proper fixing.
On How Much Metal Is Too Much in Transmission Fluid
Regular grinding and tear produce metal shavings in the transmission fluid. You can see the metals with your bare eyes and feel them with your hands. However, a lot of accumulation of sharp metal particles is dangerous.
So, how much metal is too much in transmission fluid?
You can measure metal content using chromatography; when metals levels are above 5%, it is too much and can clog filters. The usual metal level in the transmission fluid should be about 2%.
Now that you understand too many metal shavings in the transmission fluid can damage your engine, ensure you regularly inspect and change the fluid.
Hi I’m Marshall based in 1478 Doctors Drive Santa Monica, CA. I’m your DIY Car Repairman with more than 5 years experience in automobile repair, a skill I learned from my old man.
I started this blog to share my experience on both simple and technical aspects of your car.