The transmission goes through a heavy workload when you tow your vehicle. As a result, the transmission fluid gets hotter which can bring serious consequences for your transmission. In that case, what you must need is an aftermarket transmission cooler that can keep your transmission cooled down to enhance the performance and lifespan of your transmission.
You may come across many questions while considering a transmission cooler for your vehicle. This article is intended to cover the answers for your frequently asked question to provide a clear idea about the transmission oil cooler.
How does a transmission cooler work?
The heated transmission fluid flows from the transmission to the radiator and then travels to the cooler. Since the air is moving over the cooler fins, the temperature of the heated fluid gets dropped which is then carried back to the transmission, power steering pump, or engine. This process repeats continuously to cool down the transmission temperature.
How to add the transmission cooler in front of the radiator or air conditioning condenser?
To mount a transmission cooler it is possible to come up with many options but the most common method for the installation is to attach it with the narrow plastic pads, rods, and fasteners. The plastic rods go through the cooler and the radiator or A/C condenser and fastened with the fasteners. Several different options for mounting a cooler are available. In the most common installation method, the cooler is attached with narrow plastic rods, pads, and fasteners. Another way to mount the cooler is to use the rigid mount kit which includes the bendable brackets for mounting it. This option is applicable if the cooler comes with the mounting points designed for brackets and proper mounting points are there in the vehicle. The third option that you can use consists of solid mounting brackets that is available for stacked-plate type transmission coolers.
What is the basic difference between the different transmission coolers such as the tube-and-fin cooler, the plate-and-fin cooler, and the stacked-plate cooler?
Tube-and-Fin Type Cooler
The basic difference among these different cooler types is based on the ability to cool the transmission fluid. The tube-and-fin style cooler has a tube to carry the fluid through the transmission cooler. It is characterized by the turbulators that excite the fluid to get more in contact with the aluminum of the tube. Aluminum has that characteristic to dissipate heat rapidly, as a result, the heat of the fluid is consumed by the aluminum to move out to the fins attached outside. It is then taken away from the cooler by the moving air that flows through the fins outside the cooler. Although these coolers work pretty well, their efficiency is the least we can have for much cooler.
Plate-and-fin Type Cooler
Plate-and-fin type coolers work on a similar principle as the above one but are more efficient in terms of transmission cooling. These coolers drive fluid through the much smaller plates causing tribulation of the transmission fluid. But the heated fluid in the plate-and-fin type is cooled better before it leaves the transmission cooler because the flatter and smaller plates allow more fluid to get in touch with the aluminum surface of the cooler.
Stacked plate cooler
Stacked-plate coolers are by far the most effective coolers for the transmission cooling. The design is the same as the plate-and-fin style coolers. However, they are designed with the high-flow turbulators for the race applications or any other heavy-duty towing. It comes with the AN (Army-Navy) fittings that are popularly used in the high-performance racing applications. This may require the cooler to be installed and removed more frequently than the conventional towing setup.
What factors to consider while choosing the best one among the 3 Coolers?
The first factor you need to consider while choosing a transmission cooler is its size. Usually, the larger coolers are the ones that provide a better cooling performance. If the tube-and-fin coolers have a similar size to the plate-and-fin coolers, then the better performing coolers are the plate-and-fin type cooler even they are slightly smaller. Another factor that needs your consideration is the cooler mounting location. If you want to mount the coolers between the radiator and a/c condenser or behind the radiator you need a more efficient cooler for more efficient cooling.
Why Are The transmission coolers rated by class?
Being in the towing industry, customers are used to the Class ratings on the trailer hitches. For this reason, it seems to be an easy way to inform the customer as to which transmission cooler is the most efficient for the towing requirements. So, it becomes simplified for the customers like having a Class II hitch on the vehicle requires a Class II cooler. But obviously, larger coolers can be used for more cooling if they want.
Do the coolers rated with the highest weight capacity are the best ones?
The general rule about the transmission fluid is that it cannot be cooled very much, so it is a good idea to use the largest cooler possible especially when you are towing. You should not use the largest possible cooler only if the climate you are living in is so cold that temperature frequently stays below 0 degrees. This would assert warming your vehicle engine for quite a few minutes. As most people warm the engine in such a condition so size is not a big deal at all.
Can this be A hazard for my factory transmission?
No. If you properly install a transmission cooler then there is no reason it should affect the factory transmission. It is a flow-through device that has nothing to do with any of the internal components. It has a simple yet significant purpose to prolong the lifespan of the transmission by cooling down the fluid.
What does the transmission cooler do while you are not towing?
This is a flow-through device that operates anytime while the engine is running. The transmission fluid flows from the transmission to the OEM and then travels to the aftermarket cooler. In the end, the cooled transmission fluid flows back to the transmission in a continuously repeated loop.
Do I need to measure the transmission cooler even if it is a custom fit one?
The transmission cooler itself is not the custom-fit part. The coolers are in the fit guide because some of the vehicle manufacturers like Ford, GM, Ford, and Chrysler/Dodge use custom fittings to make the cooler installation process more convenient.
Do most of the vehicles use custom fittings?
No. An Insta-adapt fitting that is included with the cooler is used for most of the vehicles. It is directly connected to the OEM cooler. The rubber hose that goes to the aftermarket cooler is clamped to the fitting and the one coming from it is slid over the mainline and clamped. Another location that is used to install the Insta-adapt is the in-line between the transmission cooler hose and the OEM hose.
Additionally, some vehicles may require to cut and flare the OEM aluminum or steel transmission return line. Then clamping the cooler hose directly to both ends of the cut line. Remember, many installers use this installation process as they have the required cutting and flaring equipment that saves from using any extra fittings.
How To Install The Transmission Cooler For Special Fittings?
To make the cooler installation process faster and easier you may have the special fittings available. Most vehicles that have fittings available use the snap-in fittings or the threaded flare fittings that connect the rubber hoses to the aftermarket transmission cooler while going in or coming out, by getting it in-line with the OEM cooler and the transmission’s return line.
How do you know if you need special fittings?
Using the year-make-model fit guide, it is easy to list the special fittings required for the specific vehicles if they are supplied by a listed supplier. The fit guide on the website contains the list of transmission coolers for your convenience.
What is the hose barb?
The hose barb is a part of the fitting that the rubber hose glides over. Then the hose is secured with the hose clamp. Usually, the cooler possesses the hose barb fittings to connect the rubber hoses to it.
What does NPT mean?
NPT refers to National Pipe Thread which is considered as the standard for threaded fittings in the plumbing industry. It is Much like the AN (Army-Navy) fitting which is a way to distinguish the type and size of the fittings required for any installation application.
Do all vehicles support all types of coolers or only the ones listed in the fit guide for a specific year, make and model supported?
As we said, a transmission cooler is a flow-through device that is not designed for any specific year, make and model. All coolers are supported by almost all the vehicles with an automatic transmission, provided the fact that it will fit in the location it is supposed to be installed. However, year-make-model fittings are also available for some of the vehicles to make the installation procedure easier. To determine whether the vehicle supports custom fitting or not, you can use the fit guide.
Is it possible to put the transmission cooler even if the fit guide does not list it?
Yes. The installer will determine how the cooler can be installed on the vehicle. Any of the above-mentioned installation procedures can be used. Generally, a transmission cooler is not listed unless the information of its manufacture is available or the vehicle manufacturers recommend to install the cooler.
Is it possible to install the engine oil cooler, the power steering cooler and the transmission oil cooler all together?
Yes. It is possible to install all of the three coolers on the vehicle. If you have enough space for that then there is nothing wrong with it. The dual-function coolers are also available. These are mainly two different coolers in one. having an inlet and outlet for two separate fluids.
Are the mounting locations for the coolers the same as the power steering coolers and the engine oil coolers?
Yes. But you need to consider the fit carefully in case you are installing more than one cooler. If there is enough room then it is fine to install all three coolers.
Do the transmission coolers attach to the radiator?
The transmission coolers do not attach to the radiator. They are attached in-line with the return line of the transmission fluid. The OEM cooler is typically built into the radiator tank which is to be cooled down by the radiator coolant.
Will I have to install the transmission cooler with the hose fitting for any certain position?
No. It can be installed with the hose fittings in any convenient position for an easier and more professional looking installation. It is not a matter which fittings on the cooler are used for the inlet and outlet.
Do I have to use an engine oil cooler as well?
You can use the engine oil cooler as an extra option. If you have heavy-duty towing applications like towing a gooseneck trailer or a fifth-wheel trailer, then you can choose to use the oil coolers. The oil cooler uses the same flow-through principle like the transmission cooler. It can be installed in-line with the oil delivery system of the vehicle, then the oil pump drives the oil through that cooler and finally back to the engine. If the vehicle company recommends the oil cooler for towing, then you will need one for that vehicle. To find out more about this, please check the vehicle manufacturer’s manual.
The answers here should be enough to quench your thirst for knowing more about a transmission cooler. You must have realized the fact that the purpose of this component is so simple yet so significant to increase the lifespan and performance of your vehicle. We hope you are left with no real confusion about getting the complete transmission oil cooler kits for your vehicle, but if you do have any, please let us know your queries and we will get back to you as soon as possible.