Things You Need To Know About A Transmission Cooler

Every entity has a particular load-bearing capacity and a certain tolerance level, whether it is about humans or vehicles. In the case of vehicles, there are also some situations when their capacity and limit are challenged. Like carrying extra weight challenges its capacity that shows symptoms such as overheating the engine or transmission. When it comes to overheating, the role of the transmission cooler comes into play. But to begin the discussion, we will first look at some transmission overheating issues. Generally, the car’s transmission fluid should rest below 170°C. Still, due to some factors, it can increase with an increment of 20°C, leading to overheating, which can cause serious trouble for the transmission. The factors that cause such overheating issues in the transmission are:

  • Heavy Load: Understandably, if the vehicle carries extra weight, it will require extra energy, which can cause excess heat.
  • Stop-and-go Traffic: The stop-and-go style traffic can have a bad impact on transmission cooling that will cause the transmission to overheat.
  • Size and vehicle type: Overheating also depends on this factor. You see that the tow vehicles carry much more weight than the cars and produce much more heat under their hood. Therefore, the cooling system must match the size and type of vehicle.
  • Hot Climates: Hot climates also affect the temperature of your transmission, causing it to overheat externally.

So now the question is, how & what should you do if your transmission starts overheating? Adding a transmission cooler to cool down your transmission is probably the most popular solution you may have come across. But something you heard is not enough for you to get started unless you have good knowledge about the facts related to it, such as – how it works, what considerations to make while choosing one, and finally, how you should install one in your vehicle.

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Transmission Cooler – How It Works

You may have noticed that the transmission oil cooler is a square-shaped component added in the front of the radiator or maybe in the condenser. Its main purpose is to keep the transmission fluid cool and extend the lifespan of your vehicle’s transmission. Its working procedure is fairly simple; we can break that down into the following steps –

  • The heated transmission fluid is transmitted to the radiator.
  • Then the radiator sends the fluid to the transmission cooler.
  • The cooler is associated with a thin component called a fin that responds to the moving air.
  • When the air moves, it causes motion to the fins that lower the temperature of the transmission fluid.
  • After cooling it, the fluid is delivered back to the transmission.
  • This procedure continuously cycles.
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Considerations To Make While Choosing A Transmission Cooler

The right kind of transmission cooler can make a great difference in the performance of your engine, so we should be looking into the considerations to make while choosing one.

  • RPM: Transmissions are responsible for keeping the engine’s Revolution Per Minute (RPM) within the engine’s range to transmit power from the rotations to the drive wheels. During this, a lot of heat is generated, and to keep it low, it is always safe to use the transmission cooler to cool down the moving parts.
  • Decreased amount of fluid in the transmission: The amount of transmission fluid largely affects the performance of the transmission. If the fluid is burned due to the excessive heat, which sometimes even exceeds 200-degree Celsius, then the amount of fluid running through the transmission is decreased. However, that can lead to serious damage to the important moving parts and even the transmission, so it’s always better to use an add-on to get things safer because replacing the transmission would be the last you want as an owner.
  • Extra Precaution: In this case, the saying ‘Prevention is better than cure’ truly applies. Installing a cooler will provide extra protection against the overheating of the transmission, which is why you see it has been used mostly in tow vehicles.
  • Weight Issues: The transmission cooler comes in various sizes and shapes. You are choosing a cooler that matches your vehicle’s gross vehicle weight rating (vehicle crucial in allowing this add-on cooler to operate properly. Perhaps you could investigate a few questions regarding the weight of the vehicle like –
    • How much does your vehicle weigh?
    • How much cargo is it supposed to carry?
    • What is the trailer weight?
    • What is the most weight that it expects to carry?
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These one-liner answers are available on the internet, and you could also consult us by leaving a message if you have any confusion regarding these.

  • Type of Terrain: The terrain is another important factor as it is where most of the towings are done. The transmission overheating depends on whether it will be terrain across the long and flat stretches of highway or the urban area where the stop-and-go traffic happens regularly. The urban or hilly terrains are more likely to cause your engine to overheat, and in such cases, the transmission cooler needs to be an integral part of your vehicle to keep the transmission fluid cool.
  • Mounting Place: It is also important to install the transmission cooler in the right place in the vehicle as it impacts the cooling efficiency.

Installing The Transmission Cooler

After choosing the right cooler, it’s time to install it. The Transmission Oil Cooler comes with all the necessary tools, hardware, and manuals to make it easier to install, even for a DIY mechanic.

First and foremost, you need to find a spot to mount the cooler in the engine compartment. Since there is no specific place, you do have the room for research but two steps generally considered are – behind the bumper, where it would not be that efficient as the airflow will not be enough. The other place is in front of the radiator/air condition condenser, which is the best place to mount the cooler as it can receive a sufficient amount of airflow and stay out of debris like rocks.

Image Source: Toyota RAV4 Forums

As we said earlier, the transmission or engine oil cooler is a thin and square-shaped component capable of getting attached to other components. However, you find the sticking mounting pads with most of the kits that allow the cooler to adhere to the radiator. You can also use the extra mounting rods to insert them between the radiator and the mounting flanges of the cooler. To ensure the smooth delivery of cooling fluid to the transmission from the cooler, you must hook up all the inlet and outlet hoses between them. For best practices, ensure the hoses are kept from the heated or moving parts. Heat will counteract the cooler, and the moving parts can split the line.


To put things simply, we would strongly recommend you to have a transmission cooler as a precaution to keep your transmission away from overheating when things become too hot due to heavy loads or any other, of course, now. Now that you know how it works and how you should choose and install one, we expect you will certainly pay heed to it.

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Mia A Chloe
Author: Mia A Chloe

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