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How To Extend The Life Of An RV Transmission

One of the best inventions in the automotive industry is the RV. It’s a great vehicle to explore the outdoors with friends and families. Like any other car, a major component that keeps the RV running smoothly on the road is the transmission.

Without it, your RV would not operate. At the same time, you need to properly maintain your RV’s transmission to extend its lifespan and enhance your vehicle’s performance.

Article sponsored by Car Part Planet – Engines, Transmissions, and More…

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7 Ways To Extend The Life Of An RV Transmission

Read on to find the various measures you can take to extend the life of your RV transmission.

Avoid Overheating

Heat can be problematic for your RV transmission. As such, you must do your best to avoid putting it under unnecessary stress. Whether driving on a hot day or towing a car behind your RV, you risk your RV transmission overheating.

Understandably, most people take their RVs on a trip during summer. This can make it almost impossible to avoid the heat – but you can still prevent it from overheating.

  1. One way to keep your RV cool is by parking in the shade when taking a break from driving.
  2. Try to use the lower gear, especially when going uphill.
  3. Keep an eye on the engine’s temperature gauge. If you notice it’s getting too hot, pull over and allow your RV cool down. Doing this will help you avoid the costly expenses associated with premature transmission failure.

Check the Fluid Levels Regularly

Hand pulling a vehicle dip stick
Regularly check on your transmission fluid levels and the color.

Transmission fluid helps lubricate the gears and keep them cool. But the more you drive the RV, the more this fluid becomes contaminated. Clean transmission fluid has a reddish translucent color. Change it if it appears rusty or dirty with tiny metal shavings. Dirty fluid can’t lubricate the gear as needed, affecting the engine’s performance.

RV transmission fluid typically only needs to be changed every 30,000 miles. It should be noted however, if you have a GM 6L80 transmission, you must change the transmission fluid after 3 to 6 months and clean the transmission yearly. 

When changing the transmission fluid, do not put too much in the system to avoid damaging the gaskets and seals. Be sure that you are using the right transmission fluid for your system.

Bottom line: stick to the RV transmission fluid recommended by the manufacturer and top off to the correct fluid level.

Service the Transmission Every 30,000 Miles

An RV transmission can last more than 250,000 miles when well maintained. Considering that your RV is not your everyday vehicle (unless you’re a full-time RVer always on the move), it allows your car to last for more than a decade! If you drive your RV a lot – say between 10 to 15,000 miles a year – you need to service the transmission every two years.

When you go in for RV maintenance, the mechanic will check if the RV transmission is still in great shape. At the same time, they will change the transmission fluid, clean the pan, and then pour in clean fluid. This simple service will cost you between $60 and 100 but will go a long way in extending the lifespan of your transmission. And if you want to eliminate that cost entirely, learn how to do this yourself.

Avoid Stop-and-Go Traffic

Bumper to bumper traffic on a highway
Gridlock traffic isn’t just annoying – it can be hard on your RV’s transmission.

If possible, avoid sudden starts or stops. These movements will only strain your transmission unnecessarily, leading to premature wear and tear. Each time you stop suddenly, the transmission shifts from moving to stopping. Constant jerky movements will eventually cause your RV transmission to wear out. You’ll find that you need to take your RV for transmission repair earlier than you expected.  

This is particularly tricky on automatic transmissions using hydraulic fluid to shift gear. With time, the fluid will start breaking down, making it hard for the transmission to shift correctly. If you are stuck in stop-and-go traffic, shift to a lower gear. This prevents the transmission from being overworked.

Upgrade to Synthetic Fluid

Synthetic fluid is better than normal fluid when it comes to extending the lifespan of your RV transmission. For starters, synthetic is better at resisting heat, cold, shearing, and oxidation. Heat easily breaks down the organic compounds in ordinary fluid, making it less effective. If you want your RV transmission to last longer, go with synthetic fluid. Even if your transmission has aged, switching to synthetic will still help it maintain great performance.

Most manufacturers have started replacing conventional fluids with synthetic oil – with good reason! It’s also worth remembering that high-quality time fluid should be used at all times because it will protect your car’s transmission.

Synthetic oils also offer the following advantages:

  • Greater engine protection. Consider that a car’s engine parts move at high speeds and are always in contact with one another. In extreme environments, those engine components can wear down. Your motor oil is the only thing providing a protective element between those moving parts. Unlike synthetic blends or conventional oils, fully synthetic oils won’t break down and will protect your engine for longer—sometimes as much as 250,000 miles.

Maintain the Radiator

Your RV’s radiator is in charge of cooling the engine because heat can easily damage the transmission(see point 1). As you continue driving your RV, the radiator’s performance is bound to decline. Every two years, go to an auto repair shop for a maintenance check. The mechanic will inspect the coolant levels, hoses, and belts and change the antifreeze. These checks will help extend the life of your RV transmission.

Don’t Ignore Warning Signs

Close up view of a check engine light
Never ignore the check engine light in your RV.

If you suspect you need to have your transmission checked, go to the mechanic. Some signs of a faulty transmission include:

  • Laking fluid
  • A burning smell
  • A check engine light appearing.

If you notice any of these signs, don’t wait it out! The damage will only worsen, and you’ll spend more money eventually. Visit a mechanic who will pinpoint the problem and fix it so your RV will be ready for your trip.


A well-maintained transmission will need fewer repairs and save you money in the long run. Use the tips mentioned above to keep your RV transmission running for a long time.

Car Part Planet is a one-stop shop for all of your drivetrain replacement needs. Whether you are looking for a used engine, remanufactured engine, used transmission, remanufactured transmission, or just some friendly advice on your DIY replacement project, they’ve got you covered.

Now that you know how to keep your RV’s tranmission running smoothly, we hope that you spend more time out on the road and less time on the side of it. Let us know if you’ve ever had RV transmission problems in the comments.

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