When it comes to BMW maintenance (or maintaining any German car you may own), we often don’t react until something goes wrong. Mostly, we jump into our cars every morning, do the school run, and get to the office as fast as possible, almost subconsciously. It’s only when that first jerk, squeak or strange smell makes itself known that we’re snapped out of our stupor and pay closer attention.
It’s this “driving oblivion” that is often the source of bad driving habits, and some of the most damaging habits are those which affect your transmission. With the option of manual, automatic, and dual-clutch transmissions, there are a many ways in which these transmissions can be misused. Let’s take a closer look into what these are and why they’re detrimental for your car.
We’ll get the stick shift offenders out of the way first (well, the few of them that are left, considering that less than 3% of new cars sold in America require the use of your left leg…). As cool and nonchalant as you may look resting your hand on the shifter, this seemingly innocent action can cause the shift forks attached to the control rod (the fork helps to engage gears smoothly) to wear out a lot sooner than it should. The worst-case scenario could see you snapping a selector fork. A surprisingly common habit is also the case of depressing the clutch when stationary, causing accelerated wear on what is an expensive component. Instead, make sure you shift into neutral when stopping for lengthy periods.
The main rule here is not to coast along in neutral. Not only do you relinquish full control of your car, but the unnecessary shifting will cause avoidable wear and tear in the long run. In the bustle of daily life, many drivers also neglect to fully stop their vehicles before shifting from reverse into drive, and vice versa. By not stopping completely, the transmission is taking on a role it was never intended to: braking. The end result is, once more, accelerated wear. Once you understand exactly how your automatic transmission works, you’ll see why these habits are so damaging.
CVTs (Continuously Variable Transmissions)
Found on some Audis, CVTs are not our favorite transmission type when it comes to ultimate driving enjoyment. However, they are as convenient as an auto, and the same rules that apply there (avoiding shifting into neutral unless required) hold true here.
Whatever you call it (M-DCT if you own a certain BMW or PDK in Porsche land), dual-clutch transmissions are here to stay. They offer the best of both worlds, with some of the interactivity of a manual paired with the convenience of a regular auto. Such driving nirvana does however mean that these ‘boxes are complex engineering feats, and need to be treated well. First off, never let your dual-clutch car “hover” on an incline without engaging the brake. If you do this, the clutch pack will continue to spin, producing unnecessary heat and friction. Like a manual, you’ll also want to try to avoid inching forward in traffic, as this will increase clutch wear – instead, wait for a bigger gap to allow for full clutch engagement.
With just a few of these simple adjustments, you can significantly increase the lifespan of your vehicle’s transmission.