How Prognostics Systems Impact Transmission Maintenance

Most technicians and truck owners agree that routine preventive maintenance saves time and money in the long run. The preventive maintenance is typically performed based on accumulated mileage or hours of operation. With usually only two maintenance schedule options — normal or severe duty — the technician must choose the one that best suits the truck’s needs.

2016-12_mitchell-1-engine-technician-with-tablet_l4a4075While this is a standard in general practice, it doesn’t answer the question: What if the truck has multiple uses and needs an adjusted maintenance schedule? With advancements in technology, truck manufacturers began offering integrated alert systems. These modern alert systems can take the guesswork out of when a system should be serviced.

Around 2009, manufacturers offered prognostics for some of their transmission models. In short, prognostics systems notify the technician or driver of an upcoming service need or interval based on gathered data about the vehicle in real-world driving conditions.

Does the vehicle drive long hauls? The prognostics will recognize this and make adjustments to the preventive maintenance schedule. Does the vehicle perform a lot of stop-and-go driving? Again, the newer prognostics systems will make the calculations accordingly.

Some transmissions require specific fluids and extended life filters that align with the prognostic software. It is imperative that these requirements are followed to get the most out of the prognostic software and to keep the truck in optimum operating condition.

Transmission maintenance information is also included in truck repair information software like TruckSeries from Mitchell 1. As an example, Figure 1 is a screenshot from the Repair Module showing different transmission maintenance service options depending on whether or not prognostics is equipped on the truck.

Figure 1 Transmission maintenance options (Click image to expand to full size)

Figure 1 Transmission maintenance options (click image to expand to full size)

Trucks not equipped with prognostics will continue to be serviced at fixed intervals and may ultimately cost more to maintain. Truck and fleet owners will have to weigh the benefits of having the added feature and its cost. As a general rule, a fluid analysis test is the most accurate method of determining the correct fluid change interval on trucks with or without transmission prognostics. This test allows for a complete analysis of the composition of the oil to determine an optimal interval for service.

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About the Author

David Price

David has over 20 years’ experience in automotive and heavy truck diagnostics. He studied automotive technology at Cuyamaca College and California Institute of Automotive Technology and has obtained L1, A6, A8 ASE certifications, along with a smog license. He joined the Mitchell 1 commercial vehicle editorial group in 2016 as part of the RepairConnect product team.