Do I Need To Install A Transmission Cooler?
There are a number of benefits to using a transmission cooler on your car, truck, or SUV. The biggest benefit is that a transmission cooler will help do what it name indicates, which is cool your transmission.
More often than not, most vehicles can utilize a transmission cooler to help prolong the life of their transmission. There are different types of transmission coolers, and each one comes in different shapes, sizes, and has their own benefit. Installing a transmission cooler, no matter the type will help keep your transmission cooler, and last longer.
Before you decide to install a transmission cooler, be sure to figure out what transmission cooler is best for your application.
Transmission Cooler Mounting Position
When installing a transmission cooler, it is typically recommended to mount it in a location that gets a significant amount of airflow. Based on this, the best place to mount a cooler would be in front of the air conditioning condenser. This position will allow the trans cooler to get ample air flow while moving in addition to getting air from the engine’s cooling fans when stopped.
When installing a transmission cooler on the condenser, using a transmission cooler mounting kit will make the process easy and hassle free. The mounting kits come with heady duty plastic zip ties and rubber spacers. The spacers are used to space the cooler from the condenser to prevent direct contact between the two. You can find transmission mounting kits here.
In some applications however, it may be best to have a remote mounted transmission cooler that utilizes a fan to help cool the fluid. This is typically found in more extreme applications such as those who drag race for example.
Where ever your cooler is mounted, it needs to get enough air flow to help keep the fluid cool.
Should I Bypass My Radiator When Installing An External Transmission Cooler?
A common question we get asked is whether you should bypass the radiator with your external transmission cooler. The answer to this is, it depends the condition your vehicle is facing.
If you live in a very warm area, it may be better to bypass the factory transmission cooler in the radiator in favor of a larger, external transmission cooler. Reason being, the radiator can act as a heater and warm the transmission fluid much higher than what you would like, especially if you face a lot of stop and go traffic or other harsh driving conditions.
It is recommended however to keep the factory radiator transmission cooler and use and external cooler if you live in a cooler climate. The factory cooler will help get the transmission temperature into a suitable range. When it comes to cooling your transmission, you can actually over cool it, and it may not be able to flow as well compared to warmer fluid.
Transmission Cooler Line Path
When installing your new transmission cooler, it is important to figure out not only where you will mount it, but how to run the lines. In most applications where the cooler is used with the factory transmission cooler, you will need to route transmission lines from the radiator to the external cooler.
The below transmission cooler installation diagram shows how the fluid will be routed through a new external cooler.
You will need to determine which line is the return for the transmission. You want the already warm fluid to flow into the external cooler to help better control fluid temperatures, so the flow path will look something like this:
transmission out > radiator cooler in > radiator cooler out > transmission cooler in > transmission cooler out > transmission in.
If you plan to use rubber transmission hose and keep the stock cooler lines, you need to connect the cooler return line to your vehicle’s return line. In most cases you’ll need to make a cut to the factory line and connect the new rubber line to it. This can be done with a double sided barb fitting, or by flaring the metal line and then clamping the new rubber hose to it.
Transmission Cooler Installation Cost
Aside from the purchase of a transmission cooler, additional costs may come from additional materials such as transmission fluid, transmission hose, clamps, fittings, and mounting pieces. A number of transmission coolers come with installation kits that contain most of these items aside from fluid. However, it is recommended to figure out what you need before buying a complete kit. Most transmission cooler installation kits may not be 100% complete for your application, so it would be best to assess what you need and what is included.
If you were to just purchase the cooler then source the additional parts needed, there would not be much of an additional cost.
If you have a greater need for custom lines and AN fittings, then the cost will certainly increase. While installing basic rubber lines might work for most, in some cases, your vehicle may need custom lines, which are more costly than basic lines.
Depending on the cooler you purchase and your lines, you can spend as little as $20 extra to install a cooler, or in some cases, as much as $150 or more. Ultimately, the cost to install a transmission cooler is dependent on what your needs are.
When installing a transmission cooler in your car, truck or SUV, it is important to consider not only the cooler size, but where to mount it, and how to run the lines. Mounting a transmission cooler is typically best in front of the air conditioning condenser so it gets ample air flow, which will help keep temperatures low.
In addition, having the right parts to install a transmission makes the process easier. Many trans cooler come with installation kits that contain rubber hose, clamps, fittings, and mounting hardware. While this is great, it is best to remember that these are universal kits that may not contain exactly what you need. When you install your cooler, you will need to account for the need for more fluid based on the increased capacity of the system.
A transmission cooler will not only help keep your fluid cooler, but improve the longevity of your transmission. For a small investment, you can save thousands in repairs needed for an overheated transmission.