One of the tools you won’t miss to find in any repair shop or garage is a transmission jack. This powerful multi-lifting system is quite essential when lifting your transmission system during repair or when servicing your vehicle. But, just like any mechanical equipment, a transmission jack can break down unexpectedly following prolonged use. So, to minimize downtime and get back to work quickly, you need to know how to repair a transmission jack.
You see, a transmission jack ensures that your transmission system is removed and transported safely. Although it weighs around 150 pounds, lifting a transmission using your bare hands can be a hefty burden. Imagine holding the transmission on your palms and at the same time locating the dowel pins, keeping the torque converter in place, and threading up the bull housing bolts; it will feel overwhelming right?
For that reason, you need to have a transmission jack in place to cradle the transmission securely and lift it smoothly to ensure installation is done right. So, in this guide, we’ll discuss some of the potential issues that cause a faulty transmission jack and how to troubleshoot them.
But First, What is a Transmission Jack and How Does it Work?
A transmission jack is a hydraulic device that’s tasked to lift or lower a transmission when repairing a vehicle. You see, vehicles come in different types. Some have low clearance while others are lifted. When accessing the transmission, some vehicles will make it extremely hard to access the transmission when the wrong device is used.
For that reason, a transmission jack has become an integral aspect of any vehicle engineering as it offers a smoother way of lifting or lowering the transmission.
Now, transmission jacks come in different variations depending on the lifting requirements. Some of the common types of transmission jacks you’re likely to find in most garages include hydraulic pressure lifts, low-profile jacks, and telescopic types among others. For enthusiast DIYers, there’s a wide range of adapters and useful add-on tools that can be combined to turn a standard jack into a useful transmission jack.
How to Use a Transmission Jack
The process of using a transmission jack is as easy as using any other type of jack. To begin, you have to raise your vehicle to approximately 60 inches in the air using a car lift. When you’re done, position the transmission jack just below your vehicle’s transmission and lift the top plate.
Lift the transmission jack until the top plate bears the weight of the transmission. With the transmission safely held by the top plate, unscrew the bolts to free the transmission from the car’s chassis.
How to Repair a Transmission Jack Properly
- Step One: The Transmission Jack Can’t Load
One of the frequently asked questions about transmission jacks is about the jack failing to load or lift a weight. If this is what you’re experiencing, then there are two possible causes. These include:
- Overloading your jack with a higher weight than what’s is recommended.
- Trapped air inside the system
So, in case your transmission jack is failing, then the first thing you have to do is to check the weight you’re lifting to ensure it’s within the recommended limit.
If that doesn’t help, you can try the second option which is releasing any trapped air inside the system. To do that, twist the handle anticlockwise to open the jack release valve. Pump the handle up and down around 20 times then tighten the release valve back again by twisting it clockwise.
- Step Two: Transmission Jack Fails to Lower After Being Unloaded
There are times when after loading your transmission jack, you notice that it won’t lower. If this is what you’re experiencing, then there are two possible causes.
One of them is the excess hydraulic fluid in the reservoir. When there’s excess fluid in the jack’s reservoir, then this can affect its ability to lower when it’s loaded. To fix this problem, you have to bleed off excess fluid from the jack to remain with the recommended oil level.
Another possible cause is linkage binding. To fix it, you have to first remove the load then lower the jack. From there, clean and lubricate all the moving parts to improve the jack’s efficiency.
- Step Three: The Lift is Performing Poorly
If your jack’s lift is performing poorly, then it means there’s air trapped into the system or the hydraulic fluid is low. So, to repair this issue, you need to inspect these two possible causes and correct them immediately.
For the case of air being trapped into the system, all you have to do is place the unit’s valve in a retracted position to bleed as much air as possible. To do this, simply twist the handle in an anticlockwise direction.
When you’re done, pump the handle multiple times to remove all the excess air. Lastly, twist the handle clockwise to lock the valve.
In case of hydraulic issues, then you need to top it up immediately. To top it up, you have to remove the oil fill plug to inspect the oil chamber. Next, pick your manual to check the recommended oil level. From there, top it up with the recommended oil level as per the manual.
- Step Four: Jack Doesn’t Lift to Full Extension
Again, this issue is caused by a low fluid level in the jack’s oil reservoir. So, to fix this transmission jack problem, you need to add enough hydraulic fluid into the reservoir according to the manual’s recommendation.
- Step Five: Jack Bleeds Off After Use
If your transmission jack starts to bleed off when it’s in use, then it means it has a problem that needs to be rectified immediately. Other than possible leakage, one major problem that can cause a transmission jack to bleed is a possible overload condition.
An overload condition occurs when a transmission jack lifts a weight that’s heavier than its maximum capacity. So, to fix this problem, you need to inspect the load you’re lifting to ensure it doesn’t surpass the maximum capacity.
In case the jack doesn’t surpass the maximum weight limit, then the problem can be caused by possible leakage in the system. In this case, you have to inspect all the jack’s parts to ensure they’re in perfect working order.
- Step Six: Transmission Jack Fails to Hold Entire Load
In most cases, if your transmission jack fails to hold the entire load, then there are three possible causes. One is issues with the release valve, the second one is using contaminated hydraulic oil while the issues of the third cause with the pump valve. Since these issues are quite complex, you need a professional mechanic to repair them.
As you can see, many issues can be pointed to a faulty transmission jack. Since this type of jack is regarded as the backbone of any garage or repair shop, some of these issues are inevitable. Thankfully, this guide has discussed a detailed step-by-step procedure on how to repair your own transmission jack.
But, before it gets to this, it’s good that you take good care of your transmission jack by inspecting the weight it’s lifting and ensuring there’s enough hydraulic fluid in the system. Lastly, you need to check the jack’s manual at all times to ensure that you follow the right maintenance procedure.