Q: Pretty new car that’s now broken

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I drive a 2009 Mazda3 with an automatic transmission that recently had the entire transaxle fail. I do not drive aggressive, in fact I am very easy on this car. I don’t know how a piece like this could fail after just 70,000 miles. I am disappointed, this is going to be an expensive repair. What can I do, maintenance wise, in the future to keep this transaxle well maintained?

Hello, having a transmission that fails is definitely one of the more costly repairs. The only maintenance that can be done is replacing the transmission fluid and filter. Most people prefer an automatic transmission that has a smooth shift between each gear. The smooth shift ultimately results in a shorter transmission life. To get that smooth shift the transmission control unit is programmed to let the transmission slip longer and with that comes accelerated wear. What wears is the friction material on a clutch disk. The friction material is only a few thousandths of an inch thick and can be on one or both side of the clutch disc. A clutch pack is made of multiple discs in an alternating pattern of friction disc, steel disk, and friction disc with the number determined by the manufacturer. When the clutch material has worn off the clearance becomes too great and the transmission slips or won’t engage into gear. If the transmission was programmed to give a firmer shift the life would be extended.

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