What Does it Mean When My Jeep Says Transmission Over Temp?


A few months ago, while driving my Jeep, I got the transmission over temp warning

I was a little bit scared, so I called the dealer to have it fixed. 

Afterward, I researched this issue, and this is what I learned. 

Compared to other vehicles, Jeeps appear relatively reliable. However, some models will experience transmission problems from time to time, especially if you neglect regular servicing. 

The guide below addresses the overheating problem, the symptoms, how you can fix and prevent it. 

Continue reading to learn more. 

What Does it Mean When My Jeep Says Transmission Over Temp?

If your Jeep lights up the transmission over temp gauge, it means that the transmission’s fluid temperature is very high. When neglected, this can lead to extensive damage and eventually transmission failure. Check your transmission fluid level and seek out a repair shop right away.

Why Is My Jeep’s Transmission Overheating?

Old Jeeps are more susceptible to transmission overheating than the newer models. 

If the issue arises once, it could be due to seasonal factors like traffic stops or extreme weather conditions. 

But, if the problem keeps occurring, you need to get professional help right away. 

Keep in mind that the maximum ideal transmission temperature is 200 degrees and any 20 degrees above this limit cuts the lifespan of the transmission system by half. 

One main reason why your transmission overheats is the low transmission fluid level. 

The primary role of the transmission fluid is to lubricate parts to minimize friction. 

So when the fluid level gets so low, more friction happens, and eventually increases the temperature within the system. 

A defective solenoid can also lead to transmission overheating since it prevents the fluid from getting into the system. 

If you use the vehicle for heavy towing, the transmission will likely overheat. 

The extra load causes the transmission to work extra harder, which results in overheating. 

So, always check the Jeep’s towing capacity and stick to this. 

Another cause is frequently having your Jeep towed with the drive wheels off the ground. 

Extreme high temperatures can raise the fluid temperature higher than usual. 

Also, a faulty torque converter may cause the Jeep transmission to overheat. 

Poor driving habits can also cause this problem. 

If you shift the gears or step on the accelerator and brake constantly, this can overwork the transmission. 

Starting and stopping the vehicle repeatedly in heavy traffic or driving in a busy town during rush hour may also increase the risk. 

What Other Signs Indicate Transmission Overheating?

Note that heat accounts for 90% of all transmission failures. 

You can thus prevent most transmission problems by spotting early signs of overheating. 

This way, you will fix the issue before it escalates into a more significant problem. 

For instance, if you notice a whining sound coming from the transmission, this might be due to a high fluid temperature that fails to cool the system adequately. 

Also, when the engine light comes on, it could be an early indicator of overheating transmission. 

On the other hand, if you constantly replace the transmission fluid, there could be a leak, and you may want to have this checked by a professional. 

Here are more signs of transmission overheating. 

A Burning Odor

In addition to lubricating, the transmission fluids absorb heat throughout the system to regulate internal temperature. 

It then moves the heat to the radiator, and the coolant allows the heat to flow to the outside. 

However, the transmission fluid’s ability to operate efficiently decreases with age. 

With continued use, the internal structure of the fluid will break down, lowering its ability to minimize friction and draw out heat, and at this point, overheating begins. 

The fluid may even start to burn, producing harsh, unpleasant fumes. 

Once you notice acrid burning smells in your car, it’s a warning that the transmission could be overheating. 

Transmission Slipping

If the transmission begins to slip, this is a sign of dirty, burnt, or low transmission fluid. 

With age, or if the fluid accumulates too much debris, it loses its ability to provide smooth gear shifting. 

The fluid degradation leads to a notable slip-out of gear tendency. 

When this happens, your Jeep’s transmission system will overheat soon. 

Delayed Engagement

Just before you get the transmission over temp warning, you will begin to notice that your car takes quite some time to move or doesn’t move at all when you put the shift to drive or reverse. 

If the system doesn’t have sufficient fluid, the fluid pressure lowers, and you will notice a lag as the transmission struggles to enact your desired gear change. 

At this state, the transmission system is at risk of overheating. 

How Can You Cool Your Transmission?

When your Jeep begins to display the transmission over temp warning, get a safe parking spot and pull over immediately. 

Turn off your car and allow it to cool. This can take up to two hours. 

It’s also crucial that you note what you were doing and where you were when this issue happened. 

Take note of any strange noises to help diagnose the exact cause of the problem. 

Once the vehicle cools down, check the transmission fluid level. 

If it’s low, add more fluid a little at a time until it reaches the right level. 

Turn back the engine on and observe how it operates. 

If you have to continue with your journey, try reducing the load on the vehicle. 

But, if the problem persists even after cooling the car, you might need to tow your Jeep to the nearest repair shop. 

The mechanic will troubleshoot the issue and make the necessary repairs to prevent catastrophic damage to your car. 

How Can You Prevent Transmission Overheating?

The transmission is vital to any car, and it requires proper care to keep it running at optimum efficiency. 

The best way to prevent Jeep overheating problems is by keeping up with regular maintenance. 

Here are easy tips that you can use to prevent the transmission from overheating no matter the weather.

Check the Fluid Level Often

You should check your car’s transmission fluid level at least once a month. 

This way, you can spot issues like low-level or burnt fuel early enough so you can fix them before they damage your transmission system. 

To check the transmission level, park your Jeep on level ground, pull the hood release and open it, then locate the transmission dipstick. 

You can refer to the user manual for this. 

Remove the dipstick tube and wipe it with a clean cloth. 

Reinsert it in the transmission, then remove it. 

Look at the dipstick carefully to determine the fuel level, and it should be between MIN and MAX. 

If it’s below this, add more fluid. Again refer to the user’s guide to determine the right type and level of fluid recommended by the manufacturer. 

While checking the fuel level, be sure to also look under the car for stains that could signify a leak. 

Have a professional repair the leaks, if any. 

Change the Fluid Regularly

You need to change the transmission fluid and filter after covering 30,000 to 60,000 miles, or every 12 to 18 months. 

But, if you drive in a very hot region or haul heavy loads often, replace the transmission fluid more often. 

Over time, the organic compounds in the fluid break down, and it turns to a dark brown or darker color. 

The fluid also becomes thinner which lowers the amount of heat it can draw from the moving parts. 

You can choose to change the fluid yourself or seek professional assistance. 

This reduces the rate of transmission wear, lowering the risks of overheating. 

Maintain the Jeep’s Cooling System

Have a professional inspect the radiator and the entire cooling system from time to time to ensure that it’s in good working conditions. 

Also, ensure that you change the coolant inside the radiator every two years. 

This will help lower the transmission system temperature effectively. 

Install an External Cooling System

Most Jeep owners love to explore various terrains with their vehicles and towing extra loads. 

This increases the strain on the transmission system, especially while driving on hilly or sloped terrain. 

The radiator alone may not adequately cool the car.

In this case, you need to install an external transmission cooler to provide extra cooling power. 

Shift the Transmission to Neutral When Necessary

When you find yourself in a situation requiring you to stop the car for a few minutes, shift the transmission to neutral. 

You can do this as your car sits idle in the traffic light or on congested roads to allow the transmission to cool and ease the strain. 

Jeep’s Transmission Over Temp

An overheating transmission is the worst nightmare that any Jeep owner could ever face. 

The high temperatures can cause carbon deposits on vital car parts, which disrupts their operations. 

Also, when overheated, the transmission fluid won’t cool your vehicle or lubricate the parts adequately, which can cause wear on multiple components. 

So do not drive your car in this state. 

Instead, seek professional inspection and repair services as soon as possible. 

With proper care and maintenance, you can avoid transmission heating issues. 

Kern Campbell

I've had a passion for four-wheel-drive vehicles since I was a kid riding in the back seat of my Grandfather's Jeep Grand Wagoneer. I have owned a lot of vehicles over the years. They each have their pros and cons and I look forward to sharing my knowledge with you so you can find the vehicle that's just right for your needs.

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