PML Transmission Pan Install
In today’s world, not all of us can afford to buy a new truck every couple of years, so we need to maintain and maybe upgrade what we already have. Two of the most overlooked things on our tow vehicles are the transmission and differentials. So how do we maintain and/or improve on what the factory has already done?
To start with, we should service these vehicles more often than the manufacturer recommends if we are towing a heavy load. You can add some oil additives such as those that Lucas Oil Products offers, which I do recommend (www.lucasoil.com).
Having been in the automotive industry my whole adult life, I have seen Lucas Oil do miracles, but probably the best way to add to the life of your transmission is to keep the temperature down by adding more oil capacity. The reason for more oil is simple: with a bigger capacity the oil will run cooler. We all know that heat kills everything. The oil viscosity, transmission bands, seals and clutches all get worn by the high temperatures and before you know it you need a rebuild. So how can we add more capacity?
One way to add more oil to the transmission is to put an aluminum oversized pan on it from PML Incorporated. These sand-cast aluminum pans are extra thick and feature machined gasket surfaces to help with gasket sealing. With the raised cooling fins on the outside and the extra capacity, people have noticed that the fluid is 10 to 30 degrees cooler than before, helping the life expectancy of your transmission. These pans have magnetic drain plugs to make servicing easier--plus they look really cool!!!
While I was working on this story, one of my friends and writers Darryl Skelton said he was working with PML to make a transmission pan for his Nissan Titan, and this is what he told me after meeting the owner of PML:
“I met the owner, Dave Tolin, at his shop for final fit-up. First, Dave does the whole cover thing as a side business to his larger precision measuring and machining business. A few years ago, he was restoring a Cadillac and found he couldn’t get nice aftermarket valve covers or trans pans for his car, so he made them himself! He and his staff are very knowledgeable and friendly—I should know, I have been bugging them for a while.
“Dave said that with their trans pans you can expect a 10 to 20 degree drop in trans temps and based on the couple of studies I have seen, even 10 degrees is a huge improvement in fluid life. Most manufacturers ignore the transmission as part of the normal service and just make sure that the trans will last until the warranty period is over. If you are towing, you should be changing your fluid every year or 15,000 miles, not at 60K, 70K or (laughing to myself) 100K that your manual recommends. If you wait until then, your fluid change will come with a transmission replacement/overhaul.
“I was very impressed by Dave and his products. The trans pan is not a lightweight throwaway product. It is built to stand up to abuse and made to last. This is why I’m not too worried about the pan sitting a little lower than the cross member. The flanges were thick and straight. The casting itself is also thicker than most and the pan was a bit heavy. He uses good hardware on all of his products. (I usually throw away the hardware I get with most bolt-on parts I buy because they are junk and rust out). It’s nice to open a box and get stainless bolts and washers.
“My truck now holds an extra 3 ½ quarts of fluid and has a trick look cover and I couldn’t be happier.”
The install was easy. PML gives you simple instructions to follow and supplies you with new allen head bolts and washers. If you do it yourself at home it shouldn’t take you more than an hour or so each to change the transmission pan and/or your differential cover. You will need to get a gasket/filter kit for the transmission and RTV silicone for your differential gasket. If you do have a local mechanic who does your servicing he shouldn’t charge you much extra to change the pans during your regular maintenance visit.
My 2003 Chevrolet 2500 HD 4x4 does not have a front differential cover but I still changed the fluids in that and my transfer case. I used Lucas Oil Products in all of them because, as I said earlier, I have seen these lubricating oils do amazing things. I must say I feel better now knowing that I have done improvements to my truck that I know will help prolong its life.
To help out your tow vehicle, check out PML Incorporated at www.yourcovers.com to see all the transmission pans, differential covers and valve covers they have to offer.
And, as always, tell them ToyHauler Magazine sent you.
I would also like to thank Greg Crew www.gotlucasoil.com and Lucas Oil www.lucasoil.com for supplying me with my oils of choice.