Transmission Temperature Gauge: A Brief Guide

A big problem that can shorten the life of a transmission is overheating, so it’s up to you to make sure it doesn’t happen. It is estimated that around 90% of automatic transmission failures are caused by transmission overheating alone, and the main reason transmissions overheat is because of overworked transmission fluid. Fluid that has outlived its usefulness or has to work in high heat is less efficient at providing the many functions it was intended for, such as lubrication, fluid pressure, and cooling. Heat and age are mainly what causes transmission fluid to degrade, and this only leads to more overheating.

The ideal range for fluid temperature is between 175 and 225 degrees, and every 20 degree drop in fluid temperature can help to double the life of your transmission. But there’s no way to tell how hot a transmission is you might say, or is there? Actually there is, and that’s exactly what a transmission temperature gauge is for.

transmission temperature gauge - transmission fluid life expectancy

Transmission Temperature Gauge: A Brief Guide

auto meter transmission temperature gaugeInstalling a transmission temp gauge as well as a dedicated transmission cooler are the best ways to prevent overheating. With a temperature gauge, you’ll be able to keep track of the transmission’s operating temperature by measuring the transmission fluid’s temperature. This will give you vital signs of when you’re working your transmission too hard, and can warn you when excessive heat is possibly ruining the transmission fluid or damaging the transmission. This could potentially save you from costly repairs in the future and ensures that your transmission is working at peak efficiency.

Most transmission temp gauge kits will come with everything you’ll need to install it correctly, including the sending unit, mounting hardware, terminals, and installation instructions. Some kits might not provide wire however so make sure you check beforehand. The sending unit is what will measure the transmission fluid’s temperature and there are two common installations that won’t require welding: either through the transmission test port or the stock sensor location. Of course, you could also weld the sensor to the transmission pan itself, which will require drilling a hole first.

Best Transmission Temperature Gauge Comparison

Our comparison chart includes the best transmission temperature gauges in our opinion, factoring in things such as fast and accurate readings, reliability, durability, temperature range, price, and extra functions. For our list, we’ve included transmission temp gauges from well known automotive accessory companies such as Auto Meter, GlowShift, and Derale.

Temperature GaugeGauge Size (inches)Range (Fahrenheit)FeaturesPriceRating
MaxTow Transmission Temperature Gauge
MaxTow Transmission Temperature Gauge
2 1/1680 to 260- LED Display
- Analog and Digital Readings
- Dimmer function
$$4.4
Auto Meter 2640 Z-Series Electric Transmission Temperature Gauge
Auto Meter 2640 Z-Series Electric Transmission Temperature Gauge
2 1/16100 to 250- Extreme accuracy
- All black factory design
$4.6
Auto Meter 4357 Ultra-Lite Electric Transmission Temperature Gauge
Auto Meter 4357 Ultra-Lite Electric Transmission Temperature Gauge
2 1/16100 to 250- Extreme accuracy
- All white factory design
$4.8
GlowShift Tinted 7 Color Transmission Temperature Gauge
GlowShift Tinted 7 Color Transmission Temperature
2 1/16100 to 300- LED Display
- 7 Solid Color Settings
- Dimmer Function
$4.2
GlowShift Digital LED Transmission Temperature Gauge
GlowShift Blue Digital LED Transmission Temperature Gauge
2 1/1668 to 302- LED Display
- Low profile
- Digital reading
$4.0
Derale 13009 Oil Temperature Gauge Kit
Derale 13009 Transmission Temperature Gauge
2 5/8140 to 300- Can be used for transmission OR engine oil$4.5

You can also find more transmission temperature gauges here.

How to Install a Transmission Temperature Gauge

For a step-by-step guide on how to install a transmission temperature gauge, visit this page.