Heat is the Enemy

Flex-a-lite’s Trans Life Oil Cooler Makes Protecting Your Transmission a Piece of Cake

Installing a quality transmission oil cooler in practically any car or truck is quite easy with Flex-a-lite's modular kit designed to mount their small-but-efficient Translife cooler to a Flex-a-fit radiator.

Installing a quality transmission oil cooler in practically any car or truck is quite easy with Flex-a-lite’s modular kit designed to mount their small-but-efficient Translife cooler to a Flex-a-fit radiator.

It’s funny that getting more power out of your engine almost always means generating more heat. After all, unless you are cutting friction, generating more horsepower almost always involves burning more fuel by swapping in a more aggressive cam, or adding a power adder, or porting your cylinder heads so that you can pack more air and fuel into the combustion chambers.

But, unfortunately, heat is also the enemy of mechanical components. Excessive heat breaks down motor oil and other lubricants, and that leads to friction destroying critical (and expensive) parts.

This is just as true for the transmission as it is for the engine. Many don’t think about the need to pull heat from the transmission like they do the engine because the trans isn’t actually burning fuel, but performance driving, hard acceleration and extended periods under load can all generate extreme heat levels in both manual and automatic transmissions.

All oil coolers are not created equally. A quality transmission oil cooler, like this Translife unit shown here--has tubes properly sized to move thicker oil through them efficiently and the proper fin density to match. Flex-a-lite's Translife Oil Cooler (it also works for power steering fluid for you road racers) improves cooling efficiency further by building turbulators inside the lines. The purpose is to cause the fluid to "tumble" inside the lines so that more of it comes into direct contact with the tubing's walls to improve heat transfer.

All oil coolers are not created equally. A quality transmission oil cooler, like this Translife unit shown here-has tubes properly sized to move thicker oil through them efficiently and the proper fin density to match. Flex-a-lite’s Translife Oil Cooler (it also works for power steering fluid for you road racers) improves cooling efficiency further by building turbulators inside the lines. The purpose is to cause the fluid to “tumble” inside the lines so that more of it comes into direct contact with the tubing’s walls to improve heat transfer.

Flex-a-lite's Flex-a-fit Radiators utilize tanks made from this extruded aluminum with T-channels built in. The channels not only help aid in cooling, but they are also excellent for quickly mounting brackets exactly where you need them.

Flex-a-lite’s Flex-a-fit Radiators utilize tanks made from this extruded aluminum with T-channels built in. The channels not only help aid in cooling, but they are also excellent for quickly mounting brackets exactly where you need them.

If heat in your transmission is an issue, you have two options: Drive less aggressively (like that’s going to happen!) or install a transmission cooler. Most street vehicles don’t include a transmission cooler from the factory because OEM cars are designed to meet the minimum requirements for the way the great majority of the population will be driving. That means puttering from stoplight to stoplight and rarely exceeding cruising speed and RPM.

So if you have any plans to take your hot rod to any track days, autocrosses or street/strip duty, odds are you can benefit from a transmission cooler. Flex-a-lite says their tests have shown that a 20-degree drop in transmission fluid temperature can double the life of the transmission’s components. So if you are racing or just doing a lot of hard driving, a cooler is practically mandatory. A trans cooler works just like your engine’s radiator except transmission fluid is pumped through it instead of water and/or coolant.

The time required and complexity of installing a transmission cooler varies greatly depending on the car or truck, as well as the cooler itself. On the simple end, Flex-a-lite has developed one of the most well-designed, adaptable transmission cooler kits we’ve seen.

Flex-a-lite has a wide variety of mounts to install their Translife Transmission Cooler into a variety of vehicles, but we recommend the company’s incredibly popular Flex-a-fit Radiators. Flex-a-fit Radiators use side tanks extruded with T-channels on the outside. The channels work well at dissipating heat but also are ideal as a way to mount the cooler.

Below, we show you how easy it is to install a Translife transmission oil cooler in your car with one of Flex-a-lite’s Flex-a-fit radiators. And just like that, your transmission has the protection it needs to keep from overheating on even the toughest days at the track.

Once you've found the ideal position, you can begin assembling the mounting kit. Flex-a-lite's mounting kit comes in three pieces – two attachment tabs and a center slider so that you can mount the cooler to practically any width Flex-a-fit Radiator.

Once you’ve found the ideal position, you can begin assembling the mounting kit. Flex-a-lite’s mounting kit comes in three pieces – two attachment tabs and a center slider so that you can mount the cooler to practically any width Flex-a-fit Radiator.

If you have to, you can loosen the radiator from its mounts and tilt it back to give yourself more room to work. Insert the mounting kit's T-bolts into the radiator channels in the tank and install the sides of the brackets. The T-bolts allow you to set the height exactly where you want it.

If you have to, you can loosen the radiator from its mounts and tilt it back to give yourself more room to work. Insert the mounting kit’s T-bolts into the radiator channels in the tank and install the sides of the brackets. The T-bolts allow you to set the height exactly where you want it.

 

Protect Your Coolness

Flex-a-lite's new oil cooler guards are sized to fit their Translife Coolers perfectly and add a nice, clean look while also protecting the cooler from debris which can bend the fragile cooling fins.

Flex-a-lite’s new oil cooler guards are sized to fit their Translife Coolers perfectly and add a nice, clean look while also protecting the cooler from debris which can bend the fragile cooling fins.

The best place to mount an oil cooler is in front of the radiator where it will receive maximum airflow. But that means the oil cooler is now also often exposed to the elements, including debris kicked up from the car or truck in front of you. If the cooling fins get bent, that blocks cooling air from travelling between the fins and harm’s the cooler’s efficiency.

To protect your oil cooler, Flex-a-lite has designed a lineup of cooler guards built specifically to fit the Translife Coolers. The guards are fabricated from 1/8-inch aluminum to provide good protection without adding excess weight. A network of holes are punched into the guards that still promote good airflow through the cooler while each is still small enough to keep larger pieces of trash out of the cooler that could potentially damage it.

The guards are fabricated from 1/8-inch aluminum to provide good protection without adding excess weight.

The guards are fabricated from 1/8-inch aluminum to provide good protection without adding excess weight.

They mount up with the same GatorClips used to mount the cooler to the radiator bracket to minimize complexity and can even be painted black for a cool stealth look behind your grille.

 

Source
Flex-a-lite
/ (800) 851-1510 / Flex-a-lite.com

The oil cooler attaches to the center bracket via a set of GatorClips. The GatorClips attach directly to the rigid tubes so that the more fragile fins won't be damaged, which would reduce the cooler's efficiency.

The oil cooler attaches to the center bracket via a set of GatorClips. The GatorClips attach directly to the rigid tubes so that the more fragile fins won’t be damaged, which would reduce the cooler’s efficiency.

In the install shot it can be tough to see exactly how the GatorClips work, so we also included this diagram. Here, you can see the clips not only secure the cooler to the bracket, but they can also be used to attach a guard to the front of the cooler at the same time.

In the install shot it can be tough to see exactly how the GatorClips work, so we also included this diagram. Here, you can see the clips not only secure the cooler to the bracket, but they can also be used to attach a guard to the front of the cooler at the same time.

Once you have both center sections of the brackets attached to the cooler, install the cooler in front of the radiator by attaching the center sections to the sides you've already secured to the radiator. If you need to adjust anything, simply loosen the T-nuts securing the brackets to the radiator and slide them to the position you need.

Once you have both center sections of the brackets attached to the cooler, install the cooler in front of the radiator by attaching the center sections to the sides you’ve already secured to the radiator. If you need to adjust anything, simply loosen the T-nuts securing the brackets to the radiator and slide them to the position you need.

With the cooler in place you are ready to run your lines from the transmission to the cooler. Make sure to secure them to the frame so that they won't rub against moving parts. The Translife Oil Coolers can be had with your choice of either a barbed fitting for rubber hoses (don't forget a hose clamp) or an AN fitting for using -6 lines.

With the cooler in place you are ready to run your lines from the transmission to the cooler. Make sure to secure them to the frame so that they won’t rub against moving parts. The Translife Oil Coolers can be had with your choice of either a barbed fitting for rubber hoses (don’t forget a hose clamp) or an AN fitting for using -6 lines.

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