If you are having transmission problems, don’t despair, it may not be a major issue. We have seen numerous times when a customer comes to us in a panic, expecting the worst because of a shifting problem. Then, after inspecting the vehicle, we find the problem was NOT a major problem.
Transmission Repairs and Rebuilding CAN be very expensive, sometimes several $1,000’s. HOWEVER, there are many minor causes of transmission problems that might scare you needlessly. Here are just a few that we have seen that could be at the root of your transmission or shifting problem.
NON-Major repairs that could be causing transmission troubles:
- Transmission Fluid Leaks / Low Fluid Level: Your vehicle may have a small or large leak of the Transmission Fluid. There are a few causes of this and the fix can often be quite affordable.
- Vacuum Lines that have come out or loose: When this happens usually, your transmission won’t shift at all. Of course, a non-shifting transmission can scare you, but if this is the cause, the cure is not painful at all.
- Linkages and/or cables that have come loose or out of adjustment: These run from the transmission to the throttle body. If one comes out of adjustment, you may experience shifting issues such as no shifting, hard shifting or late shifting.
- Bad Solenoid: The transmission contains shifting solenoids inside (and on some models, outside). The symptoms from this transmission problem cause a wide array of shifting problems like not shifting into particular gears. Usually, a bad solenoid gives problems with specific gears or sets of gears like 1st, 2nd and 3rd.
- Your Car’s Computer problems: Today’s cars all have computers in them to help coordinate all the functions in the car. But the computers can develop problems and seem to cause you transmission problems. Symptoms from a computer problem range from no shifting to erratic shifting.
- Sensor defects: Each car has sensors that help tell the transmission when to shift. Fixing this problem is much easier and more affordable than a new transmission.
- Bad Fluid: There are occasions that a fluid flush and change fix your transmission problems. In fact, we often like to do this to see if it solves the problem affordably. However, if we find that it doesn’t help, we remove the charges if we do a major transmission repair or rebuild. It’s often a smarter first step because it MAY fix the problem.
Transmission troubles due to bad fluid
Transmission problems due to prolonged bad fluid often results in major damage. The purpose of the transmission fluid is to protect the internal parts from damage by cooling and lubricating helping to keep it operating smoothly and efficiently. However, just like motor oil, transmission fluid breaks down with time and use. Once transmission fluid loses its properties to protect the inside of the transmission, your transmission degrades quickly.
Usually when you have transmission problems due to neglected fluid, the problem is severe and expensive to repair. That is why it is less expensive to perform periodic Transmission Flushes. Because seals start to harden inside, this causes delays going into gear, shifting issues, and eventually (or sometimes suddenly) complete internal transmission breakdown.
How often should transmission fluid be flushed and changed?
Your car’s owner manual lists the recommended service intervals. These are the minimums that the manufacturer requires so you remain covered under the warranty period. It’s important to point out that the manufacturer has a balancing act when they specify these intervals. On one hand they want you to protect the transmission from problems so they don’t have to pay excessively for repairs. On the other hand they don’t want to be known for requiring services at intervals that are too frequent. The latter issue causes damage to sales appeals.
There is a difference in Transmission Flush Services
Many auto repair shops and specialty shops do not perform a thorough transmission flush service. They simply drain some of the old fluid and add back in new fluid. Certainly this is better than only old neglected fluid, but it only helps a little.
What is needed is to completely flush out the old fluid from the transmission, then replace it with the right fluid and top it off with a transmission fluid additive that adds extra protection. The way we usually do this is by adding a special flushing fluid that increases the temperature of the fluid. This helps suspend contaminants that are adhering to the walls of the transmission.
Most automatic transmissions still have a filters or screens that need replacing or cleaning when serviced. These filters or screens usually are only accessible by removing the transmissions oil pan (a normal procedure with a complete service) with a thorough inspection of the inside. The oil pan has a magnet placed at the bottom to help attract any loose debris that can commonly wear. The magnet should be inspected and cleaned, the filter should be replaced and the screen should be cleaned, then the pan gasket can be replaced and new fluid added to the system
Just as with your engine’s oil change, the oil filter needs to be changed. Not changing the filter or cleaning the screen can reduce your transmission fluid flow and increase temperatures quickly. Also, by performing a visual inspection inside the oil pan, we have the ability to catch major problems before they occur, potentially saving customer’s thousands of dollars.
Think of a full dirty bathtub with a ring around it. Just draining most of the water and replacing the drained water with clean water does not give you a clean bathtub. It’s similar with your transmission. Our process is like circulating clean, hot water through the bathtub until the water and the tub is clean. THEN, we add in new water.
Here are a few things you can do to help reduce heat, and keep your transmission working longer:
- Avoid Jackrabbit Starts — Hard accelerations create a lot of friction and heat in the transmission. Take it easyon the gas and your transmission will live longer.
- Help the Shift — Most of the friction and wear in the transmission takes place during the shifts. Get to know when your transmission shifts normally. Then, just before the shift, back off on the gas just a bit. That’llreduce the load on the interior components, and eliminate much of the friction during the shift.
- Keep the Cooling System in Good Shape — Most car’s radiator also provides cooling for your transmission.And heat damage will take place in the transmission long before the engine appears to overheat. So regularcooling system service can help your transmission run cooler… and last longer.
- Add an external Transmission Cooler — If you travel a lot in extremely high temperatures or carry a lot of weight inyour car, an auxiliary transmission cooler is a great way to reduce heat and add years to your transmission’slife.
Camarillo Car Care is your best solution for transmission service and repair for Camarillo.
If you live or work in Camarillo or surrounding areas, you’re lucky. Camarillo Car Care is an established AAA Approved Auto Repair shop for over 23 years. The company employs all ASE Certified Technicians, some of the best in the area. The company is the only ASE Blue Seal of Excellence Repair Facility in Camarillo. We have strong alliances with transmission vendors and this allows us to give you a variety of great choices for Transmission Rebuilding, Re-manufacturing or Repairs.