The Importance of a Well-Maintained Transmission
The transmission in a motor vehicle is one of the most essential systems within your vehicle. The transmission is a crucial engine component that contains several gears that convert the power generated in the engine into torque, the force that rotates the wheels and additional elements around the axle. Essentially, the transmission is the key part of the engine that makes the vehicle move. Because it plays such a necessary part in the proper operation of a motor vehicle, it is absolutely vital that the transmission is not only consistently maintained, but taken to a transmission shop for any and all transmission repairs.
Transmission maintenance, repair, fluid change, and flush are all common operations that need to be performed by a transmission shop and handled by professional mechanics. Staying on top of each of these common transmission maintenance tasks helps the vehicle last longer, drive and shift smoothly, and helps prevent a major breakdown. If the transmission and shifting start to malfunction, it can be disastrous for the life of a vehicle and very costly for the vehicle owner. Bringing a vehicle to a transmission shop for a transmission repair is essential and should be done as soon as there are any signs of a malfunction.
When It’s Time to Go to the Transmission Shop
Your vehicle will give you signs that it needs to be taken to a transmission shop, though you should not always wait for a light on the dashboard to tell you. Some of the most common signals to look for in a malfunction in your transmission are:
- Rough shifting between gears
- A shaking steering wheel while driving
- A foul, burning smell
- Gears slipping
- Loud thudding or clunking noises
- A rough ride or bumpy acceleration
These are all some pretty hefty indicators that your transmission needs to be examined by a transmission shop mechanic and may need repair. While these can be indications that your transmission fluid needs to be replaced, have some routine maintenance done, or a transmission flush, any one of them could also be a sign of a more serious problem that requires attention.
Because transmission repair is such a delicate and important part of car repair, it is vital that you have your vehicle repaired by an ASE-certified mechanic that has experience and knowledge of transmission repair. You know your vehicle best and how it should be operating, so as soon as you suspect that something is not quite right, you should get your vehicle into a transmission shop as soon as possible.
Common Transmission Repairs and Maintenances
Now that you know the signs of a possible transmission malfunction, here are some various repairs that are performed for transmission issues. These are some of the things you can potentially expect when you bring your vehicle in for a transmission repair to a transmission shop.
Transmission Fluid Change
There are many different fluids under the hood of your motor vehicle that all have specific functions and tasks. While some ensure temperature regulation for the engine or clean the windshield, others, like the transmission fluid, help lubricate the metal components of the transmission. This all-important fluid allows the transmission to shift and operate smoothly without experiencing friction while moving up and down between the gears.
As the transmission fluid is used over time, small bits of debris build up in the fluid, losing its ability to properly lubricate the gears. This buildup leads to harmful friction between the metal components of the transmission box and can cause a hard transition from one gear to another. Not only will transmission fluid gather this buildup of particles and debris, it will also break down over time and become much less effective in aiding in the movement as it shifts between gears.
While most vehicle owners know that the engine oil needs to be regularly replaced, many are unaware that their transmission fluid needs replacing from time to time as well. This process is referred to as a transmission fluid flush, in which the old transmission fluid is drained from the transmission box and replaced with new fluid.
Replacing the transmission fluid in your vehicle can greatly increase the longevity of your transmission and improve the quality of your vehicle’s operation. While the timing between transmission fluid changes will vary slightly for each vehicle, any of the symptoms above could indicate that it is time for a fluid change.
Some other signs indicating the need for a transmission fluid change could include:
- Puddles under your vehicle
- Color changing from a clear color to a darker brown
- Loud groaning sounds
- Clattering noises
- Dashboard indicator is on
- Difficulty shifting from one gear to another
If any of these are occurring, it is likely time to perform a transmission fluid change.
Another reason to get a transmission fluid change or a transmission flush is because of a low transmission fluid level caused by a leak in the transmission box. Your transmission box undergoes a good deal of movement that can sometimes cause a break in the seal, resulting in a transmission fluid leak. Resealing the transmission box can help fill in any small leaks that have occurred over the life of your vehicle and helps contain the essential transmission fluid inside the transmission box.
Leaky transmission boxes are a fairly common occurrence and can be found in every motor vehicle. The most common sign of a leaky transmission box is finding puddles underneath your vehicle. Most of the time, this will be a clear, viscous liquid that puddles right under the engine of the vehicle. If you notice this occurring regularly, it is time to head to the transmission shop and have a mechanic take a look at your transmission.
Replacing a Defective Solenoid
Another common transmission repair is replacing a defective solenoid. Though only a small part within the transmission, the solenoid plays a major role in the function of a transmission. Essentially, it is a small electromechanical valve that controls the flow of transmission fluid. Powered by the transmission computer, the solenoid operates by opening and closing, allowing transmission fluid to circulate. The transmission solenoid is typically found in automatic transmissions.
A transmission solenoid can malfunction for several reasons including an electrical error, dirty or debris-filled transmission fluid, or the valve becoming stuck in an open or closed position. These can result in problems such as a failure to downshift, sporadic shifting, or shifting delays. Any of these issues can cause severe damage to the transmission and engine and require immediate attention from a qualified transmission shop.
While replacing a transmission solenoid is a simple repair and typically not too costly, it is vital to replace a defective solenoid as soon as any sign of a malfunction is noticed. If your vehicle has started to slip while changing gears, will not downshift, or has any of the symptoms of a defective solenoid, it is recommended to bring your vehicle into your nearest Driver’s Edge location right away.
Replacing Worn Out Parts
As a transmission performs its daily movements, smaller pieces and parts will wear down and eventually give out. It is important to replace these parts before they lead to major issues that can prove to be much more costly to repair. By having our transmission shop replace these minor parts before they fully give out, you can help keep your transmission in good operation and prevent major repairs that require more labor or expensive parts.
Adjusting or Replacing a Throttle Cable
Though it is not a direct component of the transmission, a throttle cable is often replaced by a transmission shop because it functions as the connection between the pedal and the and the engine and is directly related to the acceleration of the motor vehicle. This small, but essential part is a braided metal cable held by tension to adjust the flow of fuel to the engine. When the pedal is pushed, the throttle cable is pulled, causing the vehicle to accelerate.
Over time, this cable stretches and can require a slight adjustment or replacement. Left unadjusted, this cable can cause the engine to receive the incorrect amount of fuel, which can strain both the engine and the transmission in particular. This stress on the transmission can lead to some larger issues that could require a major repair by a mechanic.
While most of the above repairs or maintenance issues are relatively routine, preventative, cost effective, and less labor intensive, if left unattended, they can all lead to some monumental transmission repairs that can be incredibly costly and heavily labor intensive. These major repairs often require removing the transmission box, disassembling the entire mechanism, repairing the issue, then reassembling the transmission box and placing the transmission back into place. Unlike a transmission fluid change or transmission flush, these transmission repairs are very complicated, labor intensive, and costly.
Reconstruction of a Transmission
While a full transmission reconstruction doesn’t usually become necessary without many prior warning signs, it is among the costliest auto repairs that can be performed by a transmission shop. The full reconstruction of a transmission in a motor vehicle can happen even if many of the other precautions have been followed with diligence. Unfortunately, this transmission service can happen to any motor vehicle, even to an owner who takes great preventative care of their vehicle.
If a transmission reconstruction is required, you can expect the following processes:
- Removing the transmission from its position in the vehicle and disassembling it
- Thoroughly cleaning all the parts by putting it through a parts washer
- Replacing and worn down or broken pieces
- Replacing or resealing any seals
- Repairing and replacing any electrical components that have burned out or aged
- Updating any parts that need upgrading
- Finally, replacing the rebuilt transmission into the vehicle and reattaching the transmission and all the electrical components
Because this transmission repair is incredibly complex and laborious, it is among the most difficult and costly repairs that a transmission shop can perform. As with all automotive repairs, rebuilding a transmission for a motor vehicle can vary widely in cost and length of time to repair, and is dependent on many factors. Generally, the repair will be either minor or major, depending on how extensive the damage is to your transmission.
When to Rebuild and When to Replace Your Transmission
When a major repair on your transmission is necessary and you bring your motor vehicle into a transmission shop, it may be that the damage to your transmission is too severe for the mechanic to perform a rebuild. Though a rebuild can be slightly more cost effective and help prolong the life of the vehicle, it will not always be an option.
Although it is costly, replacing the transmission could be the best decision to keep your vehicle running and avoid having further transmission issues in the future. When a full transmission replacement becomes a necessity, the damaged transmission, including all electrical and mechanical components, will be removed from the vehicle. After all the components are entirely replaced with a new transmission box, new electrical components, gaskets, and seals will be installed in the vehicle. Because this involves a great deal of parts and labor, it will be a labor-intensive and costly transmission service.
When your transmission becomes so damaged that it needs to be replaced, and repairing your old one is no longer an option, it is essential that you have a transmission shop handle this service. Getting expert help and service can make all the difference in your transmission repair experience and help you feel confident in the work being performed.
Finding the Right Transmission Shop for Your Transmission Repair
With so many transmission shops out there to choose from, it can be tough to determine the best place to take your vehicle for a transmission fluid change, repair, or other transmission service. With such an important piece of equipment in your motor vehicle, you want to be sure that your vehicle is in expert hands who will service your transmission with the knowledge and experience necessary for an efficient and correct repair. Not all transmission shops are going to be the best choice for your transmission service, but there are key qualifications that you can look for to help you decide which shop to choose.
Basic qualifications that you need to look for in a transmission shop begin with the certifications and experience of its mechanics. An ASE certification is the gold standard of expertise in auto repair and mechanical training. Becoming ASE-certified requires strenuous training, rigorous requirements in experience and determination to be the best of the best. Finding a transmission shop that employs ASE-certified mechanics is a great place to start when looking for a place to carry out your transmission repair.
In addition to certifications and experience, you will want to look for transmission shops that are well reviewed by other vehicle owners and patrons. You can learn a great deal about a transmission shop by browsing through some of the shop reviews of various transmission repairs that the shop has performed. This can help you determine which shops treat their customers well and perform transmission repairs with efficiency and expertise.
Let the Experts at Driver’s Edge Perform Your Next Transmission Repair
With a transmission service being so important, you want to be sure to have the best of the best working under the hood of your vehicle. Our team of ASE-certified mechanics have the experience and skills to handle any transmission repair and will guide you through the whole process of your repair. Schedule an appointment today to get the best service and expertise possible.