HOW CAN DRIVING CONDITIONS AFFECT MY TRANSMISSION?
Most people assume that transmissions have a certain life expectancy based on the number of miles put on the unit, however, the life of a transmission is also greatly affected by the way the vehicle is driven. Most manufacturers give you an idea of how long a transmission should last based on the recommended services performed and normal driving conditions. But what are ‘normal’ driving conditions? A quick glance at an owner’s manual will tell us that ‘normal’ driving conditions are the following:
* An average of 12,000 to 15,000 miles driven per year
* A semi even mix of city driving and highway driving
* Normal operating temperature for engine and transmission
* Clean and dry road surfaces
* Mostly even and straight roadways
* Moderate external temperatures
* Good external air quality
* Tire pressure properly and evenly set to all tires
* Fluids clean and filled to appropriate levels
* No hard braking or excessive speeds
* Light cargo load, usually no more than two passengers
We might think these ‘normal’ conditions are easy enough to abide by but more often than not, not all of these conditions are met because most people drive under ‘extreme’ conditions. For example, we have come across many older vehicles with low mileage that present signs of unusual wear and strain. Why? Well simply because these vehicles have been driven under extreme conditions. What we mean by this is, if you use your vehicle only to go to the store or to work a couple of miles away, then the vehicle is not warming up to proper operating temperature and the transmission is shifting more up and down though the gear ranges. In this case, it was the driving conditions and not the mileage that affected the transmission.
A lot of vehicles are also driven in extreme heat or cold, and on unusual roadways such as mountainous terrain or rocky or icy roads. In cases like these, such as extreme heat, an external cooler is recommended and manufacturers recommend performing a transmission service at regular intervals. Compare that to vehicles that are driven at ‘normal’ condition where a service should not be required.
The term ‘normal’ driving conditions is in a way kind of misleading because these conditions are rarely met and what is instead normal is what manufacturers would consider ‘extreme’ driving conditions. There is no such thing as ideal driving conditions so to ensure proper operation of your vehicle, it is recommended that you see a specialist at least once a year. At Gold Coast Transmissions we will diagnose your vehicle at no charge and provide you with peace of mind for years to come.
And remember folks, ‘extreme’ is the new ‘normal’.
HOW DO I KNOW I CAN TRUST YOUR TRANSMISSION SHOP?
Most people are wary about taking their vehicle in to a mechanic or a transmission shop for repairs. They have either been swindled in the past or they know someone who was taken advantage of by a dishonest shop. So, how can you tell who to trust?
We know auto repairs can get expensive, and frankly most people aren’t in the position to spend a lot of money to get their car fixed. We’ve heard horror stories from customers that have taken their vehicles to shops and been given an estimate only for the final cost of repairs to be much higher. Or they have been sold unnecessary repairs that did not need to be done.
Now, we can tell you that we have been in business for over 23 years, and that we have ASE certified mechanics working at our transmission shop, some of which have been with us since the beginning. We can also tell you that we would be more than happy to show you around our facilities, or have you check out your vehicle with our mechanic, or let you inspect your bad parts and see the damage for yourself. We can tell you all that, and while it is all completely true, it probably won’t make you feel like you can trust us just based on our word.
We know consumers are intelligent and we have had customers tell us that they don’t know us from Joe Schmoe, so the question becomes again, how can you tell who to trust?
Go online! Read reviews from consumers just like you who have had work done and can give you an honest idea of what to expect or what kind of reputation a place has. Every shop is going to have good and bad reviews, there’s no denying that, but it is up to you to see the bigger picture. When you go to review sites such as yelp, make sure you scroll all the way down and read the reviews that they don’t recommend as well. There might be quality information from customers that you could be missing out on because of their sorting algorithm. You want to have all the facts to make an informed decision.
If you have a general mechanic that you trust and you need specialized work that they can’t perform, ask them for a referral. Most shops know the reputation of other local shops and they can give you an honest opinion of someone they have referred business to in the past. If they had a good experience, then they will keep sending referrals. Remember, shops are putting their reputation on the line as well if they give a bad referral.
Visit the shop and get a feel for the place. It may sound silly to go to a repair shop if you don’t need repairs, but it helps you become familiar with the place. If the shop you visit is somewhere that you will be able to trust then they should have no problem answering your questions and showing you around. They know that first impressions are everything and that if they treat you right, you will come back.
Check out their website. Any reputable shop should have a nice, professional website. If a website looks amateurish or unprofessional, then it is not a good reflection of their business. A shops’ online presence is important and if they are not willing to spend the effort on their brand, then they are not willing to put the effort into their business or your repairs.
Now that you know what to look for, we know that you will make an informed decision when selecting which shop will earn your business. At Gold Coast Transmissions we will always try to help you come to the best decision possible about your repairs with our expert knowledge and experience. We encourage you to reach out to us through our many social media platforms such as facebook, twitter, linkedin, and our website, and let us know how WE can help YOU!
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE A TRANSMISSION PROBLEM?
Nowadays many people try to self-diagnose their vehicles before taking them to a shop because they’re afraid to be taken advantage of or they don’t want to waste their time on a minor problem with an easy fix. A lot of consumers are educating themselves with articles and videos found on the internet that provide a good starting point.
Even though most consumers are better educated about their vehicles, the vehicles themselves have become more complex in terms of technology. Most vehicle on the road today are computer controlled, which means that the engine, transmission, and electrical systems are all controlled by either one main computer or an individual computer per system which require a machine called a scanner to troubleshoot.
Transmissions are especially difficult to self-diagnose because it is a sealed unit, so there is very little in the way of a visual check that can be done, and most modern transmissions are computer controlled which requires a scanner to read the error codes.
However, we understand that consumers like to have an idea of what they’re in for before visiting a shop. So how can you tell if you have a transmission problem?
1. The check engine light is on:
The check engine light will come on if the vehicle is sending a trouble code to the computer. It is your first sign that something is wrong. The check engine light could come on for hundreds of different reasons, however. So while it is an indicator that something is wrong, it may not be transmission related, or anything major at all.
2. The transmission fluid is low or leaking:
Most transmissions have a dipstick going into it that is accessible under the hood usually on one side of the engine. It allows you to check the level and condition of the fluid. The fluid should be a red color. If it is brown or dark then it means the unit is overheating and burning the fluid. Also, if the level is too low there might be a leak. Check for oil spots on your driveway. Running the transmission low on fluid could cause serious internal transmission problems.
3. The transmission is making a noise:
Noise like a grinding or whining is another indicator of a problem. A lot of noises in the vehicle’s drive train sound similar, however the transmission is usually positioned in the area below the driver. If you hear a noise coming from below you, it might be a transmission noise.
4. The transmission is slipping:
If you are accelerating and the RPMs go up but the vehicle takes a few seconds to shift into the gear, that is indicative of a transmission problem and it is what’s most commonly referred to as a transmission slip.
5. The transmission has a failure:
A failure could be the transmission not going into a certain gear or jumping gears. For example if the transmission is not going into reverse, but has no problem going forward.
6. The vehicle does not move at all:
This one is pretty self-explanatory. If the engine is on and you can hear it revving when pressing the accelerator, but the vehicle doesn’t move at all then you most likely have a transmission problem.
If you have any of the previous concerns then your vehicle most likely has a transmission problem and it should be taken into a transmission shop right away to avoid causing further damage to the unit that would result in more costly expenses. Once you have caught a transmission problem, the best practice is to address it right away even if it doesn’t seem too severe. There are hundreds of parts in a transmission that could fail and damage other parts.
Here at Gold Coast Transmissions our diagnosis is completely FREE and transparent! We want to help get you back on the road. Come see us today!
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU CHANGE YOUR TRANSMISSION FLUID?
We receive a lot of calls every week asking us to do transmission fluid changes and we always ask the same question: Why?
The question of how often the transmission fluid should be changed is something of a hot topic in the industry and there are several different opinions floating around. That being said, we at Gold Coast Transmissions, recommend not changing your transmission fluid if you’re at the point where something is wrong with the way the transmission is operating and you are experiencing issues with the vehicle, changing the fluid is not going to resolve the problem and might in fact make it worse. Over time the viscosity of the transmission fluid changes and the unit becomes accustomed to the thickness of the fluid that is in the system. Changing the old fluid for new, thinner fluid, could cause the internal parts to grind together.
However, most manufacturers do recommend changing the fluid every 30,000 miles for vehicles that are under warranty and they might void the warranty should the maintenance requirements not be met. There are also some manufacturers that do not recommend changing the fluid for the lifetime of the vehicle.
In the case of a vehicle under warranty we do suggest you adhere to the manufacturer recommendations in order to abide by their requirements. However, since the manufacturer recommendations are based on ‘normal’ driving conditions and we have covered that most people drive on ‘extreme’ driving conditions, we recommend that the fluid be changed more often than recommended.
You might ask yourself why we would, at the beginning of this post, say we don’t recommend changing your transmission fluid and now say to change it more often than recommended by the manufacturer.
The answer is, if you’re changing your fluid regularly then there is no danger of your transmission becoming accustomed to a thicker fluid because it will always be fresh, but if you are going 30,000 miles between changes under ‘extreme’ driving conditions then that transmission is fluctuating between a thick and thin fluid and you could be contributing to a problem down the line.
If you’ve never done a fluid change on your transmission, or bought the car used and you don’t know the maintenance history, don’t do a fluid change. If you have a problem with the transmission, changing the fluid won’t fix it, and if you don’t have a problem, then leave it alone.
If you have purchased a new vehicle and you want to stay on top of your maintenance to extend the life of your vehicle, then change the fluid every 12,000-15,000 miles, which is equivalent to roughly one year of driving.
As always, if you are experiencing an issue with your transmission we recommend you see a specialist as soon as possible. At Gold Coast Transmissions we are always here to help you! Come see us for a tour of our facilities today!
HOW TO CHECK YOUR ENGINE OIL LEVEL
Making sure that the oil level in your vehicle is up to specification is one of the most important parts of vehicle maintenance. If you run your vehicle low on engine oil you may run the risk of causing damage to your engine because the oil serves the functions of not only lubricating the internal components of the engine, but also cooling, cleaning, etc.
Engine oil goes through a degradation process naturally over time, which is why it is recommended that your engine oil be changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles of driving depending on the oil you are using, but when you run the engine low on oil the degradation process happens much faster. This is because the reduced amount of engine oil in the vehicle is not being given a proper amount of time to cool down a little before it has to go back up to the engine.
This overheating of the oil will lead to it breaking down and becoming sludge or tar in the engine, which deposits onto the cylinders, rings, and bearings and will cause friction on these parts. As the parts get hotter and hotter, the wear on them happens at a much faster rate until eventually something will give, most likely a rod or main bearing. In the event of that happening you might need to replace the engine.
Now that we’ve covered what the danger is of running the engine low on motor oil, we can discuss how to prevent that from happening by making sure that the level is always up to specification. The best part is that checking your engine oil is one of the easiest things to do and a great way to upkeep the maintenance on your vehicle.
Most vehicles have an engine oil dipstick that is located under the hood somewhere in proximity of the engine. This dipstick is marked with a minimum and a maximum acceptable oil level to let you know how much oil should be in the engine.
The best way to get an accurate reading is to run the engine for 5 minutes and then shut it off to do the reading. Simply pull the dipstick out of the filler tube to check the oil level. To make sure you’re getting the most accurate reading you’ll want to wipe the dipstick off, reinsert it, and then check the reading. The oil level should be between the minimum and maximum lines.
If for some reason the oil is below minimum it could be that you have an engine oil leak or the engine could be consuming too much oil due to an internal failure. Both of these concerns needs to be addressed at an auto repair shop right away.
If the engine oil level is above the maximum recommended level it shouldn’t be a concern as long as the oil level is only slightly above the fill line. However if the oil level is much higher than the max fill line then you might want to consider having an oil change done to bring the oil level back to specification.
Now you know how to check your oil level, what the dangers are of running the vehicle with low oil, and what could cause the oil level to be below minimum.
Gold Coast Transmissions is a full service auto repair shop. If you have any concerns about your oil level, bring your vehicle in to one of our two repair facilities for a free safety and diagnostic service.
HOW TO CHECK YOUR TRANSMISSION FLUID
We know most consumers like to do simple things for themselves, such as check fluid levels and condition, rather than take their vehicle into a shop. We understand going to a mechanic is sometimes stressful and takes valuable time out of your day. There are simple things you can do at home especially when it comes to maintenance, such as check your fluids, that can eliminate the need to see a mechanic.
In this blog, we are going to walk you through how to check your transmissions fluid and how to determine whether it is low or whether or not you need to see a shop. The first thing is that you should always check your transmission fluid level with the vehicle running, after it has warmed up a bit. The transmission dipstick should be around the engine, either on one side or behind.
Some manufacturers, such as Audi, are making vehicles without transmission dipsticks, so the only way to check the fluid would be to take the vehicle in to a shop and have them drop the pan.
For cars that do have a dipstick, you can check the level by pulling out the dipstick with the car running and making sure it is between the lines that indicate minimum and maximum fluid. To make sure you are reading it correctly, wipe the dipstick down, reinsert it into the transmission filler tube, pull it back out, and check the level again.
The transmission fluid should be a relatively thin and a clear reddish pink color. If the fluid is a darker red or brown, then it is time to visit a transmission shop to have the transmission oil pan dropped and checked for metal contamination. You may also experience, that the fluid might look clean but have a burnt smell. In this case it is also best practice to take the vehicle in to a transmission shop to have it checked.
As we have said in a previous post, we do not recommend having your transmission fluid flushed or changed, as it could cause damage to your transmission. If your transmission fluid is low or darker than it should be, take the vehicle in to a transmission shop as soon as possible to have the vehicle checked.
Here at Gold Coast Transmissions, we perform diagnosis at no charge for your convenience. Stop by one of our two locations today to have us check your transmission fluid!
WHAT IS A TRANSMISSION?
In our previous blog posts, we’ve talked about why there is more value in repairing your used vehicle versus purchasing a new on, how to recognize the symptoms of a faulty transmission, what driving conditions can affect your transmissions, etc. What we have yet to discuss, is what exactly a transmission is and what it does.
Most of our customers have a very basic understanding of the transmission. The response we usually get to the question, what is a transmission, is “it’s a part in the car that makes it move”. Well, technically, it’s not a wrong answer. The transmissions does indeed help move the vehicle, but how does it do this?
Basically, the engine sends power to the transmission and the transmission transmits the power from the engine to the differential(s), which moves the wheels, via the driveshaft. Since the engine can only operate at a relatively high rotational speed, it is the job of the transmission to take that output and reduce the higher engine speed to the lower wheel speed. The transmissions does this through the use of the many internal gears, which switch based on the speed applied, either manually, via the driver, or automatically.
As you can imagine, taking all the power from the engine and reducing it to the wheels, is quite a big job and it puts an irrevocable strain on the transmission. Transmissions are typically built with the vehicles use in mind. For example if you have a big pick up truck with a V8 engine, your transmission is built to withstand more power output than a 4 cylinder vehicle. However, that does not necessarily mean that a transmission on a large vehicle will last longer because it is built stronger. Now that you know a little bit about what transmissions are and how they work, you can appreciate everything they do for you and your vehicle, so if the time ever comes to repair them, you’ll think twice before changing your vehicle. For all your transmission questions, diagnosis, and repair, Gold Coast Transmissions is here to help!
WHAT IS THE WORST TRANSMISSION ADVICE WE HAVE EVER HEARD?
When you have a problem with your vehicle sometimes your first thought might be to get advice from your friends or an internet search. A lot of times you might find some useful information out there but there are a lot of cases where everyone thinks they’re a mechanic and you might get or come across some advice that will make things worse.
When it comes to transmission problems you really want to make sure that you see a reputable shop instead of taking advice from a faceless entity on the internet with a screen name like mechanic_enthusiast1234.
We’ve had a lot of customers over the years come in with a lot of damage to their transmissions that tell us they found some “quick fix” advice on the internet or that a friend or family member recommended such and such solution.
Some of the worst advice we have ever heard is:
- Change the fluid and the filter
This is hands down the worst advice we have ever heard. When you have a transmission problem, such as slipping, grinding, skipping gears, etc, you might think that changing the fluid will help, and inevitably someone will tell you that is the best choice, but the truth is that you will cause more damage to the transmission. The fluid serves the function of lubricating and cooling the moving parts inside the transmission unit, and despite what you might have heard the transmission fluid does not degrade like motor oil so it doesn’t have to be changed. Burnt transmission fluid is not the cause of a unit failure but rather a symptom of a failing transmission. Changing the fluid could cause the clutches to rub together, creating friction in the unit and causing it to burn out.
- Put brake fluid in the transmission
This is another example of a “quick fix” that is not actually helpful. What the brake fluid does is that it causes the rubber seals to swell, which helps build hydraulic pressure. Since the transmission works by pressure this “fix” will seem to work at first, but it is actually causing more damage to the unit. The problem is that the seals will continue to swell until they turn to mush and the unit loses pressure completely. The loss of pressure will cause damage to the internal mechanical components, leading to a pricier repair.
- Put transmission additive in it
A lot of customers that come in to our shop tell us that when they felt their transmission acting up they went to their local auto parts store and put some transmission additive in the unit to help with slipping. For a short while the additive does help, but then it makes everything worse. Kind of like the brake fluid, the additive helps with slipping by softening up the hardened piston seals. However, while the additive does soften the seals, over time it will continue to soften them until the point where they fail and then you can expect the transmission to fail completely.
All of these so called “solutions” are actually very damaging to the transmission and will end up costing you a lot of money in the long run. The best thing you can do for your vehicle and your wallet is to bring your vehicle in to Gold Coast Transmissions as soon as you notice an issue.
Gold Coast Transmissions has been in business for over 26 years as an industry leader in transmission repair and we offer free vehicle diagnosis in an effort to provide you with peace of mind about your vehicle repair. When you experience the first sign of a transmission problem, give us a call to schedule your appointment for a free transmission diagnosis.
WHEN SHOULD YOU TOW YOUR VEHICLE?
When your vehicle is experiencing a mechanical failure, sometimes the first step in the repair process is determining whether or not you should have the vehicle towed in or if it is safe to drive the vehicle into a repair facility.
Depending on the type of failure you’re experiencing with your vehicle, the safest and most cost effective option might be to tow it into a repair facility. If the car is drivable it might seem cheaper to just drive it into a shop and save on the tow bill which could anywhere from $55-$100+, however by continuing to drive the car you could be causing more damage to the vehicle, which could result in a higher repair cost.
Some of the conditions under which it would be better to have your vehicle towed are:
- if the temperature gauge is going higher than normal and the vehicle is overheating
- if the check engine light is flashing
- if the oil pressure light is on or flashing
- if there are any major leaks underneath the vehicle
- if there is a knocking noise from the engine
- if there is a grinding noise from coming from the rear end or the transmission
- if the Drive or Reverse lights are flashing on the gear selector
- if the vehicle has no power when accelerating
- if there is smoke coming out of the exhaust or from under the hood
- if the brake pedal sinks all the way to the floor
If you experience any of, but not limited to, the listed symptoms, the best bet for your vehicle and your wallet would be to have the vehicle towed in to Gold Coast Transmissions to have it diagnosed. Gold Coast Transmissions has been in business for over 26 years.
At Gold Coast Transmissions we will tow your vehicle in to be diagnosed at no charge.
WHY CANT YOU GIVE ME AN ESTIMATE OVER THE PHONE?
We get a lot of calls from customers wanting a transmission estimate over the phone. Most consumers are hesitant to go to a transmission shop without knowing what a repair might cost them because it feels too much like a commitment they might not be able to make. However it is nearly impossible to provide an accurate estimate over the phone because there are simply too many factors that go into pricing a transmission repair.
The first factor being that there are just too many different transmissions out there today. Two decades ago there were only a handful of different transmissions in use which made it easier to determine which vehicle had what transmission. Nowadays there are hundreds of different transmissions, each with different calibrations and modifications.
Another factor is that most modern transmissions are computer controlled. What that means for your vehicle is that any problems might not be due to the transmission itself, or the problem might be in conjunction of the computer and the transmission. As if that wasn’t enough, there is also the fact that transmissions don’t all fail in the same way. Even though the same model transmissions could be presenting similar symptoms, the repair might be completely different.
In order to provide a proper diagnosis, our technicians must put the vehicles through a rigorous testing process. We must start by identifying the exact transmission type out of hundreds, then we must duplicate and isolate the problem, and perform a computer scan on the system. Through that detailed process we can provide an accurate explanation of the problem and an honest estimate for repairs. Given everything that goes into just the diagnosis process, there is no way to provide an accurate estimate over the phone.
Gold Coast Transmissions has been providing quality service for over 23 years, which is why our diagnostic process is completely free of charge! We want to provide the best and most honest service to our customers. Come in to Gold Coast Transmissions today for your free diagnosis and let us help get you back on the road!
WHY DOES TRANSMISSION REPAIR COST SO MUCH?
Being one of the largest and oldest transmission shops in South Florida, we get asked a lot of questions concerning transmission repair and all that goes into it. One of the most frequently asked questions is:
Why does transmission repair cost so much?
It’s true; transmission repair can be costly. However when you consider everything that goes into it, it’s really not that much. There are hundreds of individual components housed in a transmission that each have to be taken apart, cleaned, and inspected by a certified transmission specialist. They have to ascertain which parts are broken, damaged, or weak, and set them aside for replacement. Once the transmission is ready for reassembly with new, updated parts, it has to be put back together into sub-assemblies that then have to be tested and adjusted for proper operation. If everything goes well then the transmission is ready for re-installation in the vehicle, where it will go through another round of testing. Consider also that most modern transmissions are controlled by the vehicles on board computer and its operation is dependent on more than just the internal parts. Engine problems, and even the vehicle’s battery voltage, can affect how the transmission operates.
All of this culminates in one fact, which is that while a transmission repair might be costly no other repair has a greater value for your money.