Did You Know

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Serving The Fargo-Moorhead Area Since 1965

Did You Know?

Tire Size - What's The Diff?

Transmission repair is nowadays completely managed by ultramodern tools and computerized machines. Electronic controls are employed for sophisticated automatic and standard transmission units. There are a lot of cars now with four-wheel-drive, all-wheel-drive, and viscous-coupling differentials.

We have to be thorough with all the complex theories of operation in order to troubleshoot problems of the electrical systems. When such a vast knowledge is necessary, simple problems get overlooked easily leading to unnecessary removals of transmission and transfer cases. A Transmission City handles many similar cases daily. Let's look at some of them:
  • A late-model Jeep with an NP 242 transfer case wasn't shifting out of 4WD. No faults were found even after spending a lot of time on diagnosis. At last it was discovered that one of the tires was 5 lbs low on air pressure. The unit functioned correctly as soon as the pressure was corrected.
  • A Hyundai with a KM 175 transaxle has a wasted differential carrier, a worn out clutch, and a badly burnt and oxidized fluid. The shop fixes all of it and rebuilds the transmission. But after 2 months, the differential is wasted once again and the valve body is covered in dust. Again, the unit is repaired free of charge under warranty. After 3 months, the differential fails again. This time, the shop notices that the passenger side front tire is a full-size smaller than the one on the driver's side. Once the oddball tire's replaced, the unit stays out on the road.
  • An all-wheel-drive Ford Aerostar with a Dana 28 transfer case is bound up and its trailer is hitching. The computer and electronic systems don't show any trouble codes. Speed sensors are replaced but the problem persists. At last, it's seen that the rear tires are bald and the front ones are new. The staggers (diameter at the center of thread) of the two tires differ by at least an inch. The rear tires are replaced and the problem is gone.
  • An all-wheel-drive Eagle Talon with a 5-speed Mitsubishi transaxle has a failed differential and viscous coupling. The front tire on the driver's side is brand new. It's found that the tire went flat and was replaced with the space-saver spare which had a warning not to be used at more than 50 mph for 50 miles. But the car was driven at 70 mph for 750 miles on that spare tire before it was replaced with the new one. This led to an expensive transmission repair.
So you can see that mismatched (under or over-inflated) tires are a potential cause of damage to your car's transmission system. The difference in the rolling radius of the tires also affects differentials and viscous couplings. The amount of time the vehicle is run under these conditions worsens the damage proportionately.

-provided by "Transmission Digest"

Click, Clunk Or Shudder Can Mean CV Joint Trouble

A clicking or clunking noise, shuddering, and vibrations are indications of CV joint trouble. In modern cars with front-wheel drive systems, the transmission, engine, and front axle are combined into one unit called the transaxle. The CV joints are packed in a special grease and covered with rubber boots.

You should regularly check the boots, more so when you're driving under rough conditions. Ask an experienced mechanic to put the car on a lift and show you the areas. After that, you can check it on your own with a flashlight. Look for cracks, tears, or grease sprayed out on the rubber boots. You can save a lot on your repair bills if you can spot the problems early.

-provided by ATRA and the Car Care Council

Important Information About Your Manual Transmission And Clutch

A Transmission City is always ready with quality repair solutions for your car's transmission and clutch problems. Here are some tips which will help you keep your transmission in good stead all the time:
  • Cold weather: Warm up for 5 minutes in neutral with the parking brakes on. The lube thickens in sub-zero conditions making the shifter too stiff and leading to transmission wear.
  • Riding the clutch: Never rest your foot on the clutch pedal when you're driving. It causes the clutch disc to fail prematurely.
  • Shift timing: Shifting gears frequently will lead to premature gear wear and bucking and stalling of the engine. Again, shifting too late will 'over rev' the engine and damage the clutch. So it's important to shift gears at the right speeds.
  • Make sure the clutch pedal is fully depressed: If it's not, major transmission damages will soon crop up because of grinding and failing of the release bearing, pressure plate, and other components of clutch linkage.
  • Lube levels: Oil spots under your car can indicate lube leakage. You won't notice anything unusual at first, not until the transmission is completely dry. But then the major damage will already be done. 
-provided by A Transmission City

Important Information About Your Transmission

The transmission system of your vehicle should never be neglected. These are some points you should consider:
  • Check your car's transmission fluid every 500 miles for the first 2000 miles. After that, check it monthly.
  • Install an auxiliary cooler to maintain an optimum temperature for the transmission fluid which can sometimes heat up to 300 degrees. The life of the fluid gets doubled even if the temperature reduces by 20 degrees. Some auxiliary coolers reduce the temperature by as much as 70 degrees.
  • Never rock your vehicle back and forth on a muddy or a snowy surface for minutes. This generates heat very quickly.
  • Drive slow when your car is overloaded or full, or when you're pushing a wind.
  • Change the transmission fluid after every 15000 - 20000 miles of drive, or when the fluid loses its red color. Transmission fluid doesn't last forever. It breaks down and gets oxidized if given to heavy or abusive use.
  • Change fluids more frequently for vehicles that are used to pull trailers, that idle a lot, that are driven in high traffic, and that are used in hot weather. They may require installation of an auxiliary cooler.
  • Release the fast idle before placing the transmission in forward or reverse. Fast engine idle and cold fluid build up pressures more than 10 times the normal limits and can cause splitting of internal hydraulic seals, breaking of bands, shattering of cases, cracking of converter hubs, and breaking of flywheels and mounts.
-provided by A Transmission City

Don't Buy Auto Repair Over The Telephone

Buying an auto repair over the telephone can be risky. Here's one of those typical phone calls you get to hear:

A 1972 Ford owner was getting an exhaust noise so he calls a muffler shop and asks the price of a new muffler. "$36", the shopkeeper replies. The owner fixes a time for the replacement and comes in at that hour. A mechanic attends to his car. He discovers that the noise was coming from the exhaust pipe which got detached from the muffler. "There may not be a thing wrong with the old one, but you bought a new one. You told him what you wanted and that was your mistake," explains the mechanic.

This unnecessary expense could have easily been avoided if the owner had driven into the shop and asked for a checkup. Auto repair shops will never stop you from spending more. Judge the situation yourself and get it diagnosed. Take a second opinion if you're still confused.

-provided by ATRA

Beware Of Bargain Transmission Service

Stay away from shops that advertise surprisingly low prices. Remember that these repairmen are not doing business to lose their money. If they tell you that the transmission needs work beyond routine maintenance, ask them to quote a maximum price before authorizing a tear down. You deserve to know that. If they're unwilling, go for a second opinion.

Just check the transmission fluid level at every third or fourth gas filling and see if the color is still red. If you follow this and drive under normal conditions, you're good to go.

-provided by ATRA and the Car Care Council

Price Is Not The Only Concern

How much will it cost? We all ask that question. No doubt it matters a lot. But there are a few other questions we feel you should ask:
  • How well are you going to do the job?
  • Do you have certified technicians to do the job?
  • Will I get good value for the money I put in?
  • Will I get a written warranty?
  • Was this caused by something I did wrong? How can I avoid this in the future?
You have every right to get these questions answered by the shop.

-provided by ATRA

Checking Your Transmission Fluid - Automatically

You should check your transmission fluid for signs of anything going wrong. See if the fluid:
  • Is still red in color
  • Looks clean and clear (not foamy or frothed)
  • Has a burnt smell (ideally it shouldn't)
Change the fluid if any of these happen. This is a crucial part of your regular maintenance that ensures your transmission is working fine.

-provided by ATRA and the Car Care Council

Fluid Appearance Tells Much About Transmission Condition

If the transmission shifts properly and the fluid is red and at the correct level without any leaks, keep on driving. That's what the transmission specialists at A Transmission City say. Get your car checked thoroughly twice a year, once in the fall just before winter and then again in spring just after the winter is gone.

You should ideally check your transmission fluid at every third or fourth tank of gas. Also check the level and color of the transmission fluid at regular intervals. Stop by for a FREE transmission fluid level check at A Transmission City's shop at 4453 Main Avenue Suite F Fargo, ND 58103. Our technicians will show you the correct method to check the transmission fluid.

-provided by ATRA and the Car Care Council

Tips On Finding A Good Transmission Repair Shop

You should be careful when selecting a repair facility for your faulty transmission. Here are some points to consider:
  • Don't trust the shop that gives cut rate specials on repairs. Remember, you get only what you pay for.
  • Go for a shop recommended by your friend or neighbor. Their good experiences are always your best guide.
  • Take the advice of your regular technician.
  • What are the trade affiliations of the shop? Does it have a code of ethics? Don't hesitate to ask for credentials if they're not displayed.
If you still have doubts, check with the Better Business Bureau. But remember that a clean record with the BBB doesn't necessarily mean that the shop is honest. The bureau records only those businesses that are reported under questionable business practices. Also, be very clear about the warranty. Is it limited to the local shop or is it national? Weigh the costs and benefits of an extended service contract.

-provided by ATRA and the Car Care Council

My Car: Should I Fix It... Or Buy A New One?

New Vehicle Price

Selling Price of New Car 
$10,000
$15,000
$20,000
Sales Tax
5%
500
750
1,000
Cash Down or Trade-In
20%
2,000
3,000
4,000
Payment Per Month
36 Months
9.50%
256
384
513
48 Months
9.50% 
201
302
402
60 Months 
9.50%
168
252
336
Fire, Theft, Collision, & Comprehensive Insurance Cost
904
994
1,056
Total Cost of New Vehicle
14,400
20,574
26,338
  
14,863
21,207
27,468
  
15,297
21,860
28,338

Actual Monthly Cost If You Buy A New Vehicle

Cash Needed to Buy
$2,500
$3,750
$5,000
Monthly Costs
36 Months
9.50%
401
571
740
48 Months
9.50%
310
442
572
60 Months
9.50%
255
364
472

Actual Per Year Cost If You Buy A New Vehicle

If Financed For:
36 Months
$4,813
$6,858
$8,874
48 Months
$3,716
$5,302
$6,867
60 Months
$3,059
$4,372
$5,668

Miscellaneous Vehicle Repairs

Battery
40
50
60
Detail Shop
125
125
125
Exhaust System
150
200
250
Tires (4)
200
300
400
Transmission
600
1,200
1,800
Tune-Up
150
200
250
Water Pump
125
150
175
Repair Costs
$1,340
$2,175
$3,010

Cost Per Month To Operate Your Vehicle

If You Fix & Keep It:
12 Months
$112
$181
$251
18 Months
$74
$121
$167
24 Months
$56
$91
$125
If You Replace It:
36 Months
$401
$571
$740
48 Months
$310
$442
$572
60 Months
$255
$364
$472
Which Is Better For You...
To Fix It for $112, or Replace It for $401?

-provided by ATRA

What Are Normal Driving Conditions?

'1986 Chevrolet, 45,000 miles, only driven to the grocery store by an elderly lady' - that's a great advertisement for a used car, isn't it? But even then, you better give it a thought. The car may have been driven less for short distances but may also have been subject to unusual wear and strain due to abusive driving.

Low mileage transmissions that are used regularly in cities and stop-and-go conditions suffer far greater wear than transmissions with similar mileage but under normal or highway conditions. Mileage doesn't determine the extent of transmission wear. The number of startup and shift cycles determine probable wear.

Extreme climate like cold or hot mountainous driving and snow or ice can take a heavy toll on your vehicle's transmission system. Under normal driving conditions, it's fine to service your transmission every 100,000 miles. But very few cars fit in this 'normal' category. The industry average is a yearly transmission servicing.

Regarding your warranty, get your queries cleared:
  • Is it written simply so that it's easily understood?
  • Does it have your name mentioned?
  • Are specifics such as duration of coverage and allowed mileage mentioned?
  • Are the items covered and items not covered clearly stated?
  • Does it clearly explain what the consumer must do to receive repairs under the terms of the warranty?
  • Is the exact place/location where the vehicle will be repaired mentioned?
  • Does the warranty contain a national coverage or is it authorized only in the original repair facility?
-provided by ATRA

Do You Drive Under 'Normal' Driving Conditions?

Most automatic transmissions are made keeping in mind a 'normal' use. But what exactly do 'normal' conditions mean? Statistics say that the average motorist drives 12,000 miles per year combining city and highway conditions. The bulk of this mileage is under relatively level or flat conditions.

When you exceed this number and go for extreme conditions, the life of your transmission starts to reduce significantly. Frequently servicing your car's transmission system and installing an external transmission cooler are ways to prevent this wear. You can also go for a valve body reprogramming kit or a special torque converter re-engineered for a lower/higher stall speed that suits your driving habits.

If you use your vehicle frequently in off-road conditions like through rivers or other bodies of water, ask your technician to extend (upward) the vents/openings of the transmission, differential, and transfer case to prevent water from getting in. A Transmission City is equipped to help you with all of these. Call Jerry or Dayn at 701-237-3541.

-provided by ATRA

It's The Transmission! It's The Transmission!

The vehicles built during 1979 to 1997 were all designed for maximum speeds of 55-60 mph. After 1997, the speed limits on highways were raised to 70 mph and higher. But for those vehicles, the motors and gears of the transmission system didn't have the capacity to tackle such high speeds so their transmissions got overheated, more so when bucking a wind.

Every transmission has a torque converter with a clutch that allows it to go to direct drive to tackle the speed and eliminate the 7% slippage between the converter turbines, saving gas, and getting rid of the heat generated. The clutch is electronically activated through a switch attached to the throttle. During heavy throttle, the clutch disengages for more power, and again engages when you reduce throttling.

When the clutch remains disengaged for a longer period, the transmission overheats and burns. This is what happens when you drive at high speeds, even worse if you have the cruise control on. The cruise pushes down the throttle harder for maintaining the speed, disconnecting the converter clutch. You never realize what's happening until fluid starts pouring out leaving a trail of smoke behind.

Please don't drive the 1979-1997 vehicles over 70 mph. Slow down if there's a strong wind or if you're pulling a trailer. If it's an overdrive transmission, keep the selector in the 3 or D range and slow down to 60 mph or less. Call us at 701-237-3541 if you have questions and we'll gladly help you out.

-provided by ATRA

Weather Hazards And Your Transmission

You should adequately protect your vehicle from severe weather conditions, especially during winter. Flooding is a potential problem that's common for most parts of the country. If water gets in, you're in for some serious internal damage. To prevent this, the three major components - engine, transmission, and differential - must be vented.

A vent is an opening to relieve the internal pressure. However, sometimes outside elements like water may creep in through these vents and lead to catastrophic effects. Some amount of water inside the engine doesn't always mean disaster. But even a small cup of coffee if spilled on an automatic transmission almost always results in major repair bills.

To avoid all of these, steer clear of deep puddles. If you happen to park your car only to return and find it submerged in heavy water, don't ever start or operate the vehicle. Call a tow service and save yourself from a fat bill. Get it checked by a transmission specialist. If luck favors, draining the transmission will do the job. If not, your insurance will cover part, if not all, of the damage.

-provided by ATRA

Today's Transaxles/Transmissions

The transmission of your vehicle is the most complicated and least understood component of all. In the later models, it's a combination of sophisticated hydraulics and computerized controls. These models often introduce the differential or final drive inside the transmission body itself. These types of transmissions are known as transaxles.

A nicely rebuilt transaxle can provide longevity equal to or more than your car's original one. In some cases, the designs of the transmission models are updated by the manufacturer to improve performance. A good transmission specialist will consider these during the rebuilding of your vehicle's transmission so that you are guaranteed a fair longevity.

You should take some added precautions if your vehicle is regularly used in rough conditions. Install a valve body kit or an external transmission cooler. Call A Transmission City at 701-237-3541 and talk to our technicians.

-provided by ATRA

Don't Blow Your Transmission In The Wind! (Or "I Can't Drive 55")

Does your car stall when you arrive at a stop? Do you feel shudders when driving on a highway? These may not be due to problems in your transmission. In fact, these may be coming from something completely different. The computers used in late model cars control the transmission, ignition, and fuel injection of your vehicle.

There are a lot of different cars which use the same computer that shares the same information. This is done by automotive engineers for a better mileage and efficiency. As both the engine and transmission are controlled by this computer, it's known as a Powertrain. As you drive, the Powertrain has to constantly adjust to your varying demands of throttle position, speed, spot light switch position, etc.

The computer is able to recognize these changes through sensors and it engages the clutch inside the torque converter accordingly. None can accurately identify the cause of the shudder, not unless he's a highly qualified professional. It can be due to a number of reasons - something slipping inside the transmission, the torque converter, a weak spark, a dirty fuel injector, or just a loose electrical connection.

-provided by A Transmission City
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