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Did you know that most major transmission problems can be avoided by preventative maintenance?


Remember, preventative maintenance works and can save you money and heartache.

All automatic transmissions consist of these basic components. A pump assembly which provides hydraulic pressure. Clutch drums, which are applied or released hydraulically. A planetary gear assembly which actually allows the different gear ratios to occur. A Valve Body Assembly which controls the shifting hydraulically. All this is housed in a case which is usually aluminum, and most likely is the only part of a transmission most people ever see.

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Ken Caroll, Owner


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Here is a quick list of things to do before you decide your transmission is bad.


1. Check the transmission fluid level. The engine must be running to do this. Always check the fluid in park, except on Chrysler products, check them in neutral.


2. If the fluid level is low fill the transmission to the proper level and test drive the vehicle, if the transmission seems okay, your problem is most likely a leak. NOTE: most transmissions hold a minimum of 8 quarts of fluid, just because you don't see any fluid on the stick does not mean the transmission is totally empty. When an automatic transmission gets about 2 quarts low it will start to malfunction, at 3 quarts low, most automatics will no longer engage into gear.


3. If you determine that your problems are fluid level related, the next step is to fix the leaks.

Most transmissions have at least 10 seals or gaskets that could be leaking, a common misconception is that if it is leaking it must be the pan gasket (many models on the road today do not have a pan).


4. If you find that your fluid is full, some other problem exists. First check any cables or vacuum hoses that connect to the transmission, if problems are found they are usually simple to fix. (i.e. replace hoses or reconnect cables.)


5. If nothing is obviously out of place you need to seek the services of a professional. Before you do this, know the answers to these questions.

Did the problem show up immediately upon picking up your car from a repair facility?

Did they service your transmission?

Did they work on the carburetor or fuel injection?

Did they do electrical work on the car?


6. If you did not just pick up your car from a repair facility, know the answers to these questions.

Do the problems occur more or less when the vehicle is hot or cold?

Do the problems occur when accelerating, or stopping?

Do the problems occur when the transmission is trying to make a gear change? (as you are driving)

Do the problems occur when you first put the transmission in gear? (sitting still)

Is there a noise associated with the problem?

Will the vehicle make it to a repair facility, or will it need to be towed?

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Ken Caroll, Owner



1. TRANSMISSION: also commonly called, tranny, transaxle, gear box, trans, unit, or when broken, simply a core or piece of junk.


2. SLIPPING: this term describes a racing up of the motor when the transmission is in gear, without a coinciding acceleration of the vehicle. This can be very slight, or very pronounced.


3. ATF: abbreviation for automatic transmission fluid. Also commonly called simply oil. (if you are talking to a transmission repair person and they ask if you have checked the oil, they mean the ATF.)


4. LEAKING: describes fluid or oil coming out of the transmission.


5. SHIFT: this is what the transmission does as you drive under normal circumstances, this is not the act of moving the lever from park to reverse or drive.




What is ATRA?


ATRA is a nonprofit professional organization for the automatic transmission repair industry. Its members comprise the worlds oldest and largest network of independent transmission rebuilding firms, with over 2000 members in the U.S. and Canada alone.


One of the major reasons ATRA exists is to protect its members and the public from dishonest or incompetent repair shops.


Protect Yourself


There are several things you can do to protect yourself from dishonest transmission repair shops.


First, you can ask your regular automotive mechanic to recommend a transmission shop to you. You can then check with your local Better Business Bureau to see if that shop has had any complaints filed against it. And you should always ask to see your transmission once it comes apart and insist that your old parts be returned to you.


But there's even a simpler way to protect yourself: have your automatic transmission repairs done by a member of ATRA - The Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association.



Contact an ATRA member in your area.




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