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6 Signs You Need a Transmisson Service

Customer Saves Vehicle Transmission with Low-Cost Service Appointment – Real Success Story!

     We drive our cars day every day and get by with just the usual pumping gas and routine oil changes… with the occasional “Oh man, I needed an oil change 500 miles ago!” (Click here to see what happened to someone who forgot altogether) But did you know there’s other routine maintenance your vehicle needs, like a transmission service, tune-up or having its sensors checked? For most of us other routine auto maintenance often goes by the wayside until the engine light comes on or, the car stops suddenly or it won’t even start. This can completely throw your day off as you have to take the car to a local auto repair shop near you and diagnosis is, hopefully simple… a bad battery, spark plugs, or your starter is bad. Best case scenario, you sigh, authorize the repairs needed, and pick up the car at the end of the day. Worst case… well let’s just say one of our recent customers avoided an entire transmission replacement by noticing a slight change while driving.

Man looking under the car hood trying to figure out if its the car battery or the starter
Just in the Nick of Time!

  Our customer was a young driver with only two years of behind the wheel experience. Her parents had educated her to be aware of her cars condition: the importance of oil changes, keeping an eye on tire wear, and the general condition of her car. She started noticing that her car had a slight vibration. She mentioned it to her folks and Dad drove her car but didn’t notice anything abnormal. Her parents assumed tire balancing and alignment check should take the vibration while driving away. She persisted with this complaint and decided to contact our office at Global Automotive and make an appointment. 

Once at Global Automotive...

When the car was test driven initially there was no vibration noticed, however on a second test drive, a slight shudder was felt when the car was shifting in the lower gears. The technician quickly evaluated the situation and the vehicle. The vehicle was at 99,000 miles and being that the vibration was felt in the lower gears, this probably wasn’t an alignment issue. The tech decided to perform a transmission fluid check to determine the transmission fluid level and condition.

**Transmission Maintenance Tip:**

On most modern cars there is not a transmission dip stick. These types of transmissions are considered to be mostly maintenance free, however, a schedule to maintain and change the transmission fluid is provided in the manual. Transmission Services aren’t needed often but are an important service to have done when needed. The transmission fluid can be checked by bringing the transmission up to a specified temperature and then verifying fluid via the check valve under the vehicle. This is best left to the professionals. **

What is Transmission Fluid supposed to look like?

In this particular instance, the tech decided to check the condition of the fluid first. He lifted the car and drained a small amount into a cup to determine the condition of the fluid.  This is what he found. When looking at it you might think “…ok… it’s just dirty fluid?”

But as shown in the comparison picture, clean transmission fluid has a red tint to it. And transmission fluid should never smell burnt, like the ‘dirty fluid’ in the cup did.  

The burnt and dirty fluid was not a good thing, however, when swirling the fluid in the cup, we couldn’t see any shiny specks which would indicate that there is metal in the fluid – meaning the damage hadn’t progressed yet and a low-cost Transmission service would likely solve the issue!

All's Well that Ends Well

The day ended well. The customer was able to pick her car up that evening with a minor repair cost verses the expense of repairing or replacing her transmission. She paid attention to her car and realized something wasn’t right, and that’s the sign of a great driver.

Here are 6 Signs Your Car Needs a Transmission Flush or Service:

  • Your Manufacturer’s Recommended Maintenance Schedule – There are several different types of transmissions including automatic, manual and three kinds of CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) which means the automotive manufacturer recommendations will differ. While some vehicles require a drain and will with no cleaning chemicals, others will need a full flush with cleaning chemicals. When you have a transmission service performed on your vehicle, ask how the fluid looked. Specifically ask, was the fluid dirty, did it smell burnt and were there any metal flakes in it. This can give you an idea of the condition of your transmission:
  • Dirty fluid indicates it was time for a fluid change.
  • Burnt Fluid means your transmission has overheated at least once.
  • Metal Flakes indicates wear and tear on your transmission’s internal parts.

Knowing how the fluid looked at the transmission service can help you get to know your vehicle’s needs in greater detail.

  1. A Whining Noise When Reversing – This can indicate a problem with your transmission fluid line. If the transmission fluid cannot flow through this line, your transmission is in danger or serious issues. A low-cost transmission check service could save you a lot of headache.
  2. Slipping Gears – A loss of hydraulic power due to dirty transmission fluid can lower the pressure in the system and cause gears to slip. Changing the Transmission fluid is a low-cost service that can fix this issue and prevent any damage if taken care of quickly.
  3. Vehicle won’t move in reverse – A number of issues can cause a vehicle to present with this issue, but dirty transmission fluid is one of the most common. If the fluid is too dirty, it cannot flow through the system and the vehicle cannot switch into reverse. A Quick Transmission Service may solve this problem.
  4. Grinding Noises – Dirty or Low transmission fluid levels can cause a grinding or unusual sound from under the hood. A quick fluid check of level and consistency can determine if this may be the issue.
  5. Problems Shifting Gears – In automatic vehicles, this symptom of dirty fluid could present as your vehicle changing gears too quickly or too late while driving, think slipping or sticking gears. In manual vehicles, you may not be able to change the gears at all.

I mentioned a couple paragraphs ago that every car has a manual, some are even on-line and can be downloaded to your computer or smart phone. (Here’s a great link to All Car Owner’s Manuals by Brand from Carfax) Your vehicle’s manual contains a schedule for maintenance that tells you when fluids should be changed or checked, spark plugs replaced, and other important routine maintenance for your specific make and model. 

     Taking good care of your car is very important, even more so now with the price of replacing your vehicle going up. Keeping up with the schedule of maintenance in your vehicle’s manual will enable you to drive it longer. If you are unsure of your vehicle’s maintenance needs, your local auto repair shop should be able to help you with that information. If you are in the searching for a local auto repair shop in Fauquier County, Global Automotive is always happy to help you!

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