Is your transmission leaking?
Checking for leaks isn’t as trying as it may seem. The transmission is a closed system, so there are only a few places that can spring a leak. Unless it’s been changed to a non-dyed fluid, your car will have red transmission fluid. Here are a few places to check for leaks:
Is your filter clogged?
Your transmission’s filter is vital to its performance. If you haven’t replaced your filter in a while (or ever for a lot of us), be sure to do this before you start talking about rebuilds or replacements.
Most transmission problems can’t be fixed by the average do-it-yourselfer. There are just too many specialized tools and pieces of equipment you’ll need, and buying this expensive gear just to screw up your first three tries at fixing the thing just doesn’t make too much sense.
Now that you’re in front of the firing squad, it’s time to drop some knowledge on your fix-it guy. Tell him what the car’s doing. Then tell him what you found out when you inspected the transmission. If there’s a leak, let him know where and how much is leaking.]]>
Insufficient Road Testing. The importance of a thorough road test (even for an oil change) is well documented in automotive training manuals. Yet, many technicians consider driving the vehicle into the shop good enough.
Misdiagnosing. For the above reasons and a multitude of others, your vehicle is misdiagnosed more often than not. Mechanics will spend hours chasing the wrong problem, wasting your time and money.
Throwing parts at a problem. To compensate for lack of skills, mechanics often just throw parts at the problem in the hope of getting lucky. It’s common to hear mechanics say I replaced this, this, this, and that, and the problem’s still not fixed. This goes right back to mistake number one: confirm the problem with diagnostics, then proceed.
Not addressing primary concerns first. Technicians often spend an inordinate amount of time looking for easy sells that will fatten their paychecks. There’s nothing wrong with this provided there’s no charge for the inspection, it doesn’t conflict with your time, and the upsell suggestions are valid (they’re frequently not). However, this type of free inspection and the subsequent upselling too often overshadows the primary concern. So…what’s wrong with my car?
Overconfidence. Too often unqualified technicians get in over their heads. Rather than defer to a more experienced technician or facility, they often keep going and do more harm. How’s it go…The road to hell is paved with good intentions?
Taking shortcuts. In the ongoing effort to beat the clock, technicians will create a host of problems: breaking parts, snapping bolts, short circuiting sensitive electronics. Refer to Auto Repair: How Can They Screw Up an Oil Change for a great discussion.
Poor Repairs. Whether through incompetence or laziness, mechanics frequently don’t do repairs correctly. It’s often sloppy work. Forgotten bolts, parts not lined up correctly, or components not re-installed properly are common. It gets worse with computer repairs: incorrect software programming, coding, and resynchronization protocols are just a few.
Not confirming repairs. After a repair is complete, it’s important to re-check to ensure that the problem is indeed fixed. Too often parts are thrown in and the car is pulled out only to pull in another victim.
Making a mess. If the above nine mistakes weren’t bad enough, there are now greasy fingerprints on the hood and steering wheel, and two big greasy boot marks on the carpet.
Today, high-tech systems that were unheard of 30 years ago – anti-lock brakes, electronic engine controls and computerized diagnostics – are commonplace. It doesn’t appear that the swift pace of technological advancement will slow any time soon, either, with the advent of hybrid vehicles and such features on the horizon as interactive suspensions, constantly variable-speed transmissions and 42-volt batteries.
For automotive service professionals, this means continual training and coursework to keep up with the torrent of changes. Disparaged years ago as “grease monkeys,” mechanics today have become automotive technicians, every bit as comfortable behind a computer screen and keyboard as under the hood with a wrench.
ASE is reminding motorists to follow the service schedules listed in their owners’ manuals before making a long-distance drive. While few people would ignore an ominous service engine light, many do skip oil changes. Yet in survey after survey, ASE-certified master auto technicians say that the old-fashioned oil change is one of the most vital services for getting the most from your automotive investment.
ASE was founded in 1972 as a nonprofit, independent organization dedicated to improving the quality of automotive service and repair through the voluntary testing and certification of automotive professionals. Its 400,000 certified technicians wear blue-and-white ASE shoulder insignia and carry credentials listing their exact areas of certification. Their employers often display the ASE sign.]]>
It is only by accident – car accidents that most of us end up inside the premises of our local, dealer or a chain auto body shop.
Most shops now bear little relation to the establishments you may remember as a child – dark and dusty surrounded by both piles of used and new car parts as well as a mean guard dog in the yard. There may be a few of those still around but they are a dying breed. Repairing cars now, especially with the electronics in today’s vehicles, requires both skill, education and training, sophisticated tools and an ultra clean, modern shop.
Modern body shops now seem to be uniformly clean, well laid out and well lit. As well many body shops are laid out in several distinct separate staging areas. Vehicles are estimated in one area, body work done in another, electronic repairs in yet another area, painted in a very separate area, and finally detailed and presented to the customer in a display area.
If the vehicle has major damage, then it is moved to a disassembly area and onto a frame machine. Unibody construction is utilized by most autos today. Unibody is a an automotive and mechanical body term which describes how sheet metal is stamped, formed and welded together to form the structural portion of the car or truck body.
The purpose of the “frame machine” is not to straighten the car frame now – rather it is to straighten the unibody construction of the vehicle.
Measuring the vehicle body for correct unibody alignment is more than critical. As little as one millimeter error is all that is allowed by most car, truck and S.U.V. manufacturers. Laser measuring systems are used by many body shops along with the frame machine to ensure that everything is straightened accurately to the decimal point.
With the unibody of the vehicle straight, the car, truck or S.U.V. moves to the metal work area where new sheet metal is mounted and damages area straightened. This work is still done by skilled technicians and tradesmen using hammers and dollies, but even the work done by body shop technicians has been changed by modern technologies. Overhead vacuum lines are connected to the grinders and sanders to pull dust and dirt away from this part of the shop. Modern body shops can remain very clean and dust free- indeed modern electronics , and even the most modern hi tech electronics of hybrid vehicles demand this.
With the entire metal straight, it’s on to the paint preparation area, commonly referred to as “paint prep”. Quality shops will use dust extraction systems to remove the dust when sanding and spraying the paint primers. Infrared lighting systems may be used to cure primer paint quickly and properly. These infrared lights can shorten the cure time from 24 hours remarkably to as little as 20 minutes. All of these procedures both help you to get a higher quality assured job and get you back on the road in a minimal time span.
Painting the final colors and clear coats is done in a paint booth. There are many types and brands of paint booths, however it is generally accepted the best are the “downdraft” units where fresh filtered air enters the top of the booth and any underspray is pulled downward and out through grates in the floor. The downdraft procedure of paint booths can produce the best and most consistent of paint finishes. In addition a well trained operator can make a great difference in final paint and appearance quality and consistency. A dust free paint booth of any design is better than a dirty and dusty paint booth of the highest end. Before spending your money or committing yourself to the job or repairs it is always best to ask to examine several examples of the shops work on several vehicles. In addition ask to see finished examples of several different body types – cars, trucks, vans and SUVs. Look for smooth finishes with minimal dust specs and colors that match from panel to panel. These are the signs of a quality paint job done by a skilled and professional painter.
It goes without saying that a professional paint shop will be proud of their faculties- the layout, equipment, training of their staff – and most of all their people.
Such a shop should have no trouble, barring practical logistics, of allowing you a tour of their facilities. Indeed after all of their careful efforts they should be most proud to give you a tour and point out their strong points and capabilities as well as examples of their finished product.
After all it’s your vehicle that is being repaired – whether it is your new S.U.V, car, truck, van or bus.]]>
When choosing tires for your car, two of the most important considerations are quality and warranty. When purchasing any new type of automobile equipment or parts, such as tires, you should receive a clear warranty from the manufacturer. In order for this to remain effective, you must keep the original purchase receipt and follow any instructions as provided with the purchase of your new tires.
When it comes to selecting a repair shop to order and install the tires, you will want to make sure that they offer quality service and have a reputation to match. In an effort to ensure your satisfaction, check out the shop’s Better Business Bureau report. This information, which is free at BBB.com, will provide a detailed history of the repair shop and includes the length of time in business, number of complaints that have been filed within 24-36 months and how many of those were resolved satisfactorily according to the Better Business Bureau standards.
When you are ready to purchase, call your local car repair shop and inquire about availability. If the tires that you need are in stock, the technicians may be able to service your car immediately. If they have to be ordered, you will be given a cost estimate and an expected date of arrival. On this date, you should plan to be available for taking your automobile into the shop for servicing.
Before agreeing to the order, make sure that you have everything in writing. When dealing with a transaction that involves both parts and labor, you will need to have a receipt that clearly shows the cost of the both the tires and the cost of the actual labor. This will help to eliminate any future disputes over a cost quoted and will make the transaction much smoother.
And finally, when choosing tires for your car and a repair shop to install them, you will want to choose a company that stands behind their work. If a car repair shop doesn’t offer any type of guarantee on their work, consider shopping around for another tire shop. As a customer, it will give you great peace of mind in knowing that your hard-earned money is well spent with a company who appreciates your business by standing behind their own.]]>