An automotive transmission, whether manual or automatic, is a complex piece of machinery that works with the other systems of your engine to get you where you are going. Here are some important things to know that could provide a better understanding of how it all fits together.
- Your Transmission is Not an Island
By itself, the transmission won’t be able to accomplish much. It is dependant on all the other functioning pieces of the engine’s system to work properly, just as the other parts of the engine network are dependant on the transmission to function properly.
Diagnosing a transmission issue is detailed work and it is important to look at the whole system to ensure that a transmission problem isn’t originating in an exterior component. One of the last things any competent transmission professional should do to fix a transmission is to remove the transmission. Prior to any transmission work, we put every vehicle we work on through a battery of diagnostic test to ensure that all input devices are working properly and every potential exterior problem is ruled out. Many times, transmission problems that seem major turn out to be a relatively minor malfunctioning exterior component that, because of our rigorous diagnosis process, is caught and fixed right the first time. This saves our customers time and money, and gets them back out on the road with peace of mind.
- Do Not Ignore the Check Engine Light
A lit check engine light is telling you there is a problem, please do not ignore the warning! At a minimum you should have your car’s computer scanned to know what the issue is and be able to plan for a repair accordingly. The more knowledge you have, the better position you are in to make an informed decision and save money.
- Transmission Input Devices are Controlled by the Engine’s Computer
External input devices within the engine tell the transmission when to shift up or down. Even though they are outside of the transmission body, they work with the transmission to control it. If any of the transmission input devices are malfunctioning, the transmission will start to shift erratically or hard shifting. Many times our customers think (or have been told) that they will need a whole transmission rebuild, when it could simply be a faulty or malfunctioning sensor or control device.
- What is a Throttle Position Sensor and why is it Important?
A throttle position sensor is a type of input device that has to read the throttle position of the engine correctly to tell the transmission which gear to be in during all driving conditions. Signs that a throttle position sensor could be malfunctioning can include the check engine light being on or in the engine sometimes feels like it is going to die when the car is idling. At the same time the transmission cannot read the signal and puts the transmission into high line pressure to compensate, which results in very hard shifting. This can be misdiagnosed as a transmission problem, when it is only a throttle position sensor issue.
However, if left unaddressed it can result in greater damage to the transmission because the high line pressure will chew up the transmission by destroying the clutch. Then you will not only have to change the throttle sensor but possibly the transmission as well.
- A Parts Changer vs, A Transmission Specialist
Many times, taking your vehicle to a general mechanic for transmission service can result in the same problem reoccurring over time. The symptom might get fixed, but the root cause isn’t addressed, which can result in the same problems resurfacing, even after a transmission has been replaced or rebuilt.
The main difference between a mechanic and a transmission specialist is the experience of repairing, rebuilding are reconditioning many different transmissions over the years. Working as closely with transmissions as Transmission Pros of Escondido has for 25 years gives us the knowledge of how transmissions work and what it takes to fix them correctly.
- Shocking a Transmission
This is when you have a worn out transmission and you change 100% of its fluid. It won’t damage the transmission; it just finishes off a transmission that was already showing signs of slipping or failing. Putting new fluid into a failing transmission will force the clutches to act like they did when they were new, and in so doing sheer off the paper lining, finishing off the transmission.
The only way to prevent shocking a transmission is regular maintenance. Having your transmission maintained every 20,000 miles / year is the best way to save you money in the long run and extend the life of your vehicle.
- Reflashing the Computer
Reflashing a car’s computer is kind of like a software update for your home computer. Every car built since the mid 1980’s has computerized engine controls that are designed to run a new engine and transmission. Over time the mechanical side of the system wears out, so the computer may need to be updated to compensate for wear.
Just updating the cars program can sometimes repair hard or erratic shifts. Many models of Toyota’s need this and there have even been recalls on some cars just for this problem.