One day, you’re zipping down the highway, wind blowing your hair and the music on loud, when a light comes on the dash, flashing “Service Engine Soon.” There is never a good time for that light to come on, and it could mean a variety of problems, one of them being the transmission.
If it is the transmission, there might be other signs you’ve missed or ignored that indicate a problem. Those would include a whining or clunking from the transmission, hard shifting, a lack of response, a burning smell, shifting occurring early or late, leaking fluid, grinding gears, and noisy in neutral.
What Comes Next?
When you think there may be a transmission problem, it’s best to have it inspected right away. Waiting to do it could mean moving right on to a more expensive repair. No two transmissions are identical in their wear and condition, therefore you should be VERY SUSPICIOUS of any repair shop diagnosing or, even worse, quoting prices for a repair job without a thorough inspection.
A free, TrueTestTM inspection will pinpoint the vehicle’s issues and will result in a quote for only the repairs the vehicle needs, and nothing more. During this inspection process, three different computer scans are completed to ensure the most accurate diagnosis.
After that, trained technicians perform numerous hands-on tests to ensure they understand exactly what is broken and what is in need of repair. If the vehicle is unable to be driven to the repair center, towing is often provided.
The computer diagnostic scan includes scanning all modules, monitoring any sensors or solenoids sending trouble codes, and recording all trouble codes. After that, the transmission pan will be removed and inspected for metal and any friction material. The transmission fluid level is looked at, and the quality of the fluid is assessed, to make sure there is no burnt residue, contamination or deterioration.
If able, a road test is performed to assess the vehicle’s driving characteristics and the technician tries to replicate symptoms described by the customer to isolate the specific problem. Four-wheel drive vehicles require special attention to ensure the drive-train is operating well.
The final, multi-point lift test that is performed includes inspecting for transmission leaks, engine oil leaks, coolant leaks, looking at all electronic connections on the transmission, CV axles, universal joints, drive shafts, engine and transmission mounts, engine oil leaks, transfer case fluid level, and the differential fluid level. The most important part of the repair process is the inspection and diagnosis.
If the inspection concludes the problem is internal to the transmission, it is best to have the transmission Removed, Disassembled and Inspected (“RDI”). Many repair shops with charge you for this step. An experienced in-house rebuilder will then identify exactly the components within the transmission that need to be replaced or repaired. Be cautious of repair shops that do not go through this process and instead buys rebuild transmissions from a 3rd party. In those situations, neither you or the repair shops has any quality controls over the transmission in your vehicle. A shop with an in-house rebuilder and qualified technicians at this point should be able to provide you a specific quote.
Is it Worth Replacing
Once you have a quote, there is a question that every customer considers, “Is it worth it to do an expensive transmission repair on my vehicle?”
In most cases the answer is YES. Unfortunately, the value of the vehicle without the repair is effective salvage value (a couple hundred bucks) because a bad transmission will make a vehicle undriveable at some point. At least with the repair, you can usually sell the vehicle for an amount higher than the cost of repair.
The used car market can also be scary. You never truly know the history of a used vehicle if you are tempted to go that route. Beyond the unknown repair needs for a used vehicle, the prices in the used vehicle market has increased tremendously in recent years. If getting another car also means a monthly car payment, that can create an undue burden on your finances.
Ultimately, the safe decision would be to repair the vehicle you are familiar with and afterwards determine if you want to (a) keep it or (b) sell it and use the money to buy another vehicle. Keep in mind, some repair shops work with 3rd party financing institutions to help you get repairs done ASAP and thus avoid disruption to your employment or personal life.
If you need to have your vehicle’s transmission evaluated, visit Advanced Transmission Center for a thorough evaluation and a reliable, fair and honest quote. We will be happy to help you through the process and get you back on the road. Contact us today.