Does Your Car Need A Transmission Shop? Ask Yourself These 3 Questions
Do you suspect that your car needs some serious transmission work? An automotive transmission is no simple collection of parts, which means that it may require more expertise and skill than a "Jack of all trades" can provide. When does it make sense to consult an actual transmission shop instead of your local dealer or a general auto shop? The following questions can help you choose your course of action.
1. "Am I Feeling or Hearing Strange Things from My Transmission?"
The first question to ask yourself is whether you actually have a transmission issue, as opposed to some other automotive problem entirely. Since a transmission's sole tasks are to move the wheels of the vehicle at a certain speed and in a certain gear, you can count on a transmission problem making itself known either when the vehicle is in motion or while it's shifting from one gear to another. Transmission-related trouble signs include:
- Clunky or noisy gear shifts
- A delay in completing a gear shift
- A transmission that seems to shift for no reason, or which pops from a given gear into neutral on its own
- Reddish fluid puddling underneath the drivetrain
- A rhythmic thumping noise coming from the rear end of the car (which could indicate a worn rear differential)
- Grinding noises during gear shifts
Sometimes a transmission will display symptoms even when the car is sitting still. One example is a strange whining noise, which could mean that the needle pins on the transmission's torque converter have worn out. any of these red flags should prompt you to get your transmission checked out, preferably by an expert.
2. "How Common Is My Car's Make and Model?"
General auto shops vary widely in their ability to provide accurate, experienced transmission care. Almost any auto shop will have the ability to handle the most basic transmission issues, such as fixing leaks and topping up fluids. Diagnosing the fixing of more complex aspects of the transmission, however, can quickly exceed the scope of general automotive training. To make matters even more complicated, each transmission has its own design quirks -- and some of the more exotic cars may sports transmissions that a general repair tech has never even seen before. By contrast, a dedicated transmission shop can afford to focus all of its time and effort on transmission knowledge and expertise. The less common your vehicle's make and model, the more likely you'll need to take it to a transmission specialist.
3. "Do I Need to Replace My Transmission, or Can I Rebuild It?"
Many general auto shops or dealerships will recommend that you simply replace your vehicle's transmission with a new one. If the replacement is covered under your warranty, you might as well have a brand-new transmission take over from your old, problematic one. Otherwise, you can expect a new transmission to cost thousands of dollars. An old vehicle with a minimal remaining value may not merit anything more costly than a used transmission out of a salvage yard. In many cases, however, it makes sense to rebuild the transmission on a classic and/or beloved care. If you plan to go this route, you'll want to entrust the job to a transmission shop instead of a general auto center, since the entire transmission may have to be taken apart and then reassembled with new components.
Deciding what to do with your car's transmission can prove almost as tricky as attempting to repair it. If you have any doubts about the seriousness of the condition or the complexities involved in repairing it, call your local transmission shop and get an expert opinion!