Educational Consumer Tips

Transmissions, Automatic

Author: Better Business Bureau

The following comments provide general information for consumers, and do not necessarily reflect the practices or record of any particular company.

There are some warning signs of possible transmission trouble. Healthy transmission fluid is clear with a pink or reddish tint. Dark brown fluid with a burnt odor indicates the transmission is slipping ( you may not have noticed this while driving). "Foamy" or "milky" fluid signals slippage. Fluid leaks are a sure sign of trouble but if caught early is not an expensive repair. "Slipping" is the most common driving symptom of transmission trouble. Do not delay having this checked. "Harsh" or "rough" shifting is another symptom as well as "Rapid" shifting of the gears.

During normal operation of an automatic transmission, tiny specks of metal will wear off the gears and other metal parts. The presence of "metal shavings" may be normal residue and not a sign of a worn-out or seriously damaged transmission. Even if "metal shavings" are found, this in itself may not indicate a complete transmission replacement is needed.

At a repair facility, the technician should ask questions about the vehicles operations. The transmission fluid is checked and the condition of the motor mounts is considered. After a road test, the car is examined, on a lift if necessary, to check for any possible external causes. This should be done before a decision to disassemble is made. If disassembling is needed, a set fee should be agreed upon before opening up the transmission. The fee should include removal, inspection, estimate for repair and reassembly and replacement in original condition in case you decide not to proceed with the repair.

Do not be misled by unbelievably low-price "adjustment" adver- tising. This is a maintenance procedure only and will very seldom correct any trouble. Ask about any guarantee or warranty and exactly what is covered. Obtain referrals from neighbors, co-workers and friends. Find out if the transmission mechanic is certified under a nationwide program of the ** National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Check the reputation of any company before you do business with them.

**(National Institue for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE)
101 Blue Seal Dr SE Suite 101
Leesburg, VA 20175