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Shifting problems on a Ford F-150

In Diagnostics, Transmission, Transmission Flush by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Shifting problems can sometimes occur among vehicles with automatic transmissions. This was the reason why a four-door F-150 pickup truck came into our shop the other week.

The technician who was working on it checked the basics and found that the transmission fluid was low by about three quarts. 

He also looked into Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) and common problems with these trucks. Through this process, we learned that the seal at the transfer case can go bad, causing the transmission fluid to go into the transfer case. 

A transfer case seal.

Searching for the transmission fluid

We put the vehicle up in the air and – just looking at it – didn’t see any visible leaks for three quarts of transmission fluid to disappear to. 

The technician dug further into the issue to determine what was happening.

As he pulled off the vent hose coming off the transfer case, it started leaking fluid. So, it was probably a day or two before it would have started pushing out of the tube and leaking on the ground.

This is why you shouldn’t go based on outward appearance when performing auto repair. The problem could be hidden behind other parts.

How we solved the problem

This is where the transfer case connects to the transmission on a Ford F-150.

This is where the transfer case connects to the transmission.

So, it was a pretty straightforward fix – we pulled the transfer case off the back of the transmission, replaced the seal, put it back together, and made sure the transmission fluid was topped off. 

A transfer case.

Transfer case

To make sure everything would be good for a while, we put some synthetic transmission fluid in the system and ensured it had the correct amount. Then we performed a flush on the transmission so that it was serviced up and this customer could be on their way again.

Whether you should go ahead and do a transmission fluid flush is based on the mileage and what’s going on with the vehicle.

Transmission fluid exchanges are recommended every 30,000 miles – depending on the vehicle and what the manufacturer suggests. This service cleans out the transmission and enables the component to continue running the way it should. To learn more about transmission fluid exchanges, check out this article we posted.

Certain vehicles may need a transfer case fluid exchange, which extends the transfer case’s lifespan.

Other causes of shifting problems

A bad transfer case seal isn’t the only reason why a vehicle may be experiencing shifting problems.

Trouble switching gears can also be the result of a bad automatic transmission. Other indicators include slipping or a whining noise.

Low fluid or fluid with contaminants in it may result in shifting problems, as well. Keep in mind that fluid doesn’t just go bad. if it has debris in it, that means that something is breaking down within the transmission. 

If the problem is that your car won’t come out of park, there might be something wrong with the shift interlock solenoid (as was the case with a Nissan Altima) or the brake light switch.

There are several possible explanations for why you may be having trouble changing gears. Make sure to have the issue checked out by an automotive professional, so it doesn’t become worse or impact the safety of you and your passengers.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located near Dale City, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Transmission fluid exchanges can help your transmission last

In Transmission, Transmission Flush by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

It’s important for car owners to know what their vehicle needs and to go to a reputable mechanic or repair shop. 

If they don’t, there could be consequences down the road. 

One of our technicians installed a new transmission on a 2016 RAM 2500 SLT.

A few weeks ago, the customer came in after the check engine light turned on. They had also noticed the truck revved high when they were shifting into fifth and sixth gear.

Initially, we tried to address this problem by performing a transmission fluid exchange. Unfortunately, due to a lack of maintenance, the transmission was too far gone.

To get to the transmission, the technician removed many components, including the front drive shaft, rear drive shaft, transfer case, and parts of the exhaust system.

What does a transmission do?

The transmission is a component that transfers the engine’s power to the wheels. Without it, a vehicle isn’t able to run correctly.

What are signs that a transmission is going bad?

Difficulty switching gears is one sign that a transmission is going bad. Drivers may notice a grinding or crunching noise, as well.

What happens during a transmission fluid exchange?

The contaminants in the transmission fluid tend to stick to the sides. So, we start a transmission fluid exchange by injecting a cleaner that suspends the contaminants in the fluid.

Doing this enables us to get the broken down fluid out.

Our technicians replace old transmission fluid with new fluid using a BG Transmission Fluid Exchange Machine. 

Once the exchange is complete, we add in a conditioner that increases the effectiveness of the transmission fluid and extends its lifespan.

BG makes a variety of products, including BG Quick Clean, conditioners, as well as fluid for manual transmissions and different types of automatic transmissions. 

Here is a video about the transmission flush process:

When should you have a transmission fluid exchange done?

We suggest having a transmission fluid flush performed every 30,000 miles.

How often you should do this service is also based on the manufacturer’s recommendations. Some encourage brake fluid exchanges more frequently.

There are also a couple of signs indicating that the fluid needs to be changed. These include a burnt smell and fluid appearing darker.

Why should you have a transmission fluid exchange performed?

Transmissions experience a lot of stress as you travel through traffic, causing operating temperatures to arise. That coupled with oxidation leads the transmission fluid to break down.

The transmission is one of the most expensive parts of a vehicle. Transmission fluid exchanges clean the transmission, helping it last.

In the case of the 2016 RAM, regular transmission fluid exchanges were not done.

Taking the time to learn about and keep up with the services your vehicle needs is worth it. This maintenance can prevent components from going bad prematurely and help you avoid expensive repairs.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

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Signs of a bad manual transmission

In Transmission by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Transmissions play an important role in making sure your vehicle runs properly.

The transmission is responsible for taking the power from the engine and moving it to the wheels. 

They used to be three-speed. Now, it’s common to have four and five-speed transmissions. Some cars have up to seven gears.

How to tell if you have a bad manual transmission

A new manual transmission was installed in a Ford Fiesta.

The driver had noticed that it switched out of gear when they moved from a stoplight in first gear. They needed to hold it in gear until the vehicle picked up enough speed.

Typically, a grinding or crunching sound can be heard if a car has a bad manual transmission. It may also be difficult to switch gears. 

However, these symptoms don’t necessarily indicate that something is wrong with your transmission. They could also mean that your clutch is going bad.

Driving styles can impact the lifespan of a transmission. Some cars can go thousands of miles before they need a new one. They can go bad within weeks if you don’t know how to drive the car correctly.

Clutch Disc.

Clutch Disc

New clutch and flywheel needed

In addition to gaining a new transmission, the Ford Fiesta received a new clutch and flywheel.

The clutch disc links the transmission with the engine by engaging the flywheel and pressure plate.

When you press in the clutch pedal, it disengages the clutch disc from the flywheel.

When you release the clutch pedal after switching gears, the pressure plate engages the clutch disc engaging the flywheel.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.

Noticing car problems after storm? Get them checked out.

In Alignment, Fluids, Maintenance, Safety, Tires and Wheels, Transmission by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

Last weekend the entire area was pelted with more than a foot of snow, with up to almost three feet in some places! Even though the snow has stopped and you’ve managed to dig out your driveway to get back on the roads, you may be experiencing some car problems following the storm.

Here are some common issues that our technicians at Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire has seen following the blizzard, that you should get checked out as soon as possible:

  1. If you’ve been driving on icy roads in your neighborhood, hitting blocks of snow and debris on your travels, or even running into curbs hidden beneath the snow, then you run the risk of a flat tire. Our technicians will be able to assess the damage to your tires if you’ve got a flat, and make recommendations on repair or replacement.
  2. If you own a truck or you’ve been out plowing, the storm likely put a lot of strain on your vehicle. Particularly if you were moving over large amounts of snow, or were trying to plow streets, it’s not uncommon for a vehicle’s transmission to be damaged. We’re seeing several plows at our shop this week to fix transmission related issues.
  3. One the most common things we’re seeing is damage to vehicles’ windshield wipers. Even if you lifted them up before the storm, the weight of the snow on the front of your car, or placing the wipers back on the windshield before all snow and ice were completely removed can cause them to be bent or broken. This is something our technicians can quickly switch out for you, and get you back on the road in no time.
  4. When heading out on the road after digging your car out, you may have noticed some shaking and vibration while driving. While this could be another more involved issue with your vehicle, a lot of the cars we’ve seen this week were having this shaking in their car because ice and snow were still in the rim wheel of the tires, throwing off the car’s balance.
  5. Hitting curbs or icy patches won’t only cause a potential flat tire – it can also mess with your vehicle’s alignments. Particularly after hitting chunks of ice or other debris, if you notice your car pulling to one side on flat pavement, then it’s a good idea to bring your car to a shop to have it looked at.
  6. Not able to use your wiper fluid to clear your windshield? Drivers that didn’t check their washer fluid to make sure it was at appropriate levels and the right mixture before the storm may be having issues with using their wipers correctly, as the wiper fluid is frozen inside.

The storm may have kept you from going out, but don’t let vehicle issues stop you too. Our technicians and service advisers at Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire can inspect your vehicle to make sure that everything’s in working order, and get you safely back out on the road this winter.