Frequently Asked Questions

What is considered normal maintenance for my transmission?

Normal maintenance consists primarily of checking the transmission fluid quality, replacing if necessary and periodically having the transmission filter replaced.

Having your transmission serviced annually is the best defense against transmission problems. Although routine maintenance can be performed by most repair shops or auto dealerships, we recommended you have your transmission serviced by a transmission expert.

What is a transmission service?

A transmission service, is the process of draining the transmission fluid and replacing the filter; similar to an engine oil & filter change for your transmission.

Many vehicles today have an internal serviceable filter that should be changed every 18,000 to 50,000 miles. This filter is internally located and accessible by removing the transmission pan.

    For vehicles with an internal serviceable filter, a transmission service at our shop includes:

  • A preliminary transmission fluid level and color check
  • A preliminary test drive and manual linkage check
  • Transmission leak inspection
  • Transmission oil pan removal & cleaning
  • Pan gasket replacement & band adjustment (if applicable)
  • Filter replacement or screen cleaning
  • A final test drive, leak inspection & fluid level check

The transmission oil pan and filter is removed and inspected for metal particles and friction material. Next the pan is cleaned in a heated pressure washer, similar to a dish washer, along with the pan bolts and magnet in the bottom of the pan. If your transmission doesn’t have a magnet, as some may not, we will add a magnet to protect your transmission from future metal particles circulating and accelerating wear. The filter is replaced, the clean pan is installed and new fluid is added to the full mark and the vehicle taken on another test drive to insure its proper operation.

Tiny metal particles in the transmission pan are normal for most vehicles. Even a moderate amount of metal particles do not necessarily indicate a problem. Servicing your transmission and removing these particles, keeping the filter, pan and magnet clean is your best defense to protecting your transmission.

Why is it important to service my transmission?

Particles and Debris
During the lifespan of any transmission, normal wear creates small particles and debris. This is a totally natural occurrence and no need for alarm; that’s just the way it works. However, as these particles circulate throughout the transmission, their abrasive nature tends to create even more particles and the amount of debris grows exponentially. A little known additional fact is that these particles, or solids, generate more heat because they can restrict cooling, create more friction between the hundreds of rotating parts inside your transmission and wear critically important hydraulic components such as; your transmission pump and valve body. To sum it all up, the more particles and solid debris, the more friction, heat and wear can occur.

Minimizing Wear, Extending Life
While you can’t do anything to prevent the naturally occurring debris from being created, you can do something to minimize it and thereby greatly prolonging the life of your transmission. And that something is a transmission service and an Allen’s Transmission Natural Fluid Exchange. A fluid exchange removes the circulating particles and debris, thereby reducing friction and heat. A clean and well lubricated transmission simply runs cooler.

What is a Allen’s Transmission Natural Fluid Exchange

An Allen’s Transmission Natural Fluid Exchange is our unique way to exchange your transmission fluid without using a possibly harmful machine. Our procedure includes replacing your filter and exchanging the transmission fluid by using your transmission’s pump; the very pump that circulates your transmission fluid every time you start your vehicle. It starts with taking your vehicle on a road test; preforming a fluid and linkage check and then lifting it onto a hoist for a leak inspection.

Removing the Pan
Next we remove the transmission oil pan, draining the fluid and removing the transmission filter. The pan is cleaned in a heated pressure washer, similar to a dish washer, along with the pan bolts and magnet in the bottom of the pan. If your transmission doesn’t have a magnet, as some may not, we will add a magnet to protect your transmission from future metal particles circulating and accelerating wear.

New Filter and Pan Gasket
We install a new transmission filter and pan gasket (if applicable). We torque the pan bolts to factory specifications to insure a proper seal. We then fill your transmission with full synthetic transmission fluid (Unless it is not compatible).

Our Natural Method
The next step in the fluid exchange procedure is to disconnect the transmission return line from the radiator, or cooler, returning to the transmission. This is where we divert the old fluid returning to your transmission. Next we fill fresh fluid into the transmission and start your vehicle’s engine. (Because we already removed the pan and changed the fluid and filter, your transmission is picking up only new fluid). The pump inside your transmission pushes the old fluid out as new fluid is being drawn through the new filter and into the pump. New fluid is being pumped in to replace the old fluid, for every quart of old fluid we get out, a quart of new synthetic fluid is being filled into the transmission until all old fluid is in the waste container and new fluid is in the transmission. When a worthy amount of fresh fluid comes out of the return line, we turn off the vehicle, re-connect the return line and top off the fluid. No harmful Flush Machines are used on your vehicle.

After a transmission fluid level check, we check over your transmission pan and lines for leaks and then test drive your vehicle. Once we have returned from the final road test, we re-check your transmission fluid level. Some vehicles may even need to be electronically reset or re-learned after the fluid exchange.

Note some transmissions have an internal filter that is not accessible. In cases where the filter is not accessible, the procedure is the same with exception to removal of the pan and replacement on the filter. In many cases where the internal filter is not accessible there is a replaceable external filter, or in-line filter.

What kind of repairs do you do?

We have been rebuilding & repairing automatic transmissions since 1980. There are other types of work that we specialize in that will be listed below. It is important to understand that we would prefer you have an honest, capable general repair shop do your non-transmission related repairs. However, there is an exception to the rule. If your vehicle needs a repair while we’re doing our work, which will either save you money or considerable time, we’ll be happy to help you. The work we specialize in follows:

  • Automatic transmission rebuilding, repair and replacement
  • Manual transmission replacement
  • Routine maintenance service on automatic and manual transmissions, transfer cases and differentials
  • 4×4 repairs including transfer case and control components
  • Clutch replacement & repairs including hydraulics
  • Differential Repairs and gear ratio changes
  • Specialty Differential locker kits
  • Electronic computer reprogramming
  • Electronic diagnosis and repairs
  • Electronic sensor and computer replacement
  • Axle and drive shaft repairs
  • Universal joints and CV boots and joints
  • Wheel and axle bearing repairs
  • Motor and transmission mount replacement
  • Ball joint, Strut & control arm replacement.
  • Transmission coolers, cooler lines & cooling systems installation, including radiators
  • Brake pads, brake rotors, drums, hardware and hydraulic braking system replacement

How can I prolong the life of my transmission?

  • By having your transmission regularly serviced; changing the filter and fluid.
  • Replacing your transmission fluid with full synthetic transmission fluid.
  • Being vigilant of any minor leaks.
  • Checking the transmission fluid level periodically.
  • Come to a complete stop when selecting a gear such as drive or reverse.
  • Do not rock your vehicle back and forth out of a ditch or snow bank when stuck.
  • Do not drive your vehicle if you are experiencing shifting problems.

Is it ok to use a different type of transmission fluid in my transmission?

The short answer is no.
For example, if your vehicle requires Mercon V and an earlier formulation such as Dexron Mercon fluid is used, it may cause shifting problems, overheating and failure of your transmission. There are many reasons why the formula was changed. In short, the viscosity requirements are not met with the earlier designed fluids for your late model transmission’s internal clutch plates and valve bodies. Using the older designed fluids with higher viscosity that your late model transmission was not designed to use, can cause overheating which will cause failure. The newer fluids have a lower viscosity, which equals better flow and less resistance.

Newer fully synthetic fluids have been designed that may meet and or exceed many manufacturer’s viscosity requirements of many fluids; however they still may not be best for your transmission. If there is a compatibility question, just stick with your vehicles recommended fluid. Do not use the wrong type or multi-purpose fluids just because they are less expensive; they may present an expensive problem immediately.

Why won’t my vehicle move?

There are several possible reasons why a vehicle will not move.

    Here are some common reasons why an automatic transmission won’t move.

  • The transmission has leaked two or more quarts of its 8 to 16 quart capacity and it can’t develop the hydraulic pressure the transmission needs to operate. You may normally see fluid or spots on the ground if it is two or more quarts low and the vehicle may try to move or move minimally once the fluid has warmed up. Verify the cause by adding fluid till it’s full and if it moves, the low fluid and the resulting lack of hydraulic pressure was the problem.
  • If it stops moving when hot, the problem may be a clogged filter. This may be accompanied with a whine and if you turn the engine off for a few minutes, it may want to move again for a short distance. This problem is usually indicative of a transmission wearing out.
  • Another reason a vehicle won’t move that you can check yourself is to see if the gear shift forthe 4 wheel drive control has been accidentally knocked into neutral.
  • If it is a front wheel drive car or mini-van, either of the front axles could pull out of the Transaxle (transmission) or break. You would instantly stop moving forward and reverse. A telling symptom of this problem is while the gear shift is in drive and engine is running, the speedometer needle moves, as if you’re driving down the road. If the vehicle rolls when placed in park, can be another sign of an axle problem. You may experience the same symptoms if the differential section of your transaxle failed as well, but it will probably make lots of clanking noise.
  • The other causes of a no-move condition usually have to be diagnosed by a professional. They include hydraulic pump failure, cracked flywheel, failed sun-gear shell, worn out clutch plates, linkage problem and a variety of other internal problems & even an external electronic control device.
    Now its time to talk about why a manual transmission won’t move

  • The number one cause is the clutch components have worn out and no longer have enough friction material to overcome the weight of the vehicle.
  • A second possibility is the transmission can be stuck in two gears at the same time and it won’t move.
  • The shift mechanism can malfunction and keep you from selecting a gear.
  • Finally, any number of internal gears and shafts can fail resulting in no movement. This can be caused by abnormal wear or even operating the transmission with low lube that developed from a small leak.

Can I tow my car with the drive-wheels on the ground?

You can……if it has a manual transmission placed in neutral or a four wheel drive vehicle with the 4X4 control shifted into neutral. Why this is possible with a manual transmission is because as the driving wheels roll, they turn gears inside the manual transmission and it self lubricates as a result of the gears spinning in the lubricant, which is then transferred to other parts. In the case of the 4X4, when shifted into neutral (the 4X4 control…..not the transmission gearshift) it completely disconnects the transmission from the driving wheels.

Why you should not tow a two wheel drive vehicle, equipped with an automatic transmission, with the driving wheels on the ground; because catastrophic failure may occur. As the drive shaft or drive axles are turned by the wheels, they turn components inside the transmission. An automatic transmission is only lubricated when the engine is running, which produces hydraulic pressure that pumps fluid throughout to lubricate. If you don’t lubricate it, you may damage your automatic transmission.

Why won’t my gearshift come out of park?

You can’t move the gearshift because the “brake inter-lock”, a safety item, is not allowing the shifter to move. This inter-lock was placed in all vehicles to prevent the driver, especially children, from shifting out of park without having the brake pedal depressed. It is hard for kids to reach the brake pedal and pull on the gearshift at the same time.

The cause of this problem may be as simple as a wiring connector, wiring, or the actual brake inter-lock solenoid. The cause of the problem is usually not very expensive.

How can you be sure you’re choosing the right repair shop?

Use your network of friends, family, co-workers and other businesses to guide you in the right direction. Ask the people you trust, “who would you go to if you needed transmission repair”? Then follow up that question with, “what is it about that company that makes you confident enough to recommend them”?

If you ask six or eight people and hear one name repeated more than others and for the reasons that make you comfortable, take the next step which is to “interview” the business in person or by phone. Your common sense and experience will help you decide if they are someone you want to do business with.

Remember, once you have found someone you can trust, you can use their network to find other trustworthy people. All you have to do is ask.

How long should I expect my car or truck to last?

As reported some years ago by the Raybestos Company (an international manufacturer of automobile parts) vehicles built in America in 1980 could be expected to live, on average, 100,000 miles. By 1986 they would last 150,000 miles and by 1993….. 200,000. It is commonly believed vehicles produced after the year 2000 will achieve 250,000 to 300,000 miles before being retired to the salvage yard. In fact, the federal government thinks they will be on the road for 20 to 25 years.

Vehicles produced in the last 20 years are more expensive than those built years earlier because of the tremendous development and engineering investments made to make them more fuel efficient, less polluting and longer lasting. With their increased cost and life expectancy, it is financially prudent to maintain, repair and continue to use these longer lasting vehicles. It is far more sustainable than throwing them away as we did years ago.

What’s the difference between a flush and a transmission service?

There are two significant differences between a transmission service (routine maintenance) and a flush (also called a fluid exchange). A transmission service is the process of draining the transmission fluid and replacing the filter; similar to an engine oil & filter change for your transmission. A transmission service includes removal of the transmission pan (where applicable). A “pan drop service” allows a tech to view any debris that may have worn off the internal parts of the transmission. During a service, approximately 40-45% (4 to 8 quarts) of the transmission’s fluid is changed.

A transmission flush is a process of disconnecting the transmission’s cooling lines at the radiator. A flush removes close to 90-100% of the fluid. The pan is not removed and the flush ALONE does not allow for the filter to be replaced.

What is a transmission slip & what does slipping mean.

A slip is when your transmission is in gear (drive or reverse), but it feels like it is in neutral or your vehicle is barely moving. When driving the vehicle, a slip may occur if the RPM’s are higher than normal and the engine may sound like it is racing. The first thing that should be checked if your transmission is slipping is the transmission fluid level. If your transmission is slipping it means that there is a problem that needs to be inspected by a professional.