Your vehicle is a compilation of hydraulic, electrical, emissions and mechanical systems working together to provide you safe and reliable transportation. Brakes to stop you. Engine and transmission to move you along the road. Emission control systems to keep our planet safe. And of course, electrical to power all the multiple creature comforts. All these systems are interconnected through multiple networks that constantly monitor the safe operation of your vehicle.
When your vehicle has an issue, it communicates with you through how it runs and drives, and through dashboard warning lights. This information is the starting point to determining the source of the issue. Often the condition must be reproduced to gather information and properly diagnose the issue. Some information is hidden within the vehicle’s multiple computers. All the available information needs to be gathered by the technician during a vehicle inspection, such as fluid colors, levels and even smells. When you get the engine code(s) scanned at the local auto parts store, that information is only one piece of data that exists for the issue. In fact, that code data is surface data which is the only thing their basic scan tools can unlock. Most times there are multiple codes, new and stored that can be look at with an advanced scanner tool. Even when your check engine light is not on, your vehicle may have codes stored within your vehicles control systems.
When it comes to transmissions, only a few shops have the training and experience to diagnose, repair, reprogram and rebuild transmissions. Most shops can swap a transmission with a used or remanufactured transmission, but what if it’s not the transmission? What if it’s the transmission but the unit can be repaired, reprogrammed and not replaced? The reality of perceived transmission issues is that more than 50% of the time it is found not to be related to the transmission or is a minor transmission issue that is easily repaired.
A proper diagnosis of your transmission issue can only be done with the vehicle at the transmission repair shop. With the internet everyone uses Google to diagnose their vehicle’s issues in much the same way people visit WebMD when they are sick. But when you call the Doctor for a prescription, the first thing the Doctor wants you to do is to make an appointment to be seen. Just like with self-diagnosing your health issues, self-diagnosing your vehicle issues will still require a visit to the transmission repair shop. Most people become convinced they have a major transmission issue based on incomplete information or based on the general repair shops recommendation for a transmission replacement (the only thing they can offer). Then the Customer starts to call around to get the best price on a transmission replacement. The best price is rarely the best option when it comes to your transmission. We have rebuilt, repaired and reprogrammed many transmissions that had been recently worked on by the lowest price shop. Paying twice for something only compounds your problem and defeats the benefits of the initial low price. At Milex Complete Auto Care / Mr. Transmission we receive a lot of transmission related calls. Most are looking for a price for replacement. When we insist on seeing the car prior to giving a price, it’s because we would like to perform multiple tests to determine our diagnosis. We don’t want to replace a transmission when a repair or reprogramming will suffice.
Most of the time it’s not the transmission. We evaluate a lot of transmissions each day but most of the time it’s something minor with the transmission or one of the other systems that is having an issue. For example; an engine misfire can feel like the transmission is slipping, a vehicle in “limp mode” feels like the transmission will not shift, and other times it is a wiring or a programming issue.
The bottom line is, replacement of your transmission is not always what is required. It may be the only option your repair shop offers. Also, look for a national warranty, a network of service centers to assist you no matter where you are and a complimentary transmission check. If your vehicle has symptoms that feel like a transmission that is acting up or a “Check Engine Light” comes on, seek out a transmission specialist like Milex Complete Auto Care / Mr. Transmission.