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General Inspection – AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSIONS

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PURPOSE
The automatic transmission selects the correct gear to provide maximum power, economy and driver comfort.  Transmissions have changed over the years and now are computerised which makes them more expensive to repair.  Also the transmission is forever changing, making it impossible to supply the same transmission fluid for every make of vehicle.  If the transmission is computerised then the fault code should be accessed and read for stored problems.  So in other words, the transmission computer will store transmission problems if they occur and these problems need to be accessed and rectified.  An automatic transmission should be serviced every 20,000-30,000Kms to prevent problems arising.

THINGS TO LOOK FOR
An automatic transmission is an expensive component in any vehicle, so it must be maintained.  Part of this is observing the transmission for any leaks or if the transmission needs to be topped up.  If this does occur, it is leaking somewhere and needs attention.  A leaking transmission is a dangerous one as it may be leaking onto an exhaust component making the fluid flammable.  Also it may be leaking onto the road making it potentially fatal for other road users such as motorcycles.
An automatic transmission pre 1980 was designed to use a common transmission fluid.  Vehicles after this date require specific transmission fluids to suit individual vehicles.  So care must be taken if your transmission fluid needs to be topped up.  Ask your local spare parts dealer for the correct transmission fluid for your vehicle.  The transmission dip stick will tell you it’s own story, even how to check the level.  The level is not straightforward because each transmission may require a different technique for checking.  The best way to check the level is to read the dip stick.  If there are no instructions, then select PARK with the hand brake on and the engine still running, reverse the dip stick and wipe it with a rag, then dip it all the way home and then read where the level is. 

IS IT EXPENSIVE TO REPAIR?
A transmission leak may not be expensive to repair depending on where the leak is.  On the other hand, a transmission may be very expensive to repair so shop around for the best price that includes a 12 month warranty and keep the receipt in your Virtual Mechanic folder.  Overhaul transmissions sometimes will have repeat problems.  This is another reason to make sure you go to a good, reliable repairer.

TEMPORARY REPAIR AND LONG TERM REPLACEMENT
A good transmission repair is not necessarily measured by the cost of the repair but the quality of the repair.
This article is found in the Virtual mechanic CD Rom
You can download it for the price of a latte, but you will learn not to buy a lemon
By Darren Gow-Brown, Melbourne Australia ©2009

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