Is It Time To Change Your Transmission Fluid?

Transmission Fluid ChangeWhen a person starts driving, one of the most important things for them to learn is proper car maintenance. Many people know the basics, such as checking their motor oil. They may know that the motor oil in their vehicle needs to be changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. They may also know that if they don’t change the oil regularly then they risk severe damage to their engine. What many new drivers don’t realize is that there are other fluids in their car that require just as much attention.

Transmission Fluid

Transmission fluid keeps a car moving smoothly, by lubricating the gears, which helps your car perform better. The transmission is a closed system, which means the fluid should not run low. Since the fluid doesn’t run out, many new drivers believe that it never needs to be changed. They believe it’s safe to drive with the same transmission fluid for years. However, driving with the same transmission fluid for years, can pose a danger.

When any lubricating liquid, like transmission fluid or motor oil, breaks down it cannot adequately lubricate the car’s gears. For some, the deterioration of the transmission fluid never becomes a major issue, but for others it can lead to severe damage. The damage caused may depend on the risk factors that result in the fluid breaking down.

Some of the risk factors include:

  • Excessive hauling and towing
  • Using a manual transmission
  • Poor driving conditions
  • Frequent stop-and-go driving
  • Plowing snow
  • Periods of heavy use

These driving issues can cause the heat level in the transmission to increase. The extreme heat can break down the fluid’s components. Burnt transmission fluid is not an effective lubricant. A person who does not experience the driving issues mentioned above, may not experience fluid breakdowns for years. However, the above risk factors can expedite the deterioration of the liquid.

Don’t forget your car’s brakes. If you live in Western Washington, try Brake Repair Tacoma.

Should You Change Your Oil?

Many people have different opinions of how often transmission fluid should be changed. The best answer is found in the car’s owner’s manual. Most manuals recommend changing the transmission fluid every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. The recommendations in the manual are based on testing done on that particular vehicle.

The information in the manual is a reliable and should be followed. However, if a driver knows that their driving involves some of the risk factors, then they should adjust the recommendations to fit their driving habits. For example, if the vehicle will be used to tow a fishing boat during the summer, then the car may require a fluid change earlier than recommended in the manual.

How about a 10 minute tranny fluid change? Watch this…

How Do You Check It?

The method to check the transmission fluid is similar to how the motor oil is tested. There is a dipstick. When checking the transmission fluid, the driver should not be worried about the level. Since the transmission is a closed system, the oil level should never decrease. What should be checked is the quality of the transmission fluid. The fluid should be relatively clean and have a reddish or pink color. If the liquid is light to dark brown and has a burnt smell, then it needs to be changed.

Average Price of a Transmission Fluid Change

Changing transmission fluid is a relatively inexpensive maintenance job. The average cost will be between $60 and $100. The price may be more if the transmission filter needs to be replaced. This repair is well worth the investment because it prolongs the life of your transmission and improves driving performance.

Signs Your Car Battery Needs Replacement

Battery Indicator LightApparently, there is no feeling like that downcast feeling you get when you put your key into your car ignition, turn it, and nothing happens. You try it again and again before you are hit with the cold realization that your battery is dead. Indeed, it is one of the most awful feelings in the world.

Your vehicle’s battery is like its heart; without that battery, your vehicle would not have the power to start moving. As a result, it is important to equip yourself with relevant information about your vehicle’s battery. This will help you keep your eyes and ears open to the telltale signs that might suggest your battery requires replacement. Some of these signs include:

Slow Engine Crank

One of the key signs that your vehicle’s battery requires replacement is slow engine crank. You will note that when you attempt to start your vehicle, the engine’s crank will often be sluggish and your vehicle will take longer than normal to start. The battery plays a pivotal role in starting your car; hence, when the battery is faulty, your car might fail to start. When you find yourself with a vehicle that won’t start, you can use a jump-starter box or a jumper cables to get your car running before you replace the battery.

Dim Lights or No Lights at All

Apart from powering the engine, the vehicle battery also needs to produce enough juice to run all the various electronic components in your car. When your car’s lights start to dim, this might be a telling sign that your battery is faulty. Even though dimming lights might be an indication that your car battery has not been charged properly, it can also suggest that you need to replace your vehicle battery.

Modern vehicles have many electronic accessories including power seats, windshield wipers, power windows, radio and many more. All this need a good battery in order to functional properly. If any of them start to function unevenly, you will first need to check power loss due to unclean battery terminals. If the terminals are clean, then it might be time for a battery replacement.

Swelling or a Bloating Battery Case

A car battery can be defined as a chemical reaction contained in a box. Due to being exposed to excessive amounts of heat or cold, the sides of the battery can bulge or swell. If you notice you battery looks like something that is about to explode, then it is time for a battery replacement. It is highly recommended that you remove your car’s battery from the car during the winter season if you are not going to be using the car. Freezing and swelling might result in an electrically “dead” battery that will require immediate replacement.

Conclusively, apart from taking note of the above signs, it is important that take good care of your vehicle battery. Make sure that you keep it charged in order to avoid any problems while you are driving your car. A battery that is neglected and poorly charged is bound to become faulty. Old age can also be a sign that your vehicle battery requires replacement. On average a car battery should last about four to five years depending on usage and factors such as exposure to extreme temperatures.

Below is a helpful video on this topic:

Tips For Getting Your Car Ready For Winter

Winter Emergency KitFor most car owners, driving during winter is a nightmare. However, if you make preparations early enough, you can avoid all the hassles that come with it. There are many winter mornings when your car engine will not start and you might also lack enough traction in your tires to keep control of the road. Well, if you want to avoid those frustrations, here are some useful steps to help you prepare your vehicle for winter.

  1. Start by checking your car battery. Due to the cold weather, car batteries are often on the fritz forcing the car not to start. Well, before the cold weather hits, you should check the battery thoroughly and have a charging system ready just in case.
  2. Fill the cooling system with antifreeze. Every one or 2 years, you should flush out the cooling system in your car engine and refill it with antifreeze to make it easier to function during the cold weather.
  3. Check the wipers to make sure they are still sharp enough to clear out the snow and debris falling on your windshield. Always store some spare windshield washing solution ready just in case you have to do a rushed cleaning when the blades can’t function properly.
  4. Test the heater and defrosting system to make sure it’s working properly. That way, you can rest assured that you will not be stuck or stranded in your car on a cold winter night when the heater isn’t working.
  5. Change the oil and filter in accordance with the recommendations stated by the car manufacturer. If you live in a very cold climate, you should add winter weight oil. Don’t forget to check the air, transmission filters and fuel system to make sure everything is working as it should.
  6. If your car needs a tune-up, make sure it’s done before the cold weather starts. That way, you can avoid any sluggish performance, tough starts or any car idling problems.
  7. Check the brakes to make sure they are in a good working condition. If necessary, you should replace the brake pads. Remember, during winter, cars need exceptional braking systems in case the driver loses control on the road.
  8. Ask your mechanic to check your exhaust system for stability and carbon monoxide leaks. Most people store their cars in the garages during the cold weather so any leaks would fill the interior with carbon monoxide. When you turn on your car in the morning, always do so with the garage doors open to avoid inhaling the dangerous fumes.
  9. Before winter comes, check the tires to make sure that they have enough pressure and tread. If they need replacing, do so before the cold weather sets in to make it easier to drive around. During the entire cold season, be on the lookout for the tire pressure. Depending on your location, invest in snow tires with special treads that allow you to drive through slick roads with ease. Check all the tires including the spare one.
  10. Check all the lights, both interior and exterior to make sure they are working properly. In some situations, visibility during the winter season can be difficult. With working lights, you can warn other drivers and avoid dangerous accidents.
  11. Check your gas tank regularly to make sure it’s at least half full at all times. This will keep any moisture from accumulating in the gas lines. Also, you can always count on having enough gas for your drive in case you’re stranded on the road due to bad weather.
  12. As for the windows, you should buy ice paper and snow brush to make sure they are always clear and allow better visibility.
  13. Don’t forget other emergency supplies such as jumper cables, flares, blankets, flashlights, bottled water, first aid kit, food, candles etc. That way, when you’re stranded, you can always have enough supplies to sustain you till help comes. If possible, you can always keep some extra clothes in the car to keep you warm during the cold weather.

The AAA also has some great winter driving tips here.

Oil Change Frequency

Oil Indicator LampModern vehicles have been manufactured with cleaner, stronger and more durable features than those of the previous years. Therefore, most vehicle experts are advising against frequent oil changes, especially after every 3000 miles. There are some cars that can travel up to 5000 miles between oil changes. However, that’s completely dependent on the make and model of the vehicle.

If you look at most car manuals today, you will find that this new perspective is being reflected all around, advocating for longer intervals between oil changes. There are some expectations that every car owner should consider and they include the following.

1. Tough Driving

The type of driving the car owner does is also as important as the mileage when considering oil change. If the vehicle is used to pull or carry heavy loads, the engine will be more stressed out causing it to operate at higher temperatures than expected.

A lot of heat destroys the lubricating capability of oil because it causes excessive oxidation. Therefore, when the engine is overheated, the oil needs to be changed more often. Don’t forget that driving on bumpy roads or unpaved surfaces also causes more stress to the engine besides towing heavy loads.

2. Environmental Conditions

If it’s hot outside, it’s quite obvious that the engine will also register hotter temperatures. Therefore, if you live in a region with warm weather all year round, you should change your engine oil more frequently. If the environment is also very dusty and polluted, there is also an increased risk of contamination of the engine fluids. That means, the motor oil will need to be replaced frequently because it will most likely get dirty. Therefore, if you’re living in one of the dusty towns, visit the car service station after every 3,000 miles to get an oil change.

3. Short Commuting Sessions

It’s unbelievable but short commutes each day might stress out your engine much more than longer ones. That’s because the short commutes don’t allow the engine to reach optimal temperatures for proper functioning. Eventually, this will degrade the lubricating fluids. The excess fuel often spills into the motor oil thereby diluting it. The excess fuel is usually necessary because colder engines use more gas than warmer ones. The fuel can also degrade the lubricating chemicals in the motor oil.

4. High Performance Engines

If your vehicle is running on a turbo-charged engine, it will definitely run on hotter temperatures than a regular engine. Regardless of whether you use synthetic blends or not, it’s prudent to change your oil frequently with high performance engines. It also applies to those who live in warm environments, drive very hard and drive in high speeds from time to time.

5. Age Of The Engine

If your odometer has counted more miles, you can bank on the motor being very dirty. Therefore, the motor oil used to lubricate the engine will definitely get very dirty very fast. Dirty motor oil has less lubricating capability than clean motor oil. Therefore, it will cause friction that will lead to damage of most of the vital parts of the engine. Therefore, vehicles that have higher mileage and older engines should have regular oil changes.

Consider these factors when choosing to change motor oil and make a wise decision for your engine!

Solve Your Car’s Overheating Issues

Your Car ThermostatIf your engine is overheating, that’s the first sign of trouble. The overheating could kill the engine during a drive leaving you stranded on the side of the road. Even worse, when your car eventually gets to the repair shop, you could be in for a massive bill. It’s easy to detect when your car is running hot.

Imagine a scenario when you’re sitting in traffic waiting for the traffic light to go green. Meanwhile you’re busy praying that the traffic jam opens up a little for the car to get some air into the radiator allow the temperature indicator to go down. Such a scenario can be very stressful for any car owner and nobody should ever have to go through this. Here are a few things you should lookout for that might make your engine overheat.

1. Low Levels Of Coolant
In most cases, engines will overheat if there isn’t enough coolant. Remember, the cooling system in your engine relies on the coolant to circulate any heat or remove it completely. If there isn’t enough coolant, there will be a buildup of heat leading to overheating of the engine.

You might choose to run the heater for longer periods especially during the summer but this isn’t helpful if there isn’t enough coolant in the radiator to allow transfer of heat. Therefore, if you detect that your engine is running hot, the first thing to do is check the coolant level to make sure it’s enough.

2. Failure Of The Electric Cooling Fan
If the electric cooling fan doesn’t do its job, the engine will definitely overheat. The fan pulls in cool air through the radiator in situations when the car isn’t going too fast and rams it through the front part. Put this to test by allowing the engine to overheat by letting the car stay idle for some time. If your engine is constantly overheating when you’re in traffic, you should be on the lookout for the temperature gauge.

If the heat levels are rising and nearing the danger zone, pop up the hood and check to see whether the fan is still running or not. If it’s the latter, you need to figure out what’s the cause. In most cases, the fan might not be running because of two reasons. First, the fan could be defective causing the motor to burn out without the fan turning on.

To put this to the test, you should look for the switch to the radiator fan and disconnect the wiring.  Next, get a jumper cable and insert it into both electrical contacts allowing the fan to turn on. You can also test it by turning on the air conditioning. Most cars usually activate the fan at varying speeds when the air conditioning is turned on.

Secondly, the switch to the radiator fan could be defective. The switch basically turns on the fan when the engine coolant reaches a specific temperature level. As mentioned above, you can test whether the switch is working by disconnecting the wiring and connecting using a jumper cable. If the fan comes on, you should immediately replace the defective switch.

3. Defective Thermostat
A defective thermostat can easily cause the engine to overheat at any moment, especially when you’re driving too fast. At lower speeds, it’s not easy to detect a defective thermostat because it’s not being overworked. At faster speeds, there is a lot of coolant flowing through to stop the engine from overheating. Therefore, if the thermostat is defective, it’s not easy for the coolant to get to the engine thereby causing it to overheat.

4. Broken Fan Belt
There are tons of car engines that use a fan belt to activate the cooling fan. If there is a belt attached to your engine, you should regularly check it to avoid any tough situations. It’s quite an advantage compared to engines that use the electric fan because broken fan belts can be repaired very easily.

5. Clogged Radiator
Cars with over 50,000 miles can easily have clogged radiators. To avoid this and other issues such as old coolant, you should clean out the radiator every year. Don’t forget to check the engine oil regularly to make sure that the engine is getting enough lubrication.

Now that you know the common causes of engine overheating, you can easily avoid them and make sure your car engine is in top shape!

All About Cars, Trucks, and Vehicles

by Paul Layton

It’s time to begin!

We’ve been waiting quite a long time to do this, and the site redesign is only the first step. If you are into cars, trucks, motorcycles, or any other type of vehicles… if you like fixing them, repairing them, working on them… if you are into engines, transmissions, high-performance tires, or anything else car or truck related, we want you to check out and enjoy the content we place here.

It might take us a little time to find and share the auto related stuff we know you’ll love, but we think it’s worth the effort, and we hope you will too! The bottom line is that we, too, are car buffs. We like to repair our own cars, adjust the timing, tweak the fuel injection, diagnose the problems, and help each other do it.

Stop back again soon. We think you will like what you find.