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Do you know what is the most frequently-asked question I hear? "How can I make my car last longer and still be safe?" That's why I decided to post important information on our website throughout the year. It's all about keeping you and your family safe and on the road. Be sure to check back often for new information, helpful safety tips, and great deals!

 


September 25, 2017
How can I Avoid Scams and Ripoffs when Purchasing Transmission Repair?

Automatic transmission repairs are expensive; some can easily cost $2000 or more. So it's more important than ever to find a shop that will provide quality repairs at a fair price. Here are few ways you can avoid getting cheated when searching for a transmission repair shop:

1. Get recommendations - Ask friends and family to recommend a shop where they were treated well and were happy with their work.
2. Look for a Professional Appearance - A clean, organized shop indicates a professional attitude. And that usually carries over into all phases of business… including their repairs and job pricing.
3. Avoid Phone Estimates - Today it's virtually impossible to give an accurate estimate over the phone. Any shop that will give you a price before they see the car is probably low-balling you. Expect the price to go up considerably before the job is finished.
4. Ask for a Detailed, Written Estimate - After checking your car thoroughly, the repair center should have a fairly good idea of what's wrong with your car. They should be able to provide a written estimate that specifies what's wrong, and what it'll cost to repair it.
5. Look for Membership in Consumer Organizations - Look for their Better Business Bureau rating. Not every repair goes as planned but what is most important is how the shop handles problems that can happen. You can also see if the shop is a mamber of ATRA (Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association). Membership shows that they employ ASE Certified Technicians who take their jobs very seriously.

 

August 24, 2017
Manual or Automatic? Which Transmission Saves More?

As consumers face rising prices at the gas pumps, more and more people are looking into buying a car equipped with a manual transmission instead of an automatic. But that change may not provide the desired effect for most drivers.

That's because today's automatics are lighter and more efficient than those of just a few years ago. So much so that only a highly motivated driver will have any hope of wringing substantially higher gas mileage our of a manual transmission.

What's more, the back-end costs of a manual will quickly eat away at any savings you might receive at the pump. Most drivers can expect to have the clutch replaced as often as every 30,000 miles or so. And when it comes time to sell or trade the car, they can expect a dramatic drop in value with a manual transmission.

For most people, an automatic transmission is a far better choice when buying a new car. They're more efficient, easier to drive, and last longer than those of just a few years ago.

 

 

July 25, 2017
Extend Transmission Life by Reducing Heat

The most common cause of automatic transmission failure is heat. You can get more miles out of your transmission by reducing the heat heat builds up during normal operation. Here are a few things you can do to help reduce heat, and keep your transmission working longer:

1. Avoid Jackrabbit Starts - Hard accelerations create a lot of friction and heat in the transmission. Take it easy on the gas, and your transmission will live longer.
   
2. Help the Shift - Most of the friction and wear in the transmission takes place during the shifts. Get to know when your transmission shifts normally. Then, just before the shift, back off on the gas just a bit. That'll reduce the load on the clutches, and eliminate much of the friction during the shift.
   
3. Keep the Cooling System in Good Shape - Your car's radiator also provides cooling for your transmission. And heat damage will take place in the transmission long before the engine appears to overheat. So regular cooling system service can help your transmission run cooler... and last longer.
   
4. Add a Transmission Cooler - If you travel a lot in extremely high temperatures or carry a lot of weight in your car, an auxiliary transmission cooler is a great way to reduce heat and add years to your transmission's life.

 

June 23, 2017
How do I know if I need a New Transmission

Your transmission suddenly isn't shifting right. So what's wrong with it? Do you need your transmission rebuilt? Good questions. Unfortunately, the answer is: No one knows. At least, not yet.

To find out what's causing your transmission problem, a technician is going to have to perform a series of tests. Basically, these tests are designed to answer the simple question: "Is it inside or outside?" That is, is the problem inside the transmission, or in one of the many control systems that operates the transmission?

That's because there's a lot more to transmission operation than the transmission itself. Nearly every transmission on the road today is controlled by a computer system. That system is integrated into the rest of the vehicle. So a problem in the engine - or for that matter, even the brakes - could have a dramatic effect on transmission operation.

In fact, today's transmissions are so integrated with the rest of the vehicle that many technicians with years of auto repair experience can have a difficult time determining whether a problem is inside the transmission or not. Until a properly trained and experienced transmission technician examines the vehicle and performs the necessary tests, there's no way anyone can tell you for sure what's wrong with your car's transmission. Once those tests are performed, a qualified technician should be able to tell you precisely whether you're dealing with a transmission problem or not. And he (or she) will be able to let you know what it'll take to fix your car and put it back into proper running condition.

The really great news is the vast majority of customers who bring their cars in with transmission problems don't actually need their transmissions rebuilt. In most cases the problem turns out to be external, which usually costs far less than a transmission rebuild. But the only way you can be sure you're only paying for the work you need is by bringing your car to a qualified transmission repair shop, such as Brownies Independent Transmission.

 

May 24, 2017
Buying a Safe Car for your Teen Driver

Most parents look for the best used car when shopping for their teen to save money, but although you may need to make compromises to stay within budget, don’t skimp on safety. Make sure the vehicle you buy has advanced safety features such as electronic stability control (ESC) and curtain airbags, as well as good crash-test results.

Choosing the best used car for a young driver will usually involve compromises among budget, desirable features, and the wants of an image-conscious teen. The best bet is to buy the newest, most reliable model with the most safety equipment you can afford. Do not even consider a car without antilock brakes. If you can reach a little deeper and get a car equipped with side and head-protection curtain airbags, antilock brakes, and electronic stability control, so much the better. The lifesaving assistance those systems can provide is worth every penny in an emergency situation, and they can be especially beneficial to an inexperienced driver.

As far as what type of vehicle is best, large pickups and SUVs are not recommended for young, inexperienced drivers because they are more prone to roll over than other vehicles. Sports cars increase the risk of speeding and have a higher rate of accidents, and consequently, they carry tuition-sapping insurance premiums.

Reliability is key when choosing a used car because it probably will not have the warranty protection common on new cars. Further, you may intend for your teen to drive this first car for years to come, while money is funneled to college and starting independent adult life.

But keep in mind that every used car gets treated differently. The older a car gets, the more its care and maintenance history will affect its overall performance and reliability. Once you have narrowed your shopping list to cars that are likely to be smart choices, have the specific car you are considering purchasing thoroughly inspected by a qualified automotive technician before you make the purchase. Brownies can help with our 30-Point Inspection and Diagnosis. We'll give you a report of the condition which you can use to negotiate the best deal possible.

 

April 24, 2017
Preventing a Transmission Breakdown

The Importance of Transmission Care

Prevention is better than cure. You've probably heard that said plenty of times. The phrase is most often used to talk about health and medicine, but it is just as valid to apply it to vehicles. It's great if your problem can be sorted without much trouble, but even better not to have a problem in the first place. This is especially true when it comes to your vehicle's transmission, as this can be one of the more specialized parts to repair. Not all transmission problems require an extensive overhaul, but they will all cause at least some trouble and inconvenience. Avoiding transmission problems is clearly preferable to even the problems that are quickest and cheapest repair. This is why it is important to ensure you take good care of your transmission. This will help prevent problems and keep it working smoothly. Ideally, it will mean that it doesn't develop any faults at all. Even if it does eventually go wrong, however, it is entirely possible that good care will mean the fault is less serious and easier to repair than it would have been otherwise.

Looking After Your Transmission

Good transmission care starts with simple but important things like making sure you don't neglect to check your transmission fluid regularly. This should be done roughly every 1,000 miles. As well as checking the level, pay attention to color and smell. If the color is unusually dark or the smell resembles burning, this could indicate the start of problems. The fluid should also be changed every 15,000 miles or every other year, depending on which comes first. Theoretically, transmission fluid has a much longer life than this. In practice, however, relatively simple things such as stop-and-go traffic or short journeys can drastically shorten its lifespan. For most drivers, assuming a lifespan of 15,000 miles or two years is the safest option. Certain driving practices can also help keep your transmission well cared-for. These include such easy steps as not overloading your vehicle and allowing it to warm up thoroughly on cold mornings. It is also important avoiding rocking between gears if your vehicle becomes stuck in mud or on ice. If you must rock, do so as gently as possible and make sure the wheels have stopped moving before each gear change. This will drastically reduce the strain placed on the transmission.

What if you Still Develop a Transmission Problem?

Unfortunately, there is no foolproof way to prevent transmission problems altogether. If this does happen, it is still possible to minimize the inconvenience it will cause. One of the best ways to do this is to ensure you have adequate and appropriate breakdown cover from your insurer. Of course, for most people this is a balancing act with price. This is where insurance comparison sites are very useful. They display not only prices, but the details of what each company offers, allowing you to compare how appropriate different packages are for you. This makes it far easier to find the best balance of cost and features. Before settling on a company, it is also important to find out more about their customer service and how helpful they are in the event of a breakdown. A bad insurer, that will take forever to pay for repairs or produce other promised features such as a courtesy car, will only add stress and trouble to your breakdown experience. Search for reviews of various providers online. This will allow you to read honest and independent feedback from independent bodies, and from everyday people who have used the company in the past.

Catching Problems Early

Once again, there is no way to completely guarantee your transmission will not develop a fault. However, even when a fault does begin to develop, there is still an element of problem prevention. Catching transmission problems early can prevent them from worsening and prevent further trouble from developing. This can potentially mean a simple repair instead of a major one. As such, it is vital to get any potential trouble looked at by a professional. It is also important to play it safe. If you think a problem is developing but you aren't sure, it can be better to get it checked by an expert than to wait until the problem gets bad enough to leave you in no doubt. If you notice anything odd about your transmission or sudden changes to the way your car drives, get it looked at by professionals. If you notice any changes to the way your transmission works, such as trouble changing gears or a delay before the gear seems to shift, get it looked at promptly to avoid further inconvenience.

 

March 23, 2017
Do ATF Additives Really Work?

As you stroll along the isles of your local auto parts store, you'll stumble across a section dedicated to automatic transmission fluid additives. The labels on these additives offer promises that range from simply making your transmission last longer, all the way up to a rebuild in a can.

The question is: Do these additives really work?

In most cases, unfortunately, the answer is no. In general, the additives that you'll find on the shelves of a consumer-oriented parts store won't really deliver on their extravagent promises. So what do these additives do? In general, they soften and swell the seals in your transmission. Over time, the seals inside an automatic transmission can become hard and brittle; losing their sealing qualities. These additives soften the seals so they begin to work again. The problem is they continue to soften and swell the seals to where they simply fall apart.

So, you have a minor leak or a delayed engagement problem in the morning. You add a can of Super Fix and in a day or so you notice the leak is gone and the transmission works much better. In a couple of months though, your transmission begins acting up and in six-months time it fails completely.

That's not to say all transmission additives are snake oil... far from it. There are some highly effective additives on the market that can significantly extend the life of your transmission. But chances are you won't find them on the shelves of your local auto parts store.

These effective additives are usually only available through your local transmission repair center. They make more realistic claims, such as:

Neutralize acids that build up in the transmission fluid.
Provide additional resistance to the effects of heat.
Prevent or reverse fluid oxidation.
Prevent or reverse fluid sheer.
Modify friction characteristics to improve transmission performance.
Provide additional lubrication to moving parts.
Soften and remove varnish from internal components.

While not as exciting as the claims made by the additives on the consumer shelf, these additives have the advantage of being able to deliver on their promises. Because of this, they can improve transmission operation and increase transmission life.

Check with a Brownies Independent Transmission Shop near you for more information on transmission additives that really work as advertised.

 

February 2, 2017
How Driving Conditions and Habits Affect Your Automatic Transmission

"1986 Chevrolet, 45,000 miles, only driven to the grocery store by elderly woman"

If you were in the market for a used car, this, ad might sound pretty goad. But it may not be as good a deal as it first appears. Vehicles driven occasionally or for short distances are often, subjected to unusual wear and strain. For example, cars that are consistently driven short distances never have the opportunity for the engine to warm up to normal operating temperature. This can cause excessive engine wear.

Low mileage transmissions subjected to city or stop-and-go miles usually experience far more wear than transmissions with the same number of highway miles. The mileage doesn't create as much wear as the number of times the transmission shifts up and down through its gear ranges.

Many other seemingly normal driving conditions can affect transmission life, such as extreme temperatures, mountainous terrain, snowy or icy roadways, and dirty air quality. Under normal driving conditions, vehicle manufacturers recommend servicing your transmission as seldom as every 100,000 miles. But what constitutes normal driving conditions?

If you check through the owner's manuals of the various auto manufacturers, they'll usually include most of these conditions as part of their description of normal driving conditions:

About 12,000 15,000 miles per year.
Engine. and transmission operating at normal operating temperature most of the time.
A mix of about-1/3 city driving, 2/3 highway.
Outside temperature usually moderate; not too hot or too cold.
Road surfaces dry and clear.
Relatively straight and level roadways; occasional, moderate hills or valleys.
Air quality moderate and clean.
No excessive speeds, jackrabbit starts, or hard braking.
Light to moderate loads; one or two passengers.: with very little weight added to the trunk or cargo space.
Tire pressures set properly and all at correct levels and condition.

As you can see, very few cars actually operate under normal driving conditions... which makes the term normal something of a misnomer. And variations in either direction tend to increase wear and damage to the vehicle.

If you operate your vehicle under more extreme conditions -- as most people do -- you'll want to reduce the time and mileage between maintenance services. Having your transmission serviced once a year, or at very least every other year, seems to be the consensus among transmission repair professionals.

Under the most extreme conditions, even more often may be advisable and you may want to install an external transmission filter and cooler for additional protection.

 

December 9, 2016
Best Ways of Keeping Your Car on the Road - Part 2

8.

Change Oil and Other Vital Fluids - Your car's fluids will often be changed during regular service intervals, but it's important enough that we wanted to mention it separately. As you drive your car, and even if it just sits in the driveway, your car's fluids degrade. That's a problem because each of the fluids in your car is vital to the long-term health of the engine, transmission, steering or brakes. Simply keeping the fluids topped off isn't enough because over time they lose important properties — like their ability to remove heat and lubricate, as well as the ability to prevent rust and freezing. What fluids are we talking about? Transmission, differential, brake and power-steering fluid; oil; and antifreeze. Windshield washer fluid? Not so important.

Regular transmission and differential fluid changes are often overlooked, but this service is very important. If you really want to keep your car forever, our suggestion is to get these fluids changed every 60,000 miles whether your owner's manual recommends it or not. Fresh, clean transmission fluid assures that your car's drivetrain stays cool and uncontaminated. Some cars, by the way, have two separate differentials. Be sure to ask your mechanic if yours is one, and make sure that both sets of differential oil get changed. It's easy to overlook this particular service, but you do so at your own peril: A cooked differential can cost thousands of dollars to repair. Routine maintenance service is much less expensive; it should cost about $150 to get your transmission fluid flushed and replaced, and another $100 to do both differentials.

9.

Get Problems Checked Out Sooner Rather Than Later - This is like saying "Don't let a cold turn into pneumonia." If you have a small problem with your car, get it checked out sooner rather than later.
For example, a torn CV boot is a common problem and a simple repair. Delay getting it fixed, though, and you'll eventually end up by the side of the road, unable to drive and forced to fork over some additional money for a tow and a whole new axle.

That's just one example. There are many other problems that start small but balloon into something much larger if they're not addressed right away. Don't believe in this theory? Talk to the secretary of the Treasury Department.
Above all, make sure your car is safe to drive. If you have any doubts about such things as brakes, brake lines, ball joints, tie rods, airbags, seat belts or even the structural integrity of your car, get it checked out. Remember: Even though you want your car to last a long time, you still want to outlive your car. 

10.

Find a Repair Shop You Trust - Find a shop you trust intuitively. Think of maintaining your car as a partnership between you and your shop. Or, more precisely, between your bank account and the bank holding the loan on your shop's lease. Money only moves in one direction, and in exchange you get a car that runs reliably.

Having a good working relationship with your shop will enable you to make wise decisions when the time comes — and you won't have nagging doubts about the truthfulness of what you're being told. This is such an important point we wrote an entire feature on how to develop a great relationship with your Shop.

How do you find a great shop? When you find someone you think you like, ask for recommendations from longtime customers. Brownies has an excellent reputation in the Dayton market and is a shop that you can trust in to be up front and only do what is necessary. All at a very reasonable price.

11.

Discuss Your Plans with your Shop - Not everyone wants a car to last for 200,000 miles. As a result, mechanics don't always have a long-term mindset when they perform routine service. If your shop knows you're in this for the long term, they'll spend a little more time looking things over when you bring in your car.You'll need to remind them regularly that you're hoping for a long, healthy life for your car. Ask them to keep that in mind as they work on your car.

12.

If You Can't Avoid Salt, Wash Your Car Frequently - Living in the Dayton Ohio area, you're probably very familiar with the ravages of road salt. By kick-starting rust, salt wreaks havoc on the body and other components. Our advice is simple: During the winter, when there's salt on the roads, wash your car's undercarriage as often as possible. You'll remove much of the salt that's eating away your car, and that's a good thing.

13.

Skip the Heated Garage - Garages and carports are great things. Do you want to spend 10 minutes every morning during the winter freezing your bolts off, scraping ice and snow off your car? Of course not! A garage allows you to avoid that supreme morning hassle, and it also helps slow the steady deterioration of your car's interior and exterior caused by bright sun and storms. However, there's a big exception to this rule: heated garages.

Our advice is to skip the heated garage, which can accelerate your car's march towards its grave. Here's why: Heat accelerates oxidation, also known as rust. You drive in the garage with snow and ice on your car, it melts, and the water and salt mix in that nice, warm petri dish and, come morning, there's less of your car there. 

14. Be Proud - Owning an older car should be a source of pride. You're showing that you're sensible, not swayed by the latest models and capable of keeping your car well maintained. Who knows? That sort of no-frills common sense can be very appealing to members of the opposite sex. It might even land you a date! After all, who wants somebody who's always got his eye on a new model? Even if it doesn't score you the babe or hunk of your dreams, owning an older car can offer you something else: a truly liberating experience. You no longer care about scratches, dents or bird droppings. And, best of all? It's paid for! So who cares what your neighbors think? Shoot them a broad, smug smile the next time they eye your jalopy puttering down the street.
 
 

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ATRA Certified Technicians Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association BBB - Brownie's Independent Transmission National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence People's Choice Award-Dayton Voyager Wright Express