Tips & Advice


What does it mean if my “check engine” or “service engine soon” light comes on?
There are many sensors and computerized components that manage your vehicle’s engine performance and emissions. When one of these fails, the “check engine” light is illuminated. Although your car may seem to run fine, it is important to have the issue addressed to prevent long-term problems or failure of emission tests.

What causes milky brown engine oil?
Milky brown engine oil is an indication of coolant in the oil. This can be caused by a blown head gasket (other gasket), a failed transmission cooler or cracked casings. This condition is very serious and needs to be checked by a professional technician quickly.

What is a rebuild Transmission repair?

A rebuilt transmission according to ATRA is one where the transmission is disassembled and inspected, worn or damaged parts are replaced (generally referred to as “hard parts”) and then reassembled to factory specifications, along with new gaskets, seals, clutches and bands. These are commonly referred to as “soft parts”. The term “rebuilt” is generally used in a shop setting where the customer’s transmission is removed from the car, rebuilt and then reinstalled. It is a custom process performed by a specialist. Other terms you may hear that have the same meaning are “refurbished, reconditioned or overhauled”, they have the same meaning.

Transmission Service or Flush? 

According to ATRA a service is part of your regular maintenance, just like an engine oil change or replacing the coolant in your radiator. Regular service can help you avoid costly repairs to your transmission. Generally, you should have your transmission serviced every 24,000 miles, or two year. Some manufactures recommend longer service intervals like 50,000 or 100,000 miles, however, these intervals may exceed any opportunity for you to identify problems early on so you can avoid minor problems turning into a major repair. Consider a transmission service as you would engine oil change; part of a regular maintenance schedule.
Generally, a transmission service replaces about 1/3 to 1/2 of the fluid inside the transmission and is adequate for a regularly-maintained transmission. For more severe instances you may consider a transmission flush.

Transmission Flush or Exchange?

According to ATRA a transmission flush is intended to replace nearly 100% of the fluid in your transmission. It requires a specialized machine that pumps new fluid through the transmission’s lube and cooler circuit, replacing the old fluid. A word of caution: these flush machines do not require replacing the transmission filter in order to exchange the fluid. If you elect the transmission flushed make sure you have the filter replaced as well, provided the filter is accessible.  Some transmissions, like those used in most Hondas are not accessible and cannot be replaced without disassembling the transmission. Your decision to consider a regular service or fluid exchange can be determined by the condition of your transmission fluid.

What should I do if my car starts to overheat?
This is a very serious problem – if your car overheats for too long, you can damage your engine. As soon as possible, find a safe place to pull off the road and shut off the engine! Do not attempt to check the fluid level in the radiator as it can burn you. The best thing to do is have your car towed to a repair shop.

Five signs you car needs a Transmission Repair According to ATRA. 

1. A high-pitched whining noise that gets worse in reverse could mean that you have a clogged transmission fluid filter. A great test for a clogged filter is to raise line pressure without raising engine rpm. You can do this by shifting into reverse. So, if the volume goes up in reverse it indicates a clogged filter. The noise is produced when the transmission fluid is restricted from flowing through the filter.

2. Whining or grinding noises when driving can mean that the planetary gear set is damaged. Automatic transmissions use a planetary gear system that consists of a single center gear, a large ring gear around that with internal teeth and multiple small gears in between the center and rig gears.

3. If you hear gurgling noises coming from your transmission, this is usually an indication that your transmission fluid level is very low. Because there is not enough fluid to fully enter and lubricate the system, the air pockets interact with the fluid to create the sound.

4. If your vehicle has a few years on it you may begin to notice harsh or soft shifting or delays when your automatic transmission is shifting through the gears. This may be due to your TCM’s inability to compensate for excessive transmission wear and tear.

5. A constant whining sound, one that may change in pitch as you drive, may be indicative of a problem with your torque converter. The best indication of a torque converter bearing issue is that you hear the whining in gear (any gear) while stationary and then the sound goes away in park or neutral.