Thurston Car Talk: Transmissions Have Become Much More Reliable


Submitted by Bron of Bron’s Automotive

If I suspect I have a transmission problem, do I have to take it to a transmission shop?  I hear this a lot and the answer is a resounding no!  Transmissions have become much more reliable than they were in the old days and will usually last the life of the vehicle if the fluid is changed out at regular intervals.  (This explains why transmission shops now also perform brake repairs and oil changes – they need the work in order to stay in business!)  We have found that well over 50% of the time, when a customer states, “I think something is wrong with my transmission”  the problem actually lies in the secondary ignition system, which results in a condition that feels  like a transmission slipping.  The cure ends up being an ignition coil, or spark plug wires, or something of that nature.  Plugged fuel filters have also been known to mimic transmission issues.

Modern transmissions are controlled electronically.  When the issue really is a transmission problem, diagnosis is the key.  Oftentimes a failed speed sensor will cause shifting problems, or a failed pressure solenoid can be replaced as opposed to rebuilding the entire transmission.  Occasionally the manufacturer will publish a service bulletin detailing a known problem that can be repaired with updated parts, often without pulling the entire transmission out of the vehicle.  Sometimes the fix is simply to reprogram the transmission computer, much the way Microsoft can cure performance problems with their updates.

The key to effective transmission repair is to correctly diagnose the problem.  This is only possible with smart technicians, so it is best to lean towards shops that employ ASE certified technicians.

About The Author

Bron Lindgren has been an Olympia resident since 1975. He has been working on vehicles as a technician since the late 1970’s, and started his own shop, Bron’s Automotive in 2002. Bron hires only ASE certified technicians, is an AAA approved auto repair shop, and provides shuttle service as well as a 2 year/24,000 warranty. Bron is a member of the West Olympia Rotary, the Automotive Service Association, Thurston County Chamber, and a board member of the Community Mental Health Foundation, BHR’S fundraising arm.

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