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Pay for your own broken transmission..Lesson learned…

I was taught a valuable lesson when I was about 18 or 19 years old. My dad is the best, he is still hanging around at 90 years old. I have to credit both of my parents for the lesson though, I know now that they worked together.

1965-1966 Shelby GT-350

1965-1966 Shelby GT-350

I owned a 1966 Shelby Mustang GT350. The real deal. Carrol Shelby was and still is my car hero. Shelby Mustangs and the Cobra Roadster were and are the coolest cars in the world. Carrol Shelby is still the most innovative driver and car builder ever.

My Shelby GT350 had an automatic transmission, Shelby American Corp. was part of Hertz Rental Car company back then, and build specialty rental Mustangs for Hertz. The rentals came with the famed C-4 Ford automatic transmission, now defunct ( still supplies quality rebuilt C-4 transmissions). The racing Shelby’s were White with two big wide blue racing stripes going from front to rear. And a 4 speed Ford top loader transmission…Awesome man. I know a lot of you guys in your 50’s know what I’m talking about.

My problem surrounded abuse. I was over diligent about maintenance, even though synthetic automatic transmission fluid had not been invented back then, the ATF was better than we can get nowadays. Sperm Whale oil was the main ingredient in ATF that long ago and the government put a stop to killing whales for anything, including ATF in the late ’70’s or early ’80’s.

Sperm Whale oil made good tranny fluid. It took many years to bring it back up to specs. Everyone made an additive that improved the quality of ATF before they (manufacturers) figured out how to improve it. The main additive as I remember was Jojoba bean oil.

The reality is conventional A.T. fluid never was the same after whale oil was eliminated from the mixture. That is when and where synthetic ATF comes in. Not that many people used synthetics until the early ’90’s, except for me. I am a maintenance nut, so I located a company in California called Redline that was one of the first to make synthetic lubricants. They still make a great product. I don’t use it anymore because it cost way more than Mobil 1 synthetic ATF, and Mobil 1 is good stuff.

This is not the lesson I intended to give to you, but a lesson it is. When you get into hi-performance situations such as a Shelby Mustang or the car of your choice (a Porsche is not a bad choice) things break if you use then too hard or as my dad put it, “abuse them”. Everything has a limit, so no matter how many so called “racing parts” or transmission coolers that ATI (the company I always used) put in it, I ended up breaking it by pure unadulterated abuse. It was fun though, as long as someone else pay for it.

BTW, ATI (Automatic Transmissions Incorporated) is, and has been for many, many years the leader in racing transmissions and torque converters in the country. Top grade hi cost racing transmissions, pure and simple. I ended up working there, which was the beginning of my 30 plus year transmission career. I needed to support my habit, so to speak. You will understand why after you learn the real lesson I intended to give you today.

I guess I’ll have to tell you the real  lesson I learned about Ford transmissions tomorrow, I got caught up in the thick of thin things here and ran out of time. I hope you tune in tomorrow to Blog for the rest of the story. Plus more car transmissions history and info on Carroll Shelby and his cars..

What is a Torque Converter and what does Lock-Up mean?

A torque converter, common to automatic transmissions only, is the equivalent to a clutch in a standard transmission. The torque converter converts the power from the engine, seamlessly and smoothly to the transmission instead of having a clutch to assist on take off as in a standard transmission.

BTW, if you don’t get a remanufactured torque converter with a remanufactured transmission, I would question the job and feel like the job was not complete. You don’t have to guess with a supplier of transmissions like

Nowadays all cars and trucks use a feature called lock-up in the torque converter.

By way of fluid coupling, the torque converter transfers the power to the transmission without a clutch or clutch pedal. It cushions the shifts as they occur and makes the transition of power very smooth as the automatic transmission shifts.

What I wanted to discuss was not the technical details of how the actual parts work in a torque converter, heck most transmission mechanics don’t understand the theory behind it. Something else to throw out quickly is that very few transmission rebuild and repair shops rebuild their own torque converters. The amount of expensive equipment and the knowledge necessary to perform this is better off done by a torque converter remanufacturing specialist.

I wanted to briefly mention what the term lock-up means. Lock up is a feature introduced in about 1982 with the advent of the T-700R4 and T-200-C General motors transmissions. Simply put, since a torque converter is a fluid coupler it will always have a certain amount of ‘slip’ built into it. It is unavoidable due to fluid being the main component of the coupling action. This decreases gas mileage by 1-4 miles per gallon, the built in slippage, that is.

To eliminate the problem, an actual clutch disc has been built right into the torque converter. At a certain speed, usually about 45-50 mph a message from a computer sends a forceful ‘charge‘ of automatic transmission fluid to the converter, which applies the clutch plate inside and eliminates the small amount of built in ‘slippage’.

Darn good idea. A lot of updates and improvements have been developed over the years which has just about perfected the design. Obviously this is a desire-able feature with few drawbacks. The only legitimate drawback is if your son takes the car to the drag-strip and burns the converter clutch up.
Just joking, the drawback, which is negligible, is it produces more heat, therefore making maintenance using synthetic ATF more important and the installation of an external transmission cooler a good idea.

Once I link this post to some of the more technical posts on Blog, those posts will make more sense. Assuming any of my posts make sense. Let me know if you need more information or a better description. If you don’t tell me I can’t do a better job. Thanks and enjoy.

E4OD or 4R100 Ford heavy duty automatic overdrive transmissions-The truth..

The E4OD transmission was introduced by Ford in 1989 as a new super duty automatic overdrive transmission for their trucks. At the time, it was the biggest truck transmission made for Ford trucks through the F-350 line-up and larger. It has been updated by Ford many times and now is called the 4R100 automatic overdrive transmission. They can be purchased as used and in a variety of forms as transmissions for sale.

Changes have been subtle and have increased the durability of this unit immensely. Contrary to popular beliefs that this is a crappy transmission, Brian of and I totally disagree with this analogy. While not being exempt from the issues many new designs have during the first few years of production, this is the most popular series of automatic overdrive transmissions Ford has ever built for their truck line. It has been used in the Excursion for about 10 years or more and some of the other truck chassis based vehicles Ford makes.

For the record, every automatic transmission made needs to be updated. Ideally from the day you bought it. The Ford E4OD and 4R100 require an absolutely necessary group of updates when going through the rebuild transmission process, more than most transmissions, but the real culprit is not the transmission as much as the supporting cast.
The supporting cast as in the radiator and the transmission cooling system.

Here is an explanation of what is wrong with the stock Ford radiator and why it causes so much unhappiness. A built in flaw, that is very correctable using the cooler installation techniques described in this post.

Back to the other updates. Transgo makes the best upgrade kits on the market. They are the original company to recognize the need and develop upgrade kits for automatic transmissions. The basic Shift Kit Jr. is perfect for almost all applications. It cures a bunch of problems mostly dealing with the flow of the automatic transmission fluid and the torque converter. Remember to only use synthetic ATF.

The problem being a loss of fluid flow to the radiator under acceleration or with a heavy load attached.. Couple that with the restriction the radiator causes and you have a recipe for a meltdown, particularly in a heavy duty truck.

The most important part of the update kit does not require transmission removal. With that in mind, if your transmission is healthy, you can couple the updates with the cooler modifications and you have a transmission that will last longer a stock Ford transmission, and be trouble free with the proper maintenance.

This advise is not specific to Ford transmissions, I recommend upgrades and coolers for all transmissions. blog is specifically developed with helpful tips to help you keep some extra cash in your pocket  . Please read more and enjoy.

Beginners automotive transmission replacement strategy…

When it comes to experiencing the abruptness of an automatic or standard transmission failure, most people have no clue what to do. Fear enters the mind. Confusion starts to manifest itself, when in fact, all we need is some basic education. Essentially we want to put a strategy in place before we start the process of purchasing a replacement transmission. We will end the confusion right here by providing some education on the Blog.

I’m 55 years old now and have been messing with mechanical stuff since I was three. My dad bought me a yard sale lawn mower for one dollar when I was about 4 years old. I think he got tired of me taking his apart every day!! The point is that my most developed skills are understanding and repairing mechanical things. I have owned an automotive transmission shop for 25 years, which I sold three years ago.

Another skill and secret I developed was to listen to what my customers had to tell me and what their expectations were. The most important thing I ended up doing was educating them. I found that most folks have no idea how to ask or determine what solutions are available to them. So, I would spend the amount of time deemed necessary to educate my customer in terms they understood as to what choice is in their best interests. Some customers understood in five minutes and sometimes I spent hours with showing them damaged parts and new parts and providing a thorough understanding of my recommendation. This was really one of the fun parts of running a business.

The main choices that face you are:

#1. Do I buy a used transmission?

#2. Do I buy a remanufactured, rebuilt or reconditioned transmission?

#3 Do I buy a new transmission?

A good question to ask yourself is ‘why did my transmission fail’? This is critical to know, since you don’t want an underlying problem causing another transmission failure.

These questions are rhetorical and don’t require an answer today.

What I want to make abundantly clear is that outperforms every other wholesaler by providing you with realistic educational answers to your questions in terms that make sense to you. No mechanical jargon that tends to confuse people. The experts that qualify to work here are here to answer questions so you can make a qualified decision. This information we provide is for mechanics that work on transmissions too. We want to supply you with the detailed answers you need. Not some flimsy unqualified answer that leaves you saying “huh”.

Needless to say, when you buy the transmission that suits you best, we will make sure it is the highest quality with a warranty that builds confidence in you. Call us at 866-320-1182 and talk to a specialist in engine replacement. If you stump one of our specialists, they will ask me and I will enjoy answering your question in terms you understand and why this is in your best interest.

Return tomorrow for an answer to the first question. Feel free to comment or lend support or ask a question. Advise is free. Enjoy.

Bad Standard Transmission, remember to check the clutch..

If it comes down to having a standard /manual transmission failure, don’t forget to check the clutch or have the repair shop check your clutch out. Getting a good used low mileage standard transmission or a quality rebuilt standard transmission is easy. That is if you buy it from The experts that you will talk with can help you decide what type of replacement transmission is in your best interests.

Taking a logical approach to your clutch assembly, one would be correct in thinking the clutch may be worn out as well, especially if it is the original one. Even if it has been replaced, why not look at it? It would be a drag to have the clutch fail in 3 months and have to duplicate the labor of taking out the transmission again.

That is not really saving money in the long run. I recommend as well to have the flywheel resurfaced at the same time. This is a system of sorts and by updating everything involved, it increases your confidence and the vehicles reliability. It is hard to rationalize not replacing the clutch too if you brake down on the side of the road for not being responsible to the whole system.

Speaking of systems, most every vehicle made in the last 20 years uses a hydraulic clutch activation system. Consisting of a clutch master cylinder and a clutch slave cylinder. It is a great time to check them closely or replace these items as well.

The last thing I have to say about this, at least today, is that new clutches are available and very affordable now. The days of rebuilt clutches are coming to an end. There are a variety of companies that offer new original equipment clutches, upgraded clutch kits and flywheels for no more than a rebuilt clutch costs.

Be a wise and qualified consumer. If you are in the habit of using a repair shop for your repairs, mention this when you drop off your car, also make sure you check the box that says “I request a written estimate”. At my shop we even faxed estimates to our customers to examine and sign. So they don’t necessarily have to make a special trip to sign the invoice, unless they are interested in seeing what you are talking about.

We intend to keep stocking our Blog with more and more helpful tips. If you are uncertain of anything car repair related, make sure you frequent our blog for an answeror simply ask me in the comment area.

Harsh 1-2 shift on Chevy Astro Van and Suburban… received a question recently that deserves a post of it’s own.

If you have General Motors brand Chevrolet Astro Van or Suburban, or a GMC Safari Van with a harsh 1-2 shift, you have company. This is a fairly common problem with these vehicles and in most cases easy to cure. These vehicles use either a T-700R4(4L60) or an 4L60E automatic overdrive transmission.

Technically speaking the wrong second gear shift accumulator spring was put in many of these vehicles, causing them to shift to hard from first gear to second gear. It was a factory manufacturing flaw not deemed serious enough to warrant a bulletin from the factory for a fix. Most people who inquired were told that’s the way they shift, nothing we can do about it.

For those who want to know what an accumulator is: it is essentially a shock absorber for a shift. It takes the shock and harshness out of a shift. The bigger the accumulator the softer it will shift. The smaller accumulators shift more solid or harsh. The basic paradigm is easy. Essentially, the vehicles that received the too small accumulators from the factory shifted to hard.

You can fix that problem. A few companies now make a repair kit for it. I used the TRANSGO brand kits. The SK 4L60E-Jr is for the 4L60E and the SK700-Jr is for the earlier 700R4 trannys. They (Transgo) have been around since about 1959 making upgrade kits and fix-it kits and suppling repair and diagnostic information to professionals since their inception. Basically they are a research and development company for automatic transmission problems.

FYI, they make hundreds of kits, you can download a free PDF file catalog from the TRANGO site.

Here is the deal, if your transmission is relatively healthy and clean then one can install the bulk of the kit including upgrading the accumulator system without a transmission removal. It is way more common to install the entire kit while your transmission is being rebuilt. In my shop there was no choice, every T-700R4(4L60) and 4L60-E had an SK-Jr installed in it, as a matter of fact, if TRANSGO made a kit for the transmission we were rebuilding at the time, it got it automatically, no pun intended.

Don’t forget that if you do it yourself at home to be extra safe when you jack up your vehicle. Also you will need about 8 quarts of synthetic automatic transmission fluid and a transmission filter and pan gasket. Blog is presenting this fix as an answer to the question we received, send more questions. You can find more money saving fix-it tips by reading our blog. Enjoy.

PS. Your transmission does NOT need any extra additives. ATF has everything it needs in it already..

Can you bring your car closer to the phone please…

It is an old mechanics joke. When a potential customer calls and says “my car stopped moving I think it is the automatic transmission, it is leaking transmission fluid, how much will it cost”? What can you say if you can’t examine the car? How can you convince your potential client to have the car towed to your shop for an exam without quoting a price or possible price?

Realistically speaking, lets say you thought you had a brain tumor, would you call the doctor and ask how much it would cost to remove it? Of course not, you know the drill, make an appointment and have it diagnosed. Well what makes you think a transmission mechanic can diagnose your problem during a phone call and quote an accurate price?

As far as my shop was concerned, we would talk with our potential customer to make sure they were qualified consumers. Ask a few questions like is the check engine light on, did it make any noises, etc. Then we would offer free towing, within a 15 mile radius and a free diagnosis. No obligation to pay for either service if the vehicle is not fixed at our shop. You have to be confident as a business owner to make an offer like that.

Gaining a potential customers confidence is most of the battle. When I would get a call like that, about the only thing I would say pertaining the problem was that since the fluid leaked out, it would stop it from moving. Possibly you don’t have a transmission problem, just a leak. A vehicle won’t move once it has lost 3 to 5 quarts of automatic transmission fluid. Most cars hold from 10 to 14 quarts of ATF.

The big thing for me was not to create an unreal expectation just to have a customer let me tow the car in. That is always a problem when you use the type of tactics that build unreal expectations on cost and, what may be wrong with the vehicle just to get it towed to your shop.

First off, after the car arrives we would asap start the diagnosis process. Half the time it was a simple problem we could fix in an expedient manner and send the customer on their way.

Many times the transmission was bad and needed a replacement. If our customer requested a good used low mileage transmission, than we called could trust that what we bought from them was pre tested, low mileage and guaranteed.

The point is that a qualified transmission shop will always handle a situation in a similar manner. If not, call another shop.

Use your common sense to make a decision. Read our Blog for more information on choosing the right shop to use over the phone..there is also a bunch of information on the blog on perhaps preventing yourself from experiencing frustrating and inconvenient, not mention possibly expensive transmission problems.

Why is an over-busy shop not always a good sign?

An over-busy shop creates a ring of problems that is similar to credit card debt. It’s real hard to get caught up when you have not time or resources to do it. And an over-busy shop lacks the time needed to fix mistakes and recheck work as well a possible, including doing a long enough road test after the job is done than rechecking everything all over. Not to mention any adjustments that may be needed.

In my 26 years as a transmission shop owner, being busy is good, over busy is bad. The main reason a shop is over-busy usually surrounds pricing. Meaning that they are the “cheapest” place in town for a rebuilt transmission. This low price issue really creates a bad scenario for a shop that does business that way.

Here is how it works….Quote low prices to get potential customers that show up to drop off their cars.

The first thing that often happens because being busy dictates working to fast and not having enough time to go through proper diagnostic procedures, you often get a bad diagnosis.

The other things that occur are…since the prices are to low the shop does not make money…so if you have a problem with the job and have to return to the shop, the car goes out back and sits until the shop can afford to take the time to get at it again. Usually because the shop does not make a profit, the parts used are #1. -poor quality and #2. maybe not everything that should be replaced was replaced…leaving some questionable parts in it.

When your car returns, it has to sit. The company needs to keep churning out all those cheap jobs fast in order to keep cash flowing. It turns into a nightmare for the customer and owner of the shop.

First off, you never choose a transmission shop because of the price. Transmission work is not fungible. Good transmission work is not cheap. The best transmission shops know their limitations. They structure their time to handle the problems that inevitably occur. Even the best parts and most talented mechanics have issues sometimes. To put it simple, the shop has to charge enough money in the first place to buy the best parts and talent. Second is that you need to have the time to take care of return jobs ASAP.

Being a top notch shop dictates your costs may be higher than the the el-cheapo shop. Naturally that will limit your clientele. There are plenty of people that want good work, so leave the cheapskates to the cheap shops and concentrate on qualified consumers. Soon, you find that the better shops may not be as busy, but the work quality is excellent and trouble free. However, return work is calculated into the equation so if a problem happens they are right on it.

I sure hope this makes sense to you. If not Brian will make me do it again!! Seriously, take some time and paruse our Blog for more helpful transmission information. Enjoy.

Secrets to choosing the right transmission shop..

These days it is really getting hard to figure out how to choose the right repair shop that will be in your best interest if you have a transmission failure or problem. Most folks are fairly naive about what to look for or listen to when choosing a place to replace a worn out transmission, this post should be helpful.

If calling some shops is your first move, I would recommend having a list of questions handy and doing a lot of analytical listening to what the person on the phone is saying. A qualified shop owner will listen too and use your information as a guide and use this info to convince you in terms you understand why his shop is the best one to do business with, without even quoting you a price.

It is unethical and fraudulent to quote prices over the phone on transmission problems before it is examined.

I think in most cases a shop can sell ‘itself’ over the phone by being professional, sincere and honest to you. A referral from a friend that had a good experience is the best recommendation of all. In any case, you may narrow your choices down to a few shops. With that in mind it would be a good time to visit the shops and see what they look like and talk more with the person in charge.

At my shop (I owned a transmission specialty shop from 1981 to 2006 sold it) we had no secrets to building customer confidence. We always treated our customers just like I want to be treated when I enter a repair facility for any professional service.

We started with a phone call by making a convincing argument why the vehicle needs to come to our shop and be diagnosed first, for free. We had a lead sheet so we could write the customers name down and problem.

#1. We greeted our customers by name when possible to show we were listening to them on the phone.
#2. Our shop was clean and organized which simply gives a good impression. It makes it easier to do good work also.
#3. Naturally if the shop is clean and safe it is great to give your customers a tour of the shop equipment, facility and technician/s who will work on your vehicle.
#4. We would give as much time as you the customer needs to understand the suggested transmission repair and why it is the repair that suits their interests the best.
#5. No pressure or obligation if you need to think about it overnight or need to check out another business.
#6. Offer you a ride or taxi home if you leave the vehicle.
#7. Sign your invoice and check the “I want a written estimate” section too.

For reasons I’ll explain another time, a overly busy shop is not always a good sign for choosing a facility.

I recommend checking with the Better Business Bureau and the Division of Automotive Affairs. Most states have a consumer division for reporting fraud, poor repairs, etc. Other good indicators are how long they have been in business. The longer the better in most cases. Don’t discount a newer or young shop just because it is new, if you get the right vibes, than you may have a diamond in the ruff.

I don’t think lots of superficial diplomas all over the walls are imperative, but they are impressive. The important thing is ongoing training and education to keep up with the newest technology. Top technicians should go to school yearly.

The owner should not only be a mechanic, but more importantly a good business man. A technician is not a business man and may not even understand the paradigm of doing business.

The most competent replacement shops will always seek the best suppliers they can find and build good relationships with them. For instance, is a time proven transmission supplier who builds confidence in you from the second they answer the phone.

Don’t forget that if the shop owner listens well, then they can really fit you with exactly what you need. Without seeing the car and talking with you there is no way to determine if you even need a replacement transmission. I have seen cases that were mistaken for being a transmission problem and actually were engine problems.

See why an over-busy transmission repair specialty shop may not be your best choice…

Ultimately, I think the warranty being offered is a big confidence builder. It not only shows that the shop or supplier is confident in their craftsmanship, but a good warranty builds your confidence too. Use our Blog as a source of information regarding transmission repairs and replacement.

Want to choose the right transmission repair shop?

Choosing the right automatic and standard transmission repair shop is what will determine your success. Specifically about how much quality is built into the rebuild job or confidence you have in a pre-tested used transmission.

The most important piece of information I can think of in this matter is dealing with a trained transmission specialist. If you were having a heart attack, would you call your dentist? If you needed brain surgery would you price around for the best deal? Of course not, so why not deal with a specialist like for all of your transmission needs.

The point is that transmissions are sensitive, highly precise and delicate units that have to be serviced by trained professionals. In reality that goes for engine repairs too, especially modern fuel injected computerized cars. Remember that modern transmissions are computerized too.

I’ll repeat this vibe again: Take your waste oil to a certified waste oil dumping station.

Learn some secrets to choosing the right repair shop in the Blog, exactly what to look for in choosing a competent and qualified transmission shop, in the mean time read more of our informative real life information on transmission repairs, service and how to feel confident in who you choose to do business with.