Our Current Blog Articles
November 22, 2017
Signs You Need a Car Alignment
What are the signs you need a car alignment? At Key Transmission and Gears in Englewood, Colorado we have put together this handy list since it’s a question we hear often. Car alignment is an easy process, and you’ll save yourself a big headache down the road by addressing it sooner than later. For example, you may have to buy all new tires if you drive for too long with your car out of alignment because they will wear unevenly.
So let’s get to it. Here are 5 signs you need a car alignment:
- Steering Wheel Not Centered
When driving on a straight, flat surface, your steering wheel should be perfectly centered. Or close to it at least. The vehicle’s emblem that is usually in the center of the steering wheel should be level. If your steering wheel has to be turned to go straight down a straight road, that’s an indication that your car is not aligned correctly.
- The Car Pulls One Way or the Other
Some people still check their alignment by letting go of the steering wheel on a straight road and seeing if the car continues straight. The truth is that not only is this dangerous as you should never let go of the steering wheel entirely but also road conditions may make the car pull a little.
A better way to check is to see if the vehicle will drive straight but with very minimal effort on your part, to keep the steering wheel from turning. You can do this at a slower speed, perhaps in a parking lot or on a quiet street.
- Tire Wear
Remember that we mentioned driving a car out of alignment causes wear on the tires? It can cause all sorts of different wear patterns. If you notice that your tires are not wearing evenly, be sure to check the alignment of your car. Being out of alignment is not the only problem that can cause tire wear. A knowledgeable mechanic can make a good guess as to what the issue is just by examining the wear pattern.
- Loose Handling
Some vehicles naturally have more play in the steering wheel than others. However, if your vehicle has unusually loose handling, especially around corners and such, the alignment may be to blame. Be sure to have it checked quickly to ensure maximum safety on the road.
- Steering Wheel Doesn’t Return to Center
After completing a turn, the steering wheel in a properly aligned vehicle will seek to go back to center. Of course, you should never let go and let the car straighten itself on its own. But if the steering wheel doesn’t even attempt to seek center, that’s an indication that your vehicle is out of alignment.
As soon as you notice one or more of these signs you need a car alignment, bring your car in. Driving a vehicle out of alignment for an extended period will eventually cause a host of other problems, not just with your tires. If you need help or further advice related to your vehicle, don’t hesitate to give us a call here at Key Transmission and Gears. We’re here to serve you!
October 19, 2017
Manual Versus Automatic Transmissions
Today, the experts at Key Transmissions and Gears in Englewood give you a quick primer on manual versus automatic transmissions. While most cars seem to come as automatics these days, there are still manuals available. Even if you don’t know how to drive one, you may be inclined to learn how so that you can enjoy some of the fun that comes with it. Then again, an automatics do have their own advantages, so let’s take a look at a few of the differences.
Ease of Use
As we said, when it comes to manual versus automatic transmissions, the most prominent issue is that a lot of people simply don’t know how to drive them. Manuals are more complicated to learn than automatics, and you have to be relatively coordinated to learn how to do it well.
Manuals typically win out over automatics in this department. Vehicles equipped with a manual transmission almost always get better gas mileage than vehicles equipped with an automatic. Of course, it can depend on how you drive it – speed being a major factor.
Other people driving your car
Fewer and fewer people know how to drive vehicles with manual transmissions these days so if you have one, that lowers the pool of people that can drive your car. This can either be a good thing or a bad thing. For example, if you’re injured (or had a little too much to drink at a party) the friend you would like to drive your car, may not know how to. On the flip side, your vehicle is less likely to be stolen as not all thieves know how to drive a manual.
If you spend a lot of time in stop and go traffic, an automatic transmission will make your life so much easier. Instead of having to go through all the steps (clutch in, shift gears, clutch out) every time you crawl forward 10 feet you can simply take your foot off the brake.
Automatic transmissions are more complicated than their manual counterparts. Because of this, they tend to cost more at the outset. They require more transmission maintenance due to a more complex design. Add that to the reduced gas mileage, and you find that you can be paying quite a bit for the extra comfort that driving an automatic provides.
Because you have more control over a vehicle with a manual transmission, they are more fun to drive. In general, it can make you feel like a star in The Fast and the Furious to be picking up speed on the freeway and shifting gears. Just don’t have too much fun or you might end up with a speeding ticket.
A vehicle with an automatic transmission is a little bit safer to drive than one with a manual. The reason for this is that you can keep both hands on the wheel and more attention on the road because you don’t have to worry about the gears. However, once you become fluent in manual driving, this becomes less of a factor.
If you have questions about manual versus automatic transmissions, feel free to talk to our staff here at Key Transmission and Gears. And no matter what you drive, trust that our certified technicians know your transmission inside and out. We offer expert maintenance and repair right here at our shop in Englewood, Colorado.
September 14, 2017
5 Easy Ways to Damage Your Transmission
Today, Key Transmission and Gears in Englewood, Colorado offers these 5 easy ways to damage your transmission. It may surprise you to know this, but the life of a transmission is far more dependent on the care and maintenance it receives then how it was manufactured. The good thing about this is that by simply avoiding the few mistakes we’ve listed below, you can help your transmission perform its best and last longer.
- Not servicing your transmission
The fluid running through your transmission is constantly cleaning the system. That means that eventually, the fluid will accumulate a buildup of dirt and other contaminants. Having your transmission serviced is both easy and important. If it isn’t cleaned out in a timely manner, the transmission will begin to run sluggish and eventually fail altogether.
To avoid transmission failure, simply change the fluid or flush the system at the appropriate interval. Transmissions should be serviced once every 30,000-60,000 miles. Depending on use and driving conditions, this translates to approximately every 2-5 years for most vehicles.
- Not using the correct fluid
Transmission fluid is available in different viscosities and with various additives. Ensure that you put the right kind in your transmission or it will not function properly. Check the manual to find out which kind of transmission fluid your transmission requires.
- Not keeping the fluid level up
Transmission fluid has several important functions, lubricating the moving parts, providing hydraulic pressure and keeping the system cool. If you don’t have a high enough level of fluid, there won’t be enough to perform all its functions successfully. Run it long enough like this and you'll make the list of 5 easy ways to damage your transmission.
- Not fixing problems
Sometimes people think if they just ignore problems with their engines, those problems will go away. That is generally not the case. If you’re having trouble changing gears, the gears are slipping or grinding, or you see dark red stains on your driveway--don’t ignore these signs. Sure, it’s an inconvenience to get your transmission fixed but if you keep driving your vehicle in that state, more issues can occur, costing you more time and money in the long run.
- Not keeping it cool
About 90% of all transmission failures are caused by the transmission overheating. On average a 20-degree increase in fluid temperature can reduce the lifespan of your transmission by up to half. Therefore, if you keep the transmission fluid temperature down you’ll be adding years to the life of your transmission.
We hope that you’ll take our advice and avoid these 5 easy ways to damage your transmission! As always if you have any questions or doubts, you can speak to one of the knowledgeable experts here at Key Transmission and Gears in Englewood, Colorado. Also, if you’re noticing one of the problems mentioned here, we recommend bringing your vehicle in immediately before anything worse happens. We’ll be happy to take a look and get you back driving again as quickly as possible!
August 14, 2017
Get to Know Your Car's Suspension System
With this helpful article from Key Transmission and Gears in Englewood, Colorado, you can get to know your car’s suspension system. You don’t have to be an expert but it is interesting to at least learn a little bit about how the different systems in your vehicle function. Have you ever stopped to think about what the suspension system does, or why it is important? Well, you’re about to find out.
There is no doubt that the various engine systems are invaluable and, of course, your car wouldn’t function well or at all without them. But the suspension system plays a critical role as well, and you wouldn’t be able to drive your car without it safely.
The purpose of a vehicle's suspension system is to increase the friction between the tires of your car and the road. In so doing, the tires better grip the road, lessening the chance of your tires slipping and providing safer handling and significantly improved stability.
Suspension systems would be unnecessary if the roads here in Englewood and Sheridan were perfectly flat, but we all know that is not true. Even freshly laid asphalt has a certain amount of irregularity to it.
To get to know your car’s suspension system, let’s think back to high school science for a moment. Newton’s laws of motion state that all forces have magnitude and direction. This means that when your tires hit a bump in the road the force created has a magnitude (higher magnitudes at greater speeds or for bigger bumps and lower for the opposite) and a direction (perpendicular to the road).
If the magnitude is sufficient, the tire could even leave the road and come slamming back down onto the pavement, uncomfortable, jostling the occupants of your vehicle. Therefore, your car needs some system that allows the wheels to bounce and absorb the shock and while still creating a smooth ride for the vehicle’s occupants. That’s your suspension system.
The vehicle is also subject to forward and backward forces during acceleration and deceleration and side-to-side forces when taking turns. The suspension system is responsible for redistributing the weight so that the vehicle better handles those forces.
For example, when accelerating, the weight of the vehicle will naturally squat back putting more weight on the back tires and leaving the front tires lighter and with worse contact to the road. The suspension system actively works to pull the weight of the car forward and minimize the weight transfer during acceleration as much as possible. The same applies to stopping and side-to-side forces in turning.
All of this is referred to as the car’s handling. The better a car handles, the safer it is to drive, the more stable it is at higher speeds (i.e. the car is less likely to flip over during turns) and the smoother ride the occupants of the vehicle will enjoy. Nobody is going to complain about that!
There is a whole lot more to explain if you want to get to know your car’s suspension system, but this overview from our experts at Key Transmission and Gears will at least help you understand the basics.
July 14, 2017
Top 10 Transmission Problems
To help our customers get better acquainted with their vehicles, Key Transmission and Gears offers this list of the top 10 transmission problems. Of course, we’re always on hand to diagnose and address any issues you come across. But being aware of some of these transmission symptoms can help you avoid serious problems and more expensive repairs.
- Lack of Response
Cars with automatic transmissions should immediately engage when you shift into park or drive. A hesitation is an indication of something wrong. In manual transmissions, you may notice that the engine’s RPM’s rev up but the vehicle isn’t moving at the rate that the engine sounds like it’s going. Usually, this points to a clutch needing replacement.
- Unusual Noises
Sounds are difficult to diagnose, but if the transmission causes the noises, you will hear something you’ve never noticed before. A telltale indication that the sound is coming from or caused by the transmission is if it happens during shifting.
- Leaking or Low Fluid
If your transmission is low on fluid and you don’t do anything about it, there will most certainly be problems. If you notice red liquid pooling under your vehicle when parked, there is probably a leak.
- Grinding or Shaking
Gear changes should be smooth. If you notice that the gears in a manual transmission are grinding into place when you shift, or the gears in an automatic one are shaking into place, there is probably something amiss.
- Burning Smell
A burning smell coming from your engine is never a good sign. In some cases, it can be the transmission fluid burning off. If you let it go too long, the transmission can get seriously damaged.
- Won’t Go into Gear
Sometimes it won’t go into gear at all. This could be a lack of fluid, or the computer system is malfunctioning. Check the fluid level, and you can try resetting the computer system to see if that fixes the problem.
- Check Engine Light
While the check engine light comes on for many issues, it deserves a spot on our top 10 transmission problems list. Yes, that light can point to transmission troubles, so you should never ignore it.
- Noisy in Neutral
If you notice that your transmission is noisy in neutral, it could just be that it is low on fluid. If not, get it to a mechanic soon.
- Slipping Gears
Gears should not ever slip out on their own. If that is happening, have your vehicle checked immediately as this is a severe safety issue.
- Clutch Drags
Sometimes in manual transmissions, the clutch is too loose, and the flywheel doesn’t disengage as it should when the clutch is pressed. You’ll notice this by grinding noises when you try to shift and in some cases, you may not be able to shift at all.
This is just a quick overview of the top 10 transmission problems that you can run into. If you notice any of these, or that something is out of whack with your vehicle, be sure to give us a call here at Key Transmission and Gears. Our experts can check it out and hopefully prevent a small problem from becoming a serious one.