Our Current Blog Articles
June 26, 2017
Comparing Front and Rear Wheel Drive, AWD & 4WD, Part 2
In today’s article from Key Transmission and Gears, we’re comparing front and rear wheel drive, AWD & 4WD, Part 2. Last time we talked about front wheel and rear wheel drive to help our customers understand the differences between these two types. This article will now explain the difference between all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive.
From just the names of these two types of drives, you may be wondering what the difference is. Logically, since most vehicles consist of four wheels, all-wheel drive and 4-wheel drive kind of sound like the same thing. However, they do function differently, and each serves a slightly different purpose.
Four Wheel Drive
In the last article, we explained the purpose of a differential. If you didn’t catch it, here’s what you need to know. Any time that your wheels are not going in a totally straight line (a turn) one wheel must travel farther than the other. Therefore, the wheels should have the ability to turn at a different speed from each other. The same is also true when all 4 wheels are providing driving force. Front and back, as well as side to side, needs the capability to turn at just the right speed to move the vehicle without breaking anything on the drivetrain.
So, now that we’ve got that explanation out of the way, let’s talk about the typical four-wheel drive system. Most of the time the vehicle operates in two-wheel drive (usually the rear wheels) and the front wheels are only engaged when the four-wheel drive system is locked in.
Four-wheel drive systems are designed for use on low-traction surfaces (snow, ice, loose rock, etc.). The slippage provided by these surfaces allow for the wheels to rotate at the right speeds without breaking anything on the drivetrain. This means that if you try to use four-wheel drive on a good surface, you could possibly damage or break something on either the tires or the drive train and have to bring it to our shop for immediate car repairs.
All Wheel Drive
And that’s where all wheel drive comes in. There are a variety of all-wheel drive systems available, but the basic premise of each is to allow power to be sent to all four wheels and give each wheel the ability to rotate at the exact speed necessary to provide the driving force to the wheel without harming the tire or the drivetrain.
The benefit of these types of systems is that it is on all the time and the driver doesn’t have to worry about locking anything in to be in four-wheel drive. However, if your purpose is for heavy duty off-roading and you need rugged four-wheel drive, you should opt for an actual four-wheel drive system.
We hope this article comparing front and rear wheel drive, AWD & 4WD, part 2 has been helpful to you. For the front and rear wheel comparison, be sure to check out the first article we posted. We here at Key Transmission and Gears, simply want for our customers to have the best driving experience possible and sometimes a little extra car knowledge comes in handy.
May 16, 2017
Comparing Front and Rear Wheel Drive, AWD & 4WD, Part 1
To help our customers understand the differences Key Transmission and Gears in Englewood offers this helpful guide, Comparing Front and Rear Wheel Drive, AWD & 4WD, Part 1. There are a number of things the average driver probably doesn’t know, so for this 2-part series, we start with an explanation of how each of the drive types functions. We hope this will be helpful in choosing the right drive type for your needs the next time you buy a new car.
Before we begin discussing the drive types, it will be helpful for you to understand the function of a car part called the differential. Think about two wheels on an axle. Every time those two wheels are not going in a straight line, one must travel a longer distance than the other. Thus the one that has to go farther has to rotate faster than the other. That is where the differential comes into play. It is a device with gears that allows for one wheel to go quicker than the other and keep the car moving evenly.
Rear Wheel Drive
Rear wheel drive has been the drive type of choice for many years. This kind of drive is simple, easy to manufacture and provides a robust and reliable function. The setup is comprised of an engine in the front of the car with the transmission and a drive shaft transferring power to the rear wheel axle and thus the rear wheels. Though the power comes from the back, the front wheels handle the steering, effectively dividing the labor.
The advantages of rear wheel drive are, it is strong and durable, and therefore this drive type is used in almost all trucks (with the exception of some light-duty models) and also luxury and racing car models. As a car accelerates, weight transfers to the rear wheels as a natural byproduct of acceleration. Driving from the heavier-weighted rear wheels offers better and faster acceleration. Hence, all true sports cars and racing models come with rear wheel drive.
Front Wheel Drive
Front wheel drive, logically enough, keeps everything at the front of the car. The engine, transmission, drive gears, and differential are all there together at the front of the car. This type is popular in modern sedans in the middle to lower price ranges for two fundamental reasons, fuel economy and space efficiency.
Front wheel drive cars can be made lighter and afford more room inside the car without the addition of the drive shaft and other parts needed for rear wheel drive. All minivans are front wheel drive for this reason. Though front wheel drive can never compete with the performance capabilities of rear wheel drive, it does do a better job in slippery conditions, making it a popular choice for drivers that live in snowy areas like Colorado.
From all of us here at Key Transmission and Gears, we hope this guide, Comparing Front and Rear Wheel Drive, AWD & 4WD, Part 1, has helped you understand some key differences. Watch for our next article to find out the advantages and disadvantages of AWD and 4WD. And as always feel free to bring your car to our experts here in Englewood if you need help with any drive type.
April 14, 2017
What Does a Transmission Do, Anyway?
At Key Transmission and Gears, our business is transmissions. But you might be wondering what does a transmission do, anyway? You may not want to become a car engine expert, and that’s okay, but it is a good idea to have a little bit of an idea of how things work in your own vehicle. That way you are more likely to notice when something is not quite right and know when to take it to a professional before a small problem gets out of hand and becomes a massive repair.
The transmission has a vital function in your car’s engine. So, when your transmission stops working, your car stops moving – period. All the parts of the engine cooperate to create a great force, but that force is variable and uncontrolled. If the engine were connected directly to the wheels, the wheels would not turn at a constant speed and your ride would get a little crazy.
Also, the power produced by the engine is too high for the wheels. An engine generally produces a rotational speed of 600-7000 RPM while wheels typically operate somewhere between 0-1800 RPM. That’s a pretty big difference, and obviously, your wheels simply cannot keep up with the engine in that way. Notice that the engine speed doesn’t go down to zero? That means you wouldn’t be able to ever stop fully. Not a good thing.
The transmission is the magical device that brings that speed down and regulates it appropriately. Well, maybe it’s more scientific than magical, but you get the idea. In order to perform this function, the transmission uses a series of gear ratios and components like the differential.
Gears are little wheels of varying sizes with grooves, or teeth, around the edges. The ratio comes into play when these gears are fitted together. Imagine a wheel with 40 teeth around the edge, now imagine a smaller one with only 20 teeth. Now fit these two together and imagine that the smaller one is connected to the drive shaft. It will rotate twice for every one rotation of the big wheel. See what happened there? The speed gets cut in half.
In this case, the ratio would be written as 0.5:1. This depicts how many times the output gear rotates in relation to the input gear.
Now, inside the transmission, there are quite a few different little wheels with different gear ratios. Depending on the speed that the vehicle is traveling, different ratios are required. If you’ve ever driven a manual, you’ll understand this a little better as you have to shift the gears yourself. With an automatic transmission, your vehicle still makes those shifts – you’re just less likely to notice.
That’s about it! The answer to what does a transmission do, anyway, turns out, isn’t that complicated. Although if you were to peek inside your transmission, it looks quite complex. That’s why trusted professionals like our staff at Key Transmission and Gears are so essential for the proper maintenance and repair of your vehicle’s transmission. Give us a call today and we will be happy to answer any questions that you may have and offer our expert advice.
March 17, 2017
5 Signs You Need a Transmission Flush
You don’t need to be a professional like the Key Transmission and Gears team, but having a handle on tips like these 5 signs you need a transmission flush will come in handy for keeping your car running optimally and knowing when something isn’t quite right. Most importantly, you’ll know a bit more about how your vehicle works and when an issue needs help from our experts.
On average, you can expect that you should have a transmission flush performed around every 30,000 miles. For the average vehicle, that should be about 2 years. On occasion, however, things don’t go quite so perfectly and knowing the warning signs can help prevent a bigger issue from developing.
- Transmission begins to grind or make other strange noises
This usually happens because the transmission fluid is low or filled with grime or other sludge. If you notice odd sounds emanating from your transmission, you can check your transmission fluid with the vehicle running. Clean fluid will be bright red whereas dirty fluid will be brown or even black. If the level is good, that’s an indication that it needs a flush.
- Difficulty shifting gears
This applies whether your vehicle is manual or automatic. In an automatic, you may notice sluggish gear change performance, while in a manual it may become tough even to change gears. This is usually due to too much sludge, or grime, built up in the transmission fluid and is blocking proper flow.
- Gears are slipping
Another sign that your transmission fluid is too dirty and is not properly flowing is losing hydraulic power. Again, this can also be caused by too little fluid, but a simple check will tell you whether you have adequate fluid. If your level is right, you probably need a flush.
- Vehicle surging ahead
That inconsistent flow of dirty transmission fluid can also cause your car to surge ahead or fall back for unexplained reasons. If your car starts behaving erratically, the transmission fluid is a likely culprit.
- Sluggish vehicle response
The final sign that you may need a transmission flush is if your car is slow to respond when switching gears. It might even stall a little for a couple of seconds before catching and beginning to move after having switched gears.
Of course, as we mentioned at the beginning of this article, you don’t have to be an expert on cars to be a good driver. However, if you do notice one of these 5 signs you need a transmission flush it would be a great idea to turn it over to the professionals here at Key Transmission and Gears to find the problem and get it taken care of quickly and efficiently. Our 20 years of experience working in the Denver metro area has given us a wealth of knowledge when it comes to common vehicle problems, and we can get your vehicle up and running, back on the road in no time. Call or contact us today for an appointment.
February 24, 2017
Adding Transmission Gears is Adding Fuel Economy
With gas prices constantly on the rise, fuel economy is a big deal to buyers as they consider what type of car they want. Logically, to get better fuel economy, you have to sacrifice size, and we have seen smaller and smaller cars becoming more and more popular. But car manufacturers have found another trick to add to their bag. They have found that adding transmission gears is adding fuel economy.
Here at Key Transmission and Gears in Colorado, we like to keep up with the current trends and know what’s happening in the car world. We think our customers should be aware too, so here is the latest news about new engine models that are being developed with far more than the traditional 5 or 6 gears.
The 10-speed 2018 Ford Mustang
It’s all still in the rumor stage, but the Internet has been alive with speculation about Ford’s new Mustang for 2018. The word is that they will be releasing their newest Mustang complete with a 10-speed automatic transmission. It is not unprecedented as Ford and Chevy worked together to develop the popular 10-speed Camaro ZL1. It makes perfect sense that Ford would be turning out one of their own in the near future.
Last year Ford put in a patent on an 11-speed transmission. However, Honda is in the running with their 11-speed, 3-clutch design. It’s unclear as of yet, which one will release an 11-speed model first. This is great news for those of you that don’t like pouring money into your gas tank. Small cars will start getting insanely good gas mileage plus people won’t have to buy the smallest car available just to save on fuel. Larger vehicles could suddenly become much more efficient!
The mid-size Chevy Colorado is already a pretty popular choice as it strikes a delicate balance between a big get ‘er-done vehicle and fuel economy. The 2017 model with its 8-speed transmission and V6 engine just made a good thing even better. The idea is that this new model will come with better gas mileage, improved capabilities for gear shifting and improved towing capabilities.
Exciting new things are happening in the auto industry right now, and you want to be sure that you don’t get left behind. Not everybody wants to be a car expert so a great substitute is to find a reputable mechanic whose word you can trust when it comes to car questions. It’s also important that they are not stuck in a rut and are advancing and learning about each new technology as it comes out.
Here at Key Transmission and Gears, we have over 20 years of experience servicing cars in the metro Denver area. We move forward by building on our knowledge and learning new things every day. We’re excited about this concept that adding transmission gears is adding fuel economy and will ensure that our technicians know how to handle these new transmissions as they start arriving in our shop. Rest assured that you can trust us with your car repair needs.