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September 14, 2017

5 Easy Ways to Damage Your Transmission

5 Easy Ways to Damage Your Transmission Key Transmission & Gear DenverToday, 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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

get to know your car’s suspension systemWith 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

Top 10 Transmission ProblemsTo 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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. 

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

June 26, 2017

Comparing Front and Rear Wheel Drive, AWD & 4WD, Part 2

Comparing Front and Rear Wheel Drive, AWD & 4WD, Part 2In 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

Comparing Front and Rear Wheel Drive, AWD & 4WDTo 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.

 

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