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All About Transmissions: Don’t Let the Check Engine Light Spoil Your Holidays


That little red light that can strike fear into any heart – especially with the holiday travel season just around the corner. It’s not Rudolph’s nose or the glow of your Christmas tree – it’s the Check Engine light, of course. What does this little red beacon of despair indicate? Often, the culprit is your transmission.

Let’s take a look at what function your transmission performs and how to tell if it needs some attention.

What does the transmission do?

It essentially carries power from your vehicle’s engine to the drive axle. Various gears are involved in the process, which accounts for the different speeds at which your car can run.

Signs of trouble

There are some telltale indicators that something’s amiss with your transmission.

    Watch out for:
  • A burning smell from the transmission fluid.
  • Unusual noises when your car is in neutral. Think humming, clunking, and grinding.
  • The clutch staying engaged and making a grinding noise when you try to shift.
  • The transmission going into neutral or otherwise changing gears while you’re driving.
  • Your vehicle lagging between gear changes and running at a higher RPM than is normal.

Common culprits

Here’s what could be causing your Check-Engine-Light drama.

1. The transmission fluid needs to be changed.

A full fluid exchange (or flush) may be necessary or the fluid and filter may need to be changed. The difference between the two services is that a transmission fluid flush includes the pan being cleaned and the filter and gasket are replaced.

2. A transmission flush is necessary.

This procedure involves clearing out the grime and sludge that has built up in the transmission. A cleaning solution is run through the system and new fluid is added.

3. The transmission needs to be rebuilt or replaced.

In some cases, your only option is to make a big choice – have the transmission rebuilt or purchase a new one. You’ll want to seek the advice of a trusted mechanic if you’re ever faced with this situation.

Preventive maintenance is key

The truth is, you can avoid having to make hard decisions and putting big money into your transmission if you maintain it properly. Follow the instructions in your vehicle owner’s manual and talk with your auto care experts about how often maintenance tasks should be performed for your specific vehicle.

You can trust Conrad’s

As soon as you see that red light come on – or you notice some strange behavior from your vehicle – give us a call and let our skilled mechanics take a look at what’s going on.

Better yet, come and see us BEFORE you get an unwelcome surprise!

Visit a Conrad’s Tire Express & Total Car Care Location near you today!

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