Answers to your most pressing concerns.
We hear dozens of questions daily from clients like you. We took the time to compile the most common questions for you to read through. Please feel free to e-mail us with your questions.
TRANSMISSION DIAGNOSTICS & FINDING THE RIGHT REPAIR FACILITY
Q1: What is included in the initial evaluation and why do you charge for it?
The purpose of the initial evaluation is to first determine if the problem you are having is transmission related and if so, is it a minor or major problem?
- We begin by checking the transmission fluid level and condition of the fluid
- We then scan your vehicle’s on-board computer system to determine if there are any trouble codes stored in memory
- We road test your vehicle to duplicate your complaint
- We leave the scanning equipment connected during the road test so that we can monitor the electronics on your vehicle...we want to make sure that the proper commands are being sent to the transmission
- If needed, we will perform a lift inspection to pinpoint leaks and/or noises
- We will call you to discuss your repair options.
There are several reasons why there is a charge to perform the initial evaluation.
- Our technicians have decades of experience diagnosing transmission problems – they are highly skilled professionals. What separates us from a general automotive repair facility is that we have the experience and ability to perform not only major transmission rebuilds, but also minor repairs to your transmission. Just because you are having transmission issues does not necessarily mean that it needs to be rebuilt or replaced – quite often we are successful in replacing defective shift solenoids, switches, computers, worn or broken valve-body components, shorted wiring systems, etc. to correct your complaint.
- We invest thousands of dollars annually to keep our computer scanning equipment up to date with the most current information available, our technicians attend seminars to keep up to date in the latest technology and we have online access to technical forums and database information
- We spend at a minimum, 30 minutes, on the initial evaluation so that we can give you an accurate diagnosis. The charge for the initial evaluation ranges between $75 - $125, depending on the amount of time required by the technician. The most expensive transmission repair is the one that you didn’t need – let the transmission specialist at Circle D correctly diagnose your transmission issues.
Q2: How do I find a reputable transmission repair facility?
- Ask trusted family members, friends or co-workers for personal recommendations.
- You should also look at reviews and business information online at sites such as The Better Business Bureau and Angie’s List. You can learn a lot about a company’s track record by taking the time to search their online reputation.
- You should also see what professional organizations and affiliations that they belong to. Transmission shops should belong to organizations such as ATRA (Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association) and ATSG (Automatic Transmission Service Group.) Member shops of these groups must abide by certain codes of ethical repair AND they will also have technical assistance available from some of the leading transmission experts in the Country. Another organization that performs rigorous quality checks through customer satisfaction surveys and shop inspections from their customer service representatives is AAA Texas.
- Ask the following questions:
- Do you offer itemized invoices and written warranty policies?
- Does your facility have established procedures to guide me through the repair process?
- What is the average tenure of your technicians?
- Does your shop promote a drug-free work environment?
- How long has your company been in business? Is the owner on site?
- Trust your instincts when you call or visit a repair facility. You want to do business with a company that operates in a clean, organized & professional manner. You want technicians who take pride in their work and will provide you with a first-class job. You want to deal with a service advisor and staff who treat you with respect and listen to your concerns. You must feel a sense of trust about this company – after all, you are investing your time and money in their services. Transmission repair is often feared by people because there’s so much unknown. You need to find a repair facility that takes the time to educate you about your repair choices and helps you make an informed decision. We’d be honored if you’d allow us the opportunity to assist you with your transmission repair.
Q3: What does it mean to retrieve trouble codes from my vehicle?
If you notice a flashing or blinking light in the dash of your vehicle, it may be setting a trouble code. You need to get this looked at right away. Often times simple electronic issues could be resolved without having to rebuild or replace the transmission if they are addressed promptly. Late model computer controlled vehicles are equipped with several different on-board control modules. As the vehicle malfunctions a signal is sent to the appropriate module where it is stored in the memory as a trouble code. We are able to retrieve trouble codes by connecting our diagnostic equipment/scanners to your vehicle. The information that we read with our scanners will point us in the direction of the source of the problem. Often times, defective shift solenoids, sensors or wiring issues are the culprits. Don’t assume that just because your transmission isn’t shifting properly that it needs to be rebuilt or replaced.
TRANSMISSION REBUILD QUESTIONS & PRICING
Q4: If I tell you what my vehicle is doing wrong can you tell me how much it will cost to fix?
First of all, how do you know that the problem you are having is transmission related? Even if your transmission isn’t shifting properly, that could be due to:
- An engine performance issue
- A restricted exhaust
- A malfunctioning control module/computer
- A defective sensor, switch, shift solenoid or a wide range of wiring issues
If you have a leak, that could be coming from many sources:
- Leaking cooler lines
- Ruptured transmission cooler
- Loose pan bolts
- Leaking fittings
- Leaks from various external seals
- Leaking electrical connections to the transmission
- It may not even be the transmission leaking (could be motor oil, power steering fluid…)
So, there is no way to accurately quote you a price without having the opportunity to perform our initial evaluation to determine what exactly needs to be repaired. Otherwise, we are just guessing and this is not in your best interest.
Q5: Will servicing my transmission fix the issues that I’m having?
Very rarely will servicing the transmission fix any issues that you’re having. Unless the filter became loose and fell off in the pan or your transmission fluid was not at the correct level (not due to a leak) would you have any success fixing your transmission by changing the fluid and filter. Also, if you change your fluid and filter you’ve taken away one of our greatest diagnostic tools. When we remove the pan, we inspect any debris in the pan, we also cut the filter open to see if there’s any debris trapped inside. Debris in the pan and the condition of the fluid are excellent indicators as to what may be going on inside the transmission.
Q6: I’ve called many different transmission shops, why am I getting such a wide range of prices?
We’ve found that a lot of people call asking for a price because they don’t know what else to ask. While we understand that price is a very important factor, it honestly should not be the deciding factor. Plus, how are you able to accurately compare from one quote to another? Parts that we may include in our estimate may be considered an extra part in another shop’s estimate.
So, we’ve compiled a list of questions that you should be asking:
- How long have you been in business?
- What is your rating with the BBB?
- Are you a AAA Texas Approved Repair Facility?
- Does your shop employ ASE certified technicians?
- What type of training/seminars do your technicians attend?
- Does your shop keep diagnostic tools/scanners up to date?
- Does your shop provide insurance while my vehicle is in your possession?
- Do you have established procedures for diagnosing my transmission issues?
- Do you get my authorization before completing repairs?
- Do you offer itemized invoices and written warranty policies?
- How do you handle warranty issues?
Q7. Why should I service my transmission and how often should I have it done?
Since heat is generated in an automatic transmission, the fluid will actually degrade and break down over time. By having your transmission serviced on a regular basis you will help extend the life of your transmission. Under normal driving conditions we suggest that you have your transmission serviced every 2 years or 25,000 miles. We also use a Universal Synthetic Transmission Fluid which aids in extending the life of your transmission by allowing it to run cooler and cleaner while lubricating your transmission and helping the fluid maintain its viscosity in a broad operating temperature range.
Q8. What’s the difference between servicing, draining & filling and flushing my transmission?
This is what we do when we service an automatic transmission with a removable pan. This is a very involved process:
- We check the transmission fluid level and condition
- We road test the vehicle to verify that the transmission is functioning properly
- We raise the vehicle up on the lift to externally inspect for any fluid leaks, loose bolts, etc.
- We remove the transmission pan and filter
- We break the filter open to see if there is any debris trapped in the filter – this is a critical step because if debris is found it’s an early warning sign that something is failing internally
- We install a new transmission filter and replace the fluid that was lost when the pan was removed, generally about half the fluid in the unit, 5 quarts
- We then do a final road test, lift inspection and fluid level check
For a drain and fill, we follow the same procedures as above, except we do not pull the pan – we just pull the drain plug and then refill the transmission fluid to the proper level.
For a transmission flush, we perform all of the above steps, but we replace all of the fluid in the system. We recommend a flush if the transmission fluid has become very dark or if your transmission was contaminated with water.
Q9. Help – I drove through high water and I think I have water in my transmission…what do I do?
Living in the Bayou City, it’s inevitable that at one point in time you will be exposed to high water driving conditions. One of the signs that your transmission was contaminated with water is that the fluid will resemble a strawberry milkshake. Once water has entered the system, the adhesive on the clutch linings will begin to dissolve and the lining will detach from the clutch plates. This will eventually restrict the fluid flow in the transmission. Also, the water will begin to rust the metal components of the transmission and the electronic components will be adversely affected. If you act quickly, turn the vehicle off, do not drive it, have it towed, and have the transmission flushed immediately there is a chance that you will be able to salvage the unit. However, there are many factors that determine if a flush will be successful in saving your transmission: the amount of water that entered the system, if you drove the vehicle and circulated the water in the transmission and the length of time that it was inside the transmission are all huge contributing factors.