Engine light diagnostics

Decoding the Mystery of Engine Light Diagnostics

As a driver, one of the scariest moments is when the check engine light flashes on the dashboard. A sense of doom fills the air as you wonder what could possibly be wrong with your car. Engine light diagnostics can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be a mystery. At Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care, we are here to help drivers in Louisville, KY, decode the mystery of the check engine light.

Why Is My Car Not Shifting Smoothly? Transmission Problems

Let’s face it: a transmission rebuild is a big deal. Chances are it’s the largest investment you’ll ever make when it comes to car repairs. So when you get it back, you expect it to shift perfectly. Not an unreasonable expectation.

But it might not shift the way you were hoping… at least, not right away. And that may be perfectly normal.

Transmission Slipping Issues

Here is why your car is not shifting smoothly:

Today’s automatic transmissions are fully controlled by computers. Nothing new there; we’ve been talking about that for years. What you might not realize is that those computers do more than tell the transmission when to shift: They also modify operating commands to compensate for a host of variables, such as component wear, by going through a “learning” process.

That’s why you may not notice a problem with your transmission until it completely fails; the computer has been adapting its commands to maintain a smooth, clean shift as long as possible. Those adjustments can compensate for a lot of wear inside the transmission.

That’s not all: Today’s transmission control systems also adapt to your particular driving habits. Are you a bit heavy on the gas pedal? The computer will learn that and compensate to provide the best performance and smoothest shifts.

Same thing if you’re particularly light on the gas. Or if you tend to drive on flat or hilly roads. Whatever the conditions, the computer system will learn and adapt. But that learning process takes a little time.

After a major repair, the technician resets the computer to base operating levels; with those settings, the transmission works, but not at its best. From there the computer begins to learn, based on internal clearances… and your driving style. And it’ll continue learning for a few weeks or more. During that time, the transmission may not shift at its optimum level. Give it a little time; it’ll get there.

Transmission Problem Repair

In the meanwhile, if you’re unsure of your transmission’s operation and your car is not shifting smoothly after it’s had a major repair at your nearby Cottman center, give them a call. They’ll check the transmission and the computer system to make sure it’s learning properly. Just know that your transmission computer may continue to learn for several weeks before it begins operating at its best.

Transmission Flush Or Fluid Change? Transmission Service Explained

You’re probably already aware that you should have your automatic transmission serviced on a regular basis. And, if you’re a longtime car owner, you may be familiar with a transmission service that includes dropping the pan, replacing the filter, and replacing a few quarts of oil.

Transmission Fluid Exchange

Then again, you may have heard about another type of service. Sometimes called a “fluid exchange,” the service involves pumping nearly all the old transmission fluid out and replacing it with new fluid. That sounds good, but in many centers that service doesn’t include dropping the pan or replacing the filter.

So which service is better? A transmission flush or fluid change? Which one is more likely to provide you with the longest transmission life?

The best answer is actually a combination of the two.

In that service, the technician brings the car in and drops the pan, just like the older service. This gives him a chance to examine any debris in the sump, so he can evaluate the condition of your transmission. And, at the same time, he can replace the filter.

Then he reinstalls the pan and then moves on to the fluid exchange service. That’s better than the old-style service because it replaces more of the old, worn out fluid. Your transmission is better protected because you now have a new filter and nearly all new fluid.

Expert Transmission Service

You can ask for this complete transmission service procedure at your local Cottman center. They understand the benefits of checking the sump and replacing the filter, and they’re only too happy to make sure your transmission receives the very best service possible.

As a bonus, if you perform this service regularly — say once every couple years for most cars and light trucks — there’s a good chance you’ll never need major transmission repairs, and won’t have to choose between a transmission flush or fluid change, making it a worthwhile investment for you.

To learn more or to schedule an appointment for a complete transmission service, contact your local Cottman center.

Car Shaking When Shifting: Is It A Transmission Problem?

You’re driving down the road and everything seems normal. Then all of a sudden you feel the car shaking when shifting gears.

Or maybe it seems to stop shifting and now it has no power when you take off from a stop.

Then again, maybe the engine RPM is a little too fast when you’re cruising down the road because the transmission isn’t shifting into high gear.

Transmission problems? Maybe. But there’s an even better chance that what you’re dealing with has actually nothing to do with the transmission itself. All of these problems are often related to the computer systems in today’s cars.

Transmission Problems Or Computer System?

Once upon a time, the transmission was a completely separate system from the rest of the vehicle. So, when the transmission acted up it was nearly always because of a transmission failure.

But every system on today’s cars and trucks is firmly integrated with all the others. A problem in the engine, brakes, body — or, yes, the transmission — can affect performance in the rest of the vehicle.

So how can you tell whether the “transmission” problem you’re facing is actually in the transmission or something else entirely?

You can’t. Not in most cases.

Vehicle Control Systems

Fortunately, your local Cottman center technicians can. They’re extensively trained in all the latest vehicle control systems. They know how to pinpoint problems that can affect transmission operation in any one of a dozen or more related vehicle systems.

Your job is simply to let them know exactly what you felt when the problem occurred. You need to be able to describe the problem in detail, including:

  • What exactly did you feel?
  • What were you doing (driving conditions) when the problem occurred?
  • How long had the car been running?

…and any other details that could help the technician duplicate and pinpoint the specific failure that’s causing your transmission to act up. Once they have that information, they’ll be able to find and correct the problem you’re experiencing.

Today’s transmission problems may not have anything to do with the transmission. But if you do find your car shaking while shifting gears, there’s still one place you can count on to find the root cause of the problem… and fix it: your local Cottman center.

Fresh and Cool This Summer

Did you know that manufacturers recommend checking your Climate Control Air Conditioning systems every two years to help keep your family cool? This usually means evacuating the refrigerant gas, replacing the lubricating oil, and carrying out a system leak test.

Over time the air conditioning gases escape causing the engine to vibrate, piping to move and rubber rings to expand and contract, resulting in leakage. This worsens if the air-con is not used during the winter months as with no oil passing through the system, the small rubber “O” ring seals can dry out resulting in increased leakage and a gradual deterioration in performance.

See the latest AutoFacts video to learn how your car’s air conditioning system works.

If your car air conditioner isn’t running efficiently, needs a recharge, or you haven’t had it serviced for a long time, now is your moment. Go ahead, book a Cottman car air conditioning service today*.

Did you know the state of your air conditioning system doesn’t just impact the temperature of your car?  If you are experiencing bad smells coming from the air ventilation system, this may be caused by a build-up of bacteria. As your car ages, or when the air conditioning systems are used infrequently, bacteria, micro-organisms, mould and fungus start growing behind the dash panel on the evaporator causing some very unpleasant odors which can be harmful to your family.  Thankfully, it’s good to know that cleaning your system is an easy and inexpensive process at your local Cottman Transmissions & Total Auto Care center.

You can also find out more about air conditioning systems here