Our Current Blog Articles
March 14, 2018
Changing Gears with an Automatic Transmission
Have you ever wondered about changing gears with an automatic transmission? Key Transmission and Gears in Englewood, Colorado has the answers for you. Even though you don’t change all the gears like in a manual vehicle, you still have some control over the gears. Knowing when to shift will help improve the power and efficiency of your car, truck or SUV’s engine.
Use the RPMs
The computer in your car understands how to shift the transmission according to the revolutions per minute or RPM. If the RPM goes up too high, the computer upshifts. Conversely, if the RPM drops too low, the computer sends the signal to downshift.
If you want to get your transmission to upshift, simply stomp down on the gas pedal until the RPM goes high enough to shift. Then ease off the pedal, so you don’t go rocketing down the highway. You may have already unintentionally used this tactic when you wanted a burst of speed to pass someone.
You can also do the opposite. If you want your transmission to downshift, let off the gas pedal. Once the RPM drops low enough, the transmission will shift down.
Use the Lever
Depending on your vehicle, you may have noticed that the transmission lever has more settings than the ones you typically use. You probably use park, reverse, and drive all the time and neutral on occasion. But have you ever noticed that there are a couple more after drive? These are usually labeled with numbers or simply an L. These are your extra low, strong gears.
Here’s when you might need to use them.
The computer on your vehicle’s engine is calibrated to the weight of your car and makes the gears shift based on that number. When you add extra weight to your vehicle, the computer doesn’t know that and often ends up choosing a gear that is too high for your current load. If you’re towing a trailer, boat or other toys, you’ll want to force it to drop down by changing gears with an automatic transmission.
Even though you don’t actually add extra weight, when you go up a steep hill gravity essentially makes your vehicle heavier. This puts added torque on your engine that you can balance by using a lower gear.
You might be wondering why you would use these lower gears to go downhill. Obviously, the load on your engine has been lessened quite a bit. You don’t need extra torque from the transmission, what you need are good brakes, right? Not so fast.
Instead of riding your brakes down a steep hill, which can be dangerous if they overheat, downshift. Changing gears with an automatic transmission (to a lower gear) helps to brake your engine, which slows you down without having to use the actual brakes. Knowing how to use this feature can really save your brakes in mountain driving.
We hope these tips from Key Transmission and Gears have been helpful. Now that you understand more about changing gears with an automatic transmission you may actually put those extra gears to use if you decide to head up into the mountains or tow a sweet teardrop trailer for your summer road trip. While driving a car with an automatic transmission is not as complicated as a manual, knowing these little tricks can help your engine run more efficiently and cause less wear and tear on your vehicle.
February 27, 2018
How to Damage a Transmission
You’ve probably never wondered how to damage a transmission. So, Key Transmission and Gears in Englewood, Colorado has the information you need to prevent inadvertently running up costly repairs. All you have to do is avoid making a few of these common driving mistakes to keep your transmission in great shape. It will save you from headaches and expenses that are entirely avoidable.
Take a look below to see how to damage a transmission so you can do the exact opposite and give your vehicle the proper care it needs.
Let Your Transmission Overheat
A great way to damage this vital component is to let your transmission overheat. Better yet, do it a few times. Transmissions are designed to withstand up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Excessive heat does so much damage to a transmission that for every 20 degrees over 200 your transmission goes up, it can cut its life expectancy by a factor of 2.
Don’t Maintain or Top Off Transmission Fluid
A big part of the transmission fluid’s job is to keep your transmission cool and lubricated. Without sufficient fluid, the components inside the transmission begin to grind against each other. This can cause both damage and overheating. If you want your transmission to die quick, let the fluid run low.
Your transmission also needs clean fluid. Dirty transmission fluid can eventually cause failure at the seals and gaskets. Using the wrong fluid can cause just as many problems.
Gun Your Engine When Starting Out
Abrupt starts cause your engine to work extra hard, and therefore produce a lot of excess heat. This is going to cause your transmission to overheat quicker.
Use Your Shift Lever Incorrectly
To put some excess strain on your transmission, use your shift lever for actions it is not designed for. For example, braking or stopping the transmission.
You can also use the parking designation on the shift lever to keep your vehicle stopped and not engage the parking brake. That way if something bumps your car (even gently) you can break the parking pawl in the transmission.
You’re supposed to stop your car before changing directions. But using the shift lever to switch from drive to reverse is a great way to damage the internal workings of the transmission.
Tow Your Car with Drive Wheels on the Ground
If you ever need to tow your car, you have an excellent opportunity to damage the transmission, clutch, and bands. Simply tow it with the drive wheels on the ground. For example, if your car is front wheel drive, put the front wheels on the ground. If your vehicle is rear-wheel drive, do the opposite. If your car is all wheel drive, it doesn’t matter. Put some or all of the wheels on the ground, and you’re sure to do some damage.
We hope you have enjoyed our take on how to damage a transmission. Many of these habits are easy to avoid, as long as you know what to avoid. With good driving habits, you can help your transmission work properly for many, many miles. If you have damaged your transmission, we won’t judge. Just bring your car to Key Transmission and Gears in Englewood, Colorado for honest, expert repairs.
January 15, 2018
Different Types of Transmissions
Did you know that there are 3 different types of transmissions? Today, our experts at Key Transmission and Gears in Englewood, Colorado, will tell you all about them. Most people at least know that there are 2 basic types, manual and automatic. The third is called a continuously variable transmission or CVT. Let’s talk about what a transmission does, and then we’ll give a quick description of all three types.
A transmission is your car’s method of channeling power from the engine to the wheels. In other words, torque comes from the engine through an input shaft into the transmission. It passes through the gears of the transmission and is then transferred to the wheels by way of an output shaft.
Different gears control your car at different speeds. Each gear has its own specific ratio that turns your wheels at just the right speed, even in relation to each other. And as we said, there are 3 different types of transmissions.
In a vehicle with a manual transmission, the driver is responsible for changing the gears. We disengage the gears by pressing the clutch pedal and then shift between them with a stick on the console. Back in the day, the stick was sometimes on the steering wheel but in modern cars, you’ll find it on the console.
Many people like the control that this gives them over a vehicle. They can control the exact point when their vehicle shifts gears. In most cases, this design offers better gas mileage which is another plus.
The automatic transmission does all the work for you. The transmission still has various gears, but you don’t have to switch between them. Multiple sensors in the vehicle monitor specific parameters and change gears accordingly.
Automatic transmissions tend to be more comfortable to drive, particularly if you spend a lot of time in stop and go traffic. They also usually require less maintenance than manuals which is a nice bonus.
Continuously Variable Transmissions
This transmission is steadily gaining popularity in the US, but you may not have run into it yet. Instead of gears, the CVT uses belts and pulleys that give the ability to have an infinite number of ratios.
In short, the transmission never has to shift. Some people find this disconcerting if they are familiar driving one of the other two types of transmissions. Always test drive a car before you buy. Some people just can’t get used to a CVT.
Needless to say, the ride is generally smoother, and the vehicle gets better gas mileage. This type of transmission is already commonly seen in scooters, motorcycles, and snowmobiles. Because of the smoothness, they’re also being seen more and more in hybrid cars.
Want upkeep or repair on any of the different types of transmissions? That’s what Key Transmission and Gears in Englewood is here for. With over 20 years of experience with all things transmissions, we’re certainly qualified to provide our expertise. Give us a call to schedule an appointment or stop by the shop.
December 20, 2017
Driving with Transmission Issues
How much do you know about driving with transmission issues? Our staff here at Key Transmission and Gears in Englewood, Colorado have put together a bit of information for you.
How do you know that something might be wrong with your transmission? Is it safe to keep driving your car if you feel the automatic transmission slipping? Let’s take a look at a few signs that your transmission is not in great shape and what could be happening with this crucial component.
It Changes Gears When It Shouldn’t
When an automatic transmission changes gears, you can usually hear a noise or change in pitch. If you start hearing that noise when your transmission shouldn’t be changing gears, such as driving on a flat road at a steady speed, that’s an indication that you’re driving with transmission issues.
Rough Gear Changes
While it is normal to hear a change in pitch when an automatic transmission switches gears, clunking or thudding is not. Also, notice if you feel unusual or more pronounced vibrations. These are indications that the gears are not changing smoothly. You also may find that the vehicle doesn’t accelerate well due to difficulty with the gear changes. These should be fluid, and the vehicle shouldn’t jerk or shake.
Vehicle is Less Responsive
When you shift from park to drive, a car should respond and begin moving right away. If you experience a significant delay, that’s an indication your transmission isn’t functioning correctly. Your engine may rev up and sound like it’s doing something, but your car won’t go anywhere for a time. This is unacceptable.
Low Fluid Level
The first thing to do if you notice that the transmission is slipping is to check your transmission fluid. Put the vehicle in park and leave it idling while checking the fluid level. The transmission has a dipstick to see the fluid level. If you find that it is low, give us a call immediately to service the transmission fluid.
Sometimes the fluid level is just low. But sometimes there is a reason, such as a leak. You can often tell if you have a leak by simply checking your garage floor. Transmission fluid is red, and a significant leak will leave marks under where your car is usually parked. If you notice these spots and transmission slipping symptoms, you can be very sure there is a leak. In that case, have an expert take a look.
So, should you continue driving with any of these transmission issues? It's not recommended. If it’s bad enough, your vehicle could be quite unsafe. You don’t want your vehicle unexpectedly changing gears at random moments. It’s dangerous and could end up causing extensive damage to your engine.
Be sure to have your transmission checked out by the experts. We here at Key Transmission and Gears have over 20 years of experience working on transmissions. We have the knowledge necessary to get you safely back on the road again. Give us a call today and don’t risk driving with transmission issues.
November 22, 2017
Signs You Need a Car Alignment
What are the signs you need a car alignment? At Key Transmission and Gears in Englewood, Colorado we have put together this handy list since it’s a question we hear often. Car alignment is an easy process, and you’ll save yourself a big headache down the road by addressing it sooner than later. For example, you may have to buy all new tires if you drive for too long with your car out of alignment because they will wear unevenly.
So let’s get to it. Here are 5 signs you need a car alignment:
- Steering Wheel Not Centered
When driving on a straight, flat surface, your steering wheel should be perfectly centered. Or close to it at least. The vehicle’s emblem that is usually in the center of the steering wheel should be level. If your steering wheel has to be turned to go straight down a straight road, that’s an indication that your car is not aligned correctly.
- The Car Pulls One Way or the Other
Some people still check their alignment by letting go of the steering wheel on a straight road and seeing if the car continues straight. The truth is that not only is this dangerous as you should never let go of the steering wheel entirely but also road conditions may make the car pull a little.
A better way to check is to see if the vehicle will drive straight but with very minimal effort on your part, to keep the steering wheel from turning. You can do this at a slower speed, perhaps in a parking lot or on a quiet street.
- Tire Wear
Remember that we mentioned driving a car out of alignment causes wear on the tires? It can cause all sorts of different wear patterns. If you notice that your tires are not wearing evenly, be sure to check the alignment of your car. Being out of alignment is not the only problem that can cause tire wear. A knowledgeable mechanic can make a good guess as to what the issue is just by examining the wear pattern.
- Loose Handling
Some vehicles naturally have more play in the steering wheel than others. However, if your vehicle has unusually loose handling, especially around corners and such, the alignment may be to blame. Be sure to have it checked quickly to ensure maximum safety on the road.
- Steering Wheel Doesn’t Return to Center
After completing a turn, the steering wheel in a properly aligned vehicle will seek to go back to center. Of course, you should never let go and let the car straighten itself on its own. But if the steering wheel doesn’t even attempt to seek center, that’s an indication that your vehicle is out of alignment.
As soon as you notice one or more of these signs you need a car alignment, bring your car in. Driving a vehicle out of alignment for an extended period will eventually cause a host of other problems, not just with your tires. If you need help or further advice related to your vehicle, don’t hesitate to give us a call here at Key Transmission and Gears. We’re here to serve you!