Signs You Need a Car Alignment

Signs You Need a Car Alignment Key Transmission & Gear DenverWhat 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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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!

Manual Versus Automatic Transmissions

Manual Versus Automatic Transmissions Key Transmission and Gears EnglewoodToday, the experts at Key Transmissions and Gears in Englewood give you a quick primer on manual versus automatic transmissions. While most cars seem to come as automatics these days, there are still manuals available. Even if you don’t know how to drive one, you may be inclined to learn how so that you can enjoy some of the fun that comes with it. Then again, an automatics do have their own advantages, so let’s take a look at a few of the differences.

Ease of Use

As we said, when it comes to manual versus automatic transmissions, the most prominent issue is that a lot of people simply don’t know how to drive them. Manuals are more complicated to learn than automatics, and you have to be relatively coordinated to learn how to do it well.

Gas Mileage

Manuals typically win out over automatics in this department. Vehicles equipped with a manual transmission almost always get better gas mileage than vehicles equipped with an automatic. Of course, it can depend on how you drive it – speed being a major factor.

Other people driving your car

Fewer and fewer people know how to drive vehicles with manual transmissions these days so if you have one, that lowers the pool of people that can drive your car. This can either be a good thing or a bad thing. For example, if you’re injured (or had a little too much to drink at a party) the friend you would like to drive your car, may not know how to. On the flip side, your vehicle is less likely to be stolen as not all thieves know how to drive a manual.

Traffic

If you spend a lot of time in stop and go traffic, an automatic transmission will make your life so much easier. Instead of having to go through all the steps (clutch in, shift gears, clutch out) every time you crawl forward 10 feet you can simply take your foot off the brake.

Cost

Automatic transmissions are more complicated than their manual counterparts. Because of this, they tend to cost more at the outset. They require more transmission maintenance due to a more complex design. Add that to the reduced gas mileage, and you find that you can be paying quite a bit for the extra comfort that driving an automatic provides.

Fun

Because you have more control over a vehicle with a manual transmission, they are more fun to drive. In general, it can make you feel like a star in The Fast and the Furious to be picking up speed on the freeway and shifting gears. Just don’t have too much fun or you might end up with a speeding ticket.

Safety

A vehicle with an automatic transmission is a little bit safer to drive than one with a manual. The reason for this is that you can keep both hands on the wheel and more attention on the road because you don’t have to worry about the gears. However, once you become fluent in manual driving, this becomes less of a factor.

If you have questions about manual versus automatic transmissions, feel free to talk to our staff here at Key Transmission and Gears. And no matter what you drive, trust that our certified technicians know your transmission inside and out. We offer expert maintenance and repair right here at our shop in Englewood, Colorado.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

What Does a Transmission Do, Anyway?

What Does a Transmission Do, Anyway?At Key Transmission and Gears, our business is transmissions. But you might be wondering what does a transmission do, anyway? You may not want to become a car engine expert, and that’s okay, but it is a good idea to have a little bit of an idea of how things work in your own vehicle. That way you are more likely to notice when something is not quite right and know when to take it to a professional before a small problem gets out of hand and becomes a massive repair.

The transmission has a vital function in your car’s engine. So, when your transmission stops working, your car stops moving – period. All the parts of the engine cooperate to create a great force, but that force is variable and uncontrolled. If the engine were connected directly to the wheels, the wheels would not turn at a constant speed and your ride would get a little crazy.

Also, the power produced by the engine is too high for the wheels. An engine generally produces a rotational speed of 600-7000 RPM while wheels typically operate somewhere between 0-1800 RPM. That’s a pretty big difference, and obviously, your wheels simply cannot keep up with the engine in that way. Notice that the engine speed doesn’t go down to zero? That means you wouldn’t be able to ever stop fully. Not a good thing.

The transmission is the magical device that brings that speed down and regulates it appropriately. Well, maybe it’s more scientific than magical, but you get the idea. In order to perform this function, the transmission uses a series of gear ratios and components like the differential.

Gears are little wheels of varying sizes with grooves, or teeth, around the edges. The ratio comes into play when these gears are fitted together. Imagine a wheel with 40 teeth around the edge, now imagine a smaller one with only 20 teeth. Now fit these two together and imagine that the smaller one is connected to the drive shaft. It will rotate twice for every one rotation of the big wheel. See what happened there? The speed gets cut in half.

In this case, the ratio would be written as 0.5:1. This depicts how many times the output gear rotates in relation to the input gear.

Now, inside the transmission, there are quite a few different little wheels with different gear ratios. Depending on the speed that the vehicle is traveling, different ratios are required. If you’ve ever driven a manual, you’ll understand this a little better as you have to shift the gears yourself. With an automatic transmission, your vehicle still makes those shifts – you’re just less likely to notice.

That’s about it! The answer to what does a transmission do, anyway, turns out, isn’t that complicated. Although if you were to peek inside your transmission, it looks quite complex. That’s why trusted professionals like our staff at Key Transmission and Gears are so essential for the proper maintenance and repair of your vehicle’s transmission. Give us a call today and we will be happy to answer any questions that you may have and offer our expert advice.

5 Signs You Need a Transmission Flush

5 Signs You Need a Transmission FlushYou don’t need to be a professional like the Key Transmission and Gears team, but having a handle on tips like these 5 signs you need a transmission flush will come in handy for keeping your car running optimally and knowing when something isn’t quite right. Most importantly, you’ll know a bit more about how your vehicle works and when an issue needs help from our experts.

On average, you can expect that you should have a transmission flush performed around every 30,000 miles. For the average vehicle, that should be about 2 years. On occasion, however, things don’t go quite so perfectly and knowing the warning signs can help prevent a bigger issue from developing.

  1. Transmission begins to grind or make other strange noises

This usually happens because the transmission fluid is low or filled with grime or other sludge. If you notice odd sounds emanating from your transmission, you can check your transmission fluid with the vehicle running. Clean fluid will be bright red whereas dirty fluid will be brown or even black. If the level is good, that’s an indication that it needs a flush.

  1. Difficulty shifting gears

This applies whether your vehicle is manual or automatic. In an automatic, you may notice sluggish gear change performance, while in a manual it may become tough even to change gears. This is usually due to too much sludge, or grime, built up in the transmission fluid and is blocking proper flow.

  1. Gears are slipping

Another sign that your transmission fluid is too dirty and is not properly flowing is losing hydraulic power. Again, this can also be caused by too little fluid, but a simple check will tell you whether you have adequate fluid. If your level is right, you probably need a flush.

  1. Vehicle surging ahead

That inconsistent flow of dirty transmission fluid can also cause your car to surge ahead or fall back for unexplained reasons. If your car starts behaving erratically, the transmission fluid is a likely culprit.

  1. Sluggish vehicle response

The final sign that you may need a transmission flush is if your car is slow to respond when switching gears. It might even stall a little for a couple of seconds before catching and beginning to move after having switched gears.

Of course, as we mentioned at the beginning of this article, you don’t have to be an expert on cars to be a good driver. However, if you do notice one of these 5 signs you need a transmission flush it would be a great idea to turn it over to the professionals here at Key Transmission and Gears to find the problem and get it taken care of quickly and efficiently. Our 20 years of experience working in the Denver metro area has given us a wealth of knowledge when it comes to common vehicle problems, and we can get your vehicle up and running, back on the road in no time. Call or contact us today for an appointment.

Adding Transmission Gears is Adding Fuel Economy

Adding Transmission Gears is Adding Fuel EconomyWith gas prices constantly on the rise, fuel economy is a big deal to buyers as they consider what type of car they want. Logically, to get better fuel economy, you have to sacrifice size, and we have seen smaller and smaller cars becoming more and more popular. But car manufacturers have found another trick to add to their bag. They have found that adding transmission gears is adding fuel economy.

Here at Key Transmission and Gears in Colorado, we like to keep up with the current trends and know what’s happening in the car world. We think our customers should be aware too, so here is the latest news about new engine models that are being developed with far more than the traditional 5 or 6 gears. 

The 10-speed 2018 Ford Mustang

It’s all still in the rumor stage, but the Internet has been alive with speculation about Ford’s new Mustang for 2018. The word is that they will be releasing their newest Mustang complete with a 10-speed automatic transmission. It is not unprecedented as Ford and Chevy worked together to develop the popular 10-speed Camaro ZL1. It makes perfect sense that Ford would be turning out one of their own in the near future. 

The 11-speed, 3-clutch Honda

Last year Ford put in a patent on an 11-speed transmission. However, Honda is in the running with their 11-speed, 3-clutch design. It’s unclear as of yet, which one will release an 11-speed model first. This is great news for those of you that don’t like pouring money into your gas tank. Small cars will start getting insanely good gas mileage plus people won’t have to buy the smallest car available just to save on fuel. Larger vehicles could suddenly become much more efficient! 

The 8-speed Chevy Colorado

The mid-size Chevy Colorado is already a pretty popular choice as it strikes a delicate balance between a big get ‘er-done vehicle and fuel economy. The 2017 model with its 8-speed transmission and V6 engine just made a good thing even better. The idea is that this new model will come with better gas mileage, improved capabilities for gear shifting and improved towing capabilities.

Exciting new things are happening in the auto industry right now, and you want to be sure that you don’t get left behind. Not everybody wants to be a car expert so a great substitute is to find a reputable mechanic whose word you can trust when it comes to car questions. It’s also important that they are not stuck in a rut and are advancing and learning about each new technology as it comes out.

Here at Key Transmission and Gears, we have over 20 years of experience servicing cars in the metro Denver area. We move forward by building on our knowledge and learning new things every day. We’re excited about this concept that adding transmission gears is adding fuel economy and will ensure that our technicians know how to handle these new transmissions as they start arriving in our shop. Rest assured that you can trust us with your car repair needs.