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.

Top Signs You Have a Clutch Problem

Top Signs You Have a Clutch ProblemIf you drive a manual vehicle for long enough, here in Englewood or across Denver, you will eventually run into problems with your clutch. That’s why it’s so important to know the top signs you have a clutch problem. Key Transmission and Gears presents this helpful list because we know that there is no good guideline, mileage or time passed, to determine when your clutch might go out and need to be replaced.

When it comes to your clutch, the type of driving that you do and the type of driver you are will have the biggest impact on performance. For example, the more you ride the clutch, the faster it wears out. What you can do is pay attention for the top signs you have a clutch problem.

  1. You notice a burning smell

An overheating clutch plate will give off a smell akin to burning rubber. You might even notice a bit of smoke coming out from under your vehicle. Don’t think that just because you don’t see smoke that something isn’t wrong. The burning smell may be unaccompanied by smoke and is still an indication of something being wrong. This is usually created by riding the clutch and is an indicator that you need to have your clutch checked immediately.

  1. You’re having trouble shifting

You might notice that the car starts to shake a lot when shifting, or it becomes increasingly difficult to engage a new gear. This effect usually shows up first in either reverse or first gear so pay particular attention when shifting into those two gears.

  1. You notice that the car starts slipping out of gear

This will show up most often when the car is working hard, such as when going uphill or accelerating. The car starts to be jerky and may even slip completely out of gear. You need to have your clutch checked, as at the very least it needs, to be repaired and possibly even completely replaced.

  1. You can see visible damage to the clutch

If you are one of those people who know what you are doing, you can get under your vehicle and do some detective work. There is usually an inspection cover on the bottom of the bell housing that you can remove in order to see the clutch itself. If you see a fine black dust all over the clutch, don’t worry about that, it is normal. However, if you can see marks and damage on the clutch, then you know that repairs are in order.

Of course, you don’t have to be an expert mechanic to ensure that your car is in good working condition. These top signs you have a clutch problem are just to help you know when to take your car to a qualified mechanic, like the ones we have here at Key Transmission and Gears. Our trained technicians are excellent at inspecting your vehicle and determining whether you have potential problems popping up. Give us a call today if you think you might need some repairs or even just to put your mind at ease.

How to Detect a Problem With Your Car’s Clutch

How to Detect a Problem With Your Car’s ClutchHere at Key Transmission and Gears in Sheridan, Colorado we want you to be safe out on the road. So, we’ve written up a handy guide on how to detect a problem with your car’s clutch. It’s an important aspect of road safety and something that every driver who owns a manual car should know about. By being able to identify issues early, you’ll know what to do and when to ask a professional for help.

It’s hard to predict when your clutch is going to fail. It quite literally depends on the environment in which the car is usually driven and the driving style of the primary driver. If the driver rides the clutch a lot, you can bet that the clutch will wear out much faster.

To put things into perspective, a clutch can last anywhere from 20,000 miles to 150,000 miles. That’s quite a big range! Needless to say, how to detect a problem with your car’s clutch isn’t as simple as keeping an eye on your mileage. Here are a few things to be on the lookout for, indications that it’s time to replace your clutch–or at least have a professional take a look.

Spongy Feeling

If your clutch starts to get a “spongy” feel, this is an early sign of clutch failure. Pay close attention to when the gears catch. If you must let out the clutch almost entirely before the gear kicks in, your clutch is pretty worn out.

Burning Smell

If you start to notice a burning smell when you use the clutch, that’s another indication that failure is imminent. The clutch is beginning to slip, which causes excess friction, which causes the smell.

Difficulty Shifting

If the gears are not engaging smoothly and the car is shaking a lot when changing gears, something is wrong. This warning sign is most apparent in first gear and reverse.

Visibly Damaged Clutch

If you know a little about cars, pull off the inspection cover and take a look at your clutch. Any visible signs of wear and damage mean that it’s going bad. However, if you see fine black dust, this is normal and not an indication that your clutch is going out.

When in Doubt, Test It Out

If you’re still not sure how to detect a problem with your car’s clutch, try this quick road test. Rev the engine high in first gear and then go directly to fifth gear. If the gear doesn’t catch, as in the vehicle keeps whining and revving high, the clutch is going out. However, if the gear catches and the car begins to shake from being in the wrong gear and tries to pick up speed, then your clutch is still okay.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns on how to detect a problem with your car’s clutch, or just want the peace of mind of having a professional examine it, give us a call. Here at Key Transmission and Gears in Sheridan, our staff is always happy to help out our customers in any way that we can.

Automatic Transmissions For Your Vehicle

Automatic Transmissions For Your VehicleIf you own a car these days, it most likely has an automatic transmission in it. Manual transmission cars are getting to be less and less common as automatic transmission design continues to improve. But do you know what an automatic transmission does? The friendly team here at Key Transmission and Gears in Sheridan, Colorado would like to explain a bit about automatic transmissions for your vehicle.

Some people may think that because the driver doesn’t have to manually change gears in a vehicle with an automatic transmission, the car never changes gears. But that isn’t the case. Instead, an automatic transmission shifts the gears automatically so that the driver doesn’t have to.

There are a few types of automatic transmissions with the most popular being hydraulic. A fluid coupling is used instead of the friction clutch, and the transmission changes the gears hydraulically. Continuously variable transmissions and semi-automatic transmissions are also available but are not as common.

Obviously, a significant advantage of an automatic transmission over a manual one is that the driver is required to do less. In theory, this makes our roads safer as drivers should be able to keep both hands on the wheel at all times. Instead of having to remove one to shift, they can devote their full attention to the road and not have to keep an eye on the tachometer, thinking about when to shift.

The automatic transmission also makes it possible for people who don’t have use of all their limbs to drive. The driver only needs two limbs to drive an automatic, whereas a manual typically requires all four. Cars can also be modified inside so that the driver can choose whichever two limbs they use.

If all of this sounds great, you might be wondering why manufacturers are still making manual cars and why some people still choose to drive them.

For starters, because of the way automatic transmissions function, there is a reduction in mechanical efficiency when transferring power between the engine and the drivetrain. Plus, a general reduction of control over the engine occurs. An automatic transmission can sometimes lag a bit in changing gears, while a manual gives the driver full control.

This disparity is even greater in city driving and comes with a drop in fuel efficiency. Continuous improvement in transmission and coupler design has lessened that drop in fuel efficiency considerably, but a manual transmission still gets better gas mileage. Plus, sports car and race car drivers still prefer the extra control over the engine that a manual transmission affords.

The experts at Key Transmission and Gears in Sheridan are always on hand to help answer any questions or concerns about automatic transmissions for your vehicle. If it’s been too long since your last tune-up, give us a call today to have your transmission checked out. It is always easier to address problems earlier rather than later and usually ends up being a far less expensive repair.

Call or contact us today to schedule an appointment.

5 Most Common Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Transmission PART 2

5 Most Common Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Transmission PART 2 Last time at Key Transmissions and Gears, we talked about 2 of the 5 most common mistakes that can ruin your transmission. This time we’ll finish up the other 3. Armed with knowing what NOT to do, you will be adequately equipped to ensure that your transmission lives a long and productive life.

As you may recall, the first two mistakes were not servicing the transmission and not refilling the transmission fluid. 

  1. Using the wrong type of transmission fluid

Just as bad as not putting in the fluid at all, is putting in the wrong type of fluid. Transmission fluids vary drastically from one to the other in viscosity and additives and using the wrong type will quickly degrade or even destroy your transmission. So be sure to check with the ASE certified team at Key Transmission for good advice.

  1. Pretending a problem will go away

Virtually all car owners seem to suffer from the same delusion that if they ignore a warning sign long enough it will go away. The truth is that they are often right, the warning signs do go away, but after something disastrous has happened.

So if you notice strange noises when changing gears, find dark red fluid stains on your driveway or have trouble with shaking, slipping, grinding of the gears or even straight up stalling, you should bring your vehicle in. You might worry about the cost of repairs, but you will inevitably end up paying a lot more by continuing to drive and severely damaging the transmission.

  1. Letting your transmission get too hot

Transmissions are not designed to take a lot of heat. Overheating causes about 90% of transmission failures. Roughly speaking, for about every 20 degrees that your transmission goes over the recommended temperature and is allowed to continue running, its life gets cut in half.

There are various reasons that your transmission could be running hot. Sometimes it’s a simple fix like cleaning out the transmission fluid and replacing it, although it could also be slippage or a defective solenoid. Regardless of what is causing the excessive heat, it will be less expensive to fix whatever minor issue is causing it, than waiting for the transmission to fail altogether and paying for a replacement.

Here at Key Transmission and Gears in Sheridan, Colorado we want our customers to know how best to take care of their vehicles, in particular, their car’s transmission. One of the most efficient ways to keep our customers happy is to maintain their vehicles in good working order. The absolute best way of accomplishing that is to properly educate the vehicle owner on a few simple steps that will go a very long way towards the health of the transmission.

We hope our 5 Most Common Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Transmission has been helpful to you, and we recommend following it to get the longest life out of your transmission. Of course, if you have any questions or begin to experience issues, call or contact the friendly professionals at Key Transmission.

5 Most Common Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Transmission, Part 1

5 Most Common Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Transmission, Part 1What do you need to know about your transmission to keep it in good working order and ensure a long life? Our experts here at Key Transmission and Gears in Denver, Colorado know the 5 most common mistakes that can ruin your transmission. In this blog post, we’ll cover the first two mistakes, then get to the last three reasons in a subsequent article, so watch out for that post coming soon.

A lot of people don’t know what a transmission does, so let’s start there. Basically, the transmission sends power from the engine to the wheels and makes them turn. How much power is adjusted by shifting gears? An automatic vehicle will shift gears for you, while a manual relies on the driver to choose the right gear. As you can see, it has a pretty important job.

Now, just like any machine, transmissions work their best when they are well-cared for. That’s why it’s essential to keep up on regular maintenance and have it checked out immediately if you notice any sign of problems, such as clunking or grinding noises, leaks (transmission fluid is red or pink), or if your car isn’t accelerating correctly. There are many symptoms, so be vigilant.

Even if you’re not too excited about spending the money to have it serviced, just think about how much it will cost to have it fixed if you end up with transmission failure. Our ASE certified mechanics at Key Transmission and Gears will tell you that a new transmission is a very expensive part to replace. So, let’s get to the first two of the 5 most common mistakes that can ruin your transmission.

  1. Not servicing the transmission – An automatic transmission is built to last for a long time, but it is not invincible. Just like anything else, it benefits greatly from periodic tune-ups. Dirt and other contaminants get into the system and build up significantly over time. If they are never cleaned out, your transmission will begin to run sluggishly. Ultimately, this will result in failure. 

The official recommendation is to have your transmission serviced and the fluid either flushed or changed every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. For most people, that equates to about every 2 to 5 years depending on the use of the vehicle. Make a schedule for servicing your transmission and be sure to stick to it! Don’t forget or let the unpleasant idea of spending the money keep you from having this important work done. Remember that transmission failure is a much more expensive undertaking than merely having it serviced every few years.

  1. Not refilling the transmission fluid – For an automatic transmission to function properly, it needs fluid. The fluid provides lubrication, hydraulic fluid pressure, and cools the transmission when it gets too hot. Your transmission may have fluid, but if it has too little the fluid, cannot perform its function well. Most commonly, that means that your transmission will run hot and a high temperature drastically reduces the lifespan of your transmission.

It’s important for our customers to understand how to take care of their transmissions correctly. While we’re experts at transmission repairs and replacements, we know it’s a big expense. And it can often be avoided when you know the 5 most common mistakes that can ruin your transmission. Now that you know the first two come back soon for the final three. And if you suspect a transmission issue, don’t forget to bring your car, truck or SUV to Key Transmission and Gears in Denver for diagnosis and repair!