The First Transmissions

What to Look For

Transmissions carry the vehicle’s power to the drive axle using gears to help the vehicle run at various speeds. GM’s Hydra-Matic gearbox was the first automatic-style transmission. It was released in 1939 and featured in GM Cadillacs and Oldsmobile models. Preselect transmission was common from the 1930s to the 1950s. The driver would select the gear before stepping on the clutch to shift gears.

Most drivers cannot drive a manual transmission or stick shift resulting in auto shops repairing and replacing transmissions at higher-than-normal rates. Transmission replacement can be expensive. Several variables are involved with the cost of repairing and replacing a transmission. Some of these costs are automatic vs. manual, make and model, type of damage, new vs. old, the type of transmission shop you choose, and the labor cost per shop.

Signs and Actions

Friendly Auto Centers in Mesa, Arizona recommends drivers be aware of an odd odor or fluid that emits a burned smell, a humming sound, the clutch stays engaged while shifting, a thumping or grinding sound when shifting, the transmission pops back into neutral or slips between gears while driving. Higher than normal RPMs in a particular gear are some of the most common signs a transmission needs a certified technician’s inspection.

Friendly Auto Centers recommends a vehicle walkaround before driving and advises drivers to change their transmission fluid per the manufacturer’s instructions. Drivers should also be alert for fluid levels. Transmission fluid should never burn off. If the fluid is registering low, there’s most likely a leak. During a walkaround inspection, you can check for a leak by looking for red liquid on the ground under your vehicle.

Transmission fluid should be replaced at regular intervals. A filter and fluid change every 36,000 miles and again at the 100,000-mile milestone. If your transmission leaks fluid, your vehicle may be in trouble, and a trip to Friendly Auto Centers is advised.

What to Know

One item within the transmission must be replaced, not the entire assembly or group of items. Today’s transmissions don’t need tune-ups, and newer transmissions are controlled by a computer, so calibration is unnecessary. If a tune-up is mentioned, it’s usually referring to a filter or fluid replacement.

Remember, heat is not your friend. Heat can cause problems with your transmission. Carry heavy loads or pull a trailer or boat? You may be at high risk of adding unnecessary heat to your transmission and be in jeopardy of damaging the transmission.

Written by Friendly Auto Centers