5 Transmission Problems You Need to Know

How do you know if you have transmission problems?

Here are five ways you can tell if your transmission needs to checked.

Some simple warning signs that the transmission is having problems:

  • Transmission is slow to respond when shifting
  • Grinding, shaking, vibrating
  • Won’t go into gear
  • Slipping between gears
  • Burning smell and transmission overheating

These are symptoms of problems that could cost you a lot of money if you don’t get to a mechanic and have them checked out.

Slow Response or Delay in Shifting

If your car hesitates or does not go into gear, this is a definite sign of trouble in your transmission. If there is a delay when shifting into or out of park, you should make an appointment with your local AAMCO Minnesota transmission repair center. Manual transmissions can have the same lag in response issue, but after shifting into gear the engine will rev to really high RPM’s, but the car won’t move as fast as it sound like it should be going. This could be a clutch problem, or something more serious.

Grinding, Shaking and Other Bad Vibrations

Your car is supposed to run smoothly, without any drama like shaking or jolting, or grinding sounds and vibrating. For manual transmissions, if your car is going into gear with difficulty and making grinding noises, or if it feels like it’s gears are grinding as they engage, it’s a sign that the transmission is in need of some serious attention from a certified AAMCO technician.Image of automatic transmission internals, lots of gears, cogs interlocking.

An automatic transmission is more subtle in its signals, but they are unmistakable. Transitions into gear and between gears will cause some vibration at first; but then, as the problem persists, gear changes become more jarring and cause shaking. You should take your car to an AAMCO shop to be checked and serviced.

Transmission Won’t Go Into Gear

If the car will not shift after engaging the clutch and trying to move the stick, check the transmission fluid level. Also make sure you’re using the right type, or thickness, of fluid. The source of the problem could even be the car’s computer system. If you’ve already inspected the fluid, try resetting the car’s computer by detaching the battery for thirty minutes. After you reattach the battery the system should reset itself. It might take up 30 minutes for the system to reset, so make sure you have plenty of time. If these steps don’t work, then it’s time to take it to AAMCO.

Gears Slipping

If the car slips in and out of gear or pops into neutral while you’re driving, you’re facing a serious safety issue. The transmission should stay in gear until a shift is performed (manually or automatically). When you step on the gas, you need – expect – power to be delivered to the wheels, especially while you’re in motion and facing potentially dangerous situations. If you are experience gears slipping like this, you need to go AAMCO immediately. Do not ignore this issue and hope it goes away. Call or schedule an appointment online today!Image - woman looking at engine overheated and smoking, hood up.

Burning Smell – Hot Transmission

Any smell of something burning from your car is not a good sign. Transmission fluid keeps the parts lubricated and cool so they don’t wear out prematurely and break down, potentially ruining the entire transmission. If the fluid overheats and breaks down, the transmission will run too hot and give off a burning smell. The extreme heat will result in increased friction and buildup of sludge and potential debris. Take heed, because if it goes on too long, the transmission will be damaged and possibly break down completely. Many times this is due to low fluid levels or incorrect fluid types – two other issues which should be self-evident if you are sure to regularly check the transmission fluid as recommended by your owner’s manual.

AAMCO Minnesota Transmission Repair Can Help

image of smiling AAMCO mechanic, symbol of trust, quality.At AAMCO Minnesota we take great care to keep you informed about your car and all its systems, as well as keep your car on the road with scheduled maintenance services and repairs, including full transmission repairs and rebuilds. Here are five common transmission problems you should be aware of. If you experience any of these issues, schedule an appointment with your local AAMCO Minnesota Transmission Repair and Total Car Care center. Come to AAMCO Minnesota for a Transmission Multi Point Vehicle Courtesy Check for your transmission and related systems. We’ll diagnose any issues with your transmission and fix it quickly and correctly to get you back on the road. We can handle all your scheduled car maintenance and repairs, from oil changes to factory recommended maintenance.

See our specials, grab a coupon, and give us a call.

image of transmission in 800 Pieces in midair cool special effects of all the pieces of an engine.Related: Watch this video and learn why there is only one place to go – AAMCO.
We’re the transmission experts with over 50 years of experience rebuilding and replacing transmissions, and all their 800 pieces. We’ve fixed over 40 million transmissions – way more than our competitors. And we offer a lifetime warranty. Because we have the skill to fix an 800-piece transmission, we can easily fix the rest of your car – brakes, shocks, mufflers, even your engine. Lots of things can make your engine light come on. Today it can be hard to tell what’s wrong with your car, especially if it’s your transmission. Our technicians are trained to keep up with the complex engineering of today’s cars. So, next time something goes wrong with your transmission or any other part of your car, bring it to your local AAMCO.

Other Articles About Car Maintenance & Repair

Checklist for Preparing Your Car for Winter

As winter descends it’s not too late to think about preparing your car if you haven’t already. At AAMCO Minnesota we know the importance of thinking and planning ahead for winter. There are many things you should consider before the first big freeze or snowfall, and we’ve compiled an easy checklist. Come to AAMCO Minnesota for a Courtesy Vehicle Check to make sure your car is in good shape for the coming cold. Read more…

Take the Fear Out of Transmission Repair

Get to know some transmission basics. If you’re like many drivers, you know some basics about your car’s transmission. Maybe you’ve done some research online for some information on how they work, or what that noise is your car is making. You know that a transmission works with the engine to make the tires rotate (and the car go). You know it’s the system that shifts the car’s gears. You probably even know that a transmission has fluid that needs to be checked and changed regularly. You definitely understand that a transmission is a complex system in their car that costs a lot of money to fix. Read more…

When to Get a Transmission Fluid Flush

Preventative maintenance can prevent costly repairs. It’s a lot cheaper to do some regular maintenance to keep your car running smoothly. Part of your maintenance schedule should include a transmission fluid check and, if needed, a fluid flush. Here’s a handy infographic that tells you what you need to know. Read more…

Beware of Flood-Damaged Cars

What’s a Flood-Damaged Car?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if a car has been in a flood or hurricane.

With all the storms and floods, water-damaged cars will be flooding the used car market.

Resale of water-damaged cars passed off as OK used cars is on the rise.

Learn the warning signs and hazards of buying a flood-damaged car.

image of car submerged in flood water on town street.When you’re shopping for a used car, how do you avoid the ones that have been in floods or hurricanes? Water wrecks cars in many ways. Most vehicles involved in water disasters are declared a total loss by insurance companies. Water-damaged cars are difficult and expensive to repair – some damages can’t be repaired at all. Water damage severely limits a car’s reliability and lifespan, but it’s easy to hide the damage from most people, because who’s really thinking about water damage when they’re looking at a car?

There are expected to be almost a million vehicles damaged as a result of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. Many of these cars are being resold, either legitimately or not. If you’re in the market for a used car, you need to know what to look for and avoid being suckered into buying a nice looking car that will cost you thousands in repairs because it was under water at some point in the past.

A car damaged by water can cost you more money in the long run.

There are things you can do and look for in your own inspection of the vehicle.

Check the vehicle identification number (VIN).

Even if the paperwork says the car is legit and its history is clean, it might be forged. For a fee you can check the vehicle identification number (VIN) with a service like CarFax. It’s easy and just might save you a lot of trouble and money. The car’s VIN is usually located on an aluminum plate bolted on the dash, or on the inside of the door, secured to the frame of the car. If you can’t find the VIN anywhere, and the seller doesn’t have or know it, it’s a sure sign you should look elsewhere for the used car of your dreams.

A  VIN check report will indicate the car has been suffered damage with terms like “flood”, “salvage”, “rebuilt”, or “loss.” Keep in mind that if the seller or previous owner didn’t have the car insured in the first place – especially at the time the damage was done – then any damage might not have been reported, which means it is not in any records database and the car will appear “clean.” That’s why the next few things you can do are important.

Have a professional mechanic inspect the car.

Sure, the car looks great, the price is right, and the seller is motivated. You want to buy! First things first. Tell the seller you’re going to have the car inspected by a mechanic. If he shows any resistance, protests, or wants his mechanic to look at it, walk away. It’s your money and the seller is probably hiding something about the car.

RelatedAAMCO Used Car Pre-Purchase Inspection

Test drive the car thoroughly.

Take the car for a test drive. Don’t be afraid to not only drive it like you would drive it, but push it a little and test it in as many conditions as you can – city, highway, hills, curves, fast, slow, idling. Listen for strange sounds and be aware of vibrations, steering problems, shaking, squealing, grinding, or any other odd noises and behavior that a solid, well-maintained car should not have. Run the car’s AC and heat full blast. Test everything, especially electrical – radio included. Don’t blow the speakers, but be aware that they sometimes short out, so they can be an indicator of something wrong in the electrical system. One or two odd things might be OK (it’s a used car, after all); but when there are a number of other issues, it could mean water damage. Heck, even if not water damaged, a car with lots of issues should be avoided (unless you’re looking for a fixer upper).

How else can you tell if the car you want is water damaged?

image of graphical rendering car waterEducate yourself. If you’re looking to buy a used car anytime soon, be aware that there will probably be many more flood-damaged cars on the market in the coming months, or even years. There will always be storms, and there are things you can watch for when looking at used cars, especially if you are in or the car is from a storm-ravaged region. Water is a force of nature. It can damage or destroy anything. A water-damaged car exhibits trouble in its main systems, as well as in certain cosmetic areas.

What’s that smell?

Flooded cars oftentimes smell musty or moldy.

Water or liquid stains on the upholstery can happen even without a flood, but it’s difficult to dry the entire interior of a car after it’s been blitzed by water. You might have to get close to the carpet or the seats, but if you sniff deeply and get a hint of mildew or some other scent that reminds you of not-so-fresh water, the car has probably been through a few feet of the wet stuff (and who knows how clean that water was to begin with!). There is no air freshener on the planet that will get rid of those smells. Conversely, if the car smells like it was doused in air freshener, there is a good chance the seller is trying to cover up an odor – and probably much more.

Mold and mildew are difficult to detect and remove, especially in a car. If you somehow end up with a car that’s got a mold problem, you’ll most likely end up just having to live with it. It’s an unpleasant odor that might come and go, be less or worse depending on the weather and temperature. Short of tearing out the interior carpeting, seats, upholstery, and heading, you might be stuck with this car for a long time.

Why does the car have rust, yet it’s so new looking?

Rust and corrosion indicate possible deeper issues.

Take the time to get a good look under the car and under the hood. Look closely at things like battery connections, gas caps, inside door frames, and in wheel wells. Dirt, mud, or excess crud in odd places should be red flags. In extreme cases, you might even notice a water stain or line along the doors and panels, inside or out.

The car’s electrical system can tell you a lot, so test it.

Electrical problems are common, and oftentimes difficult to diagnose and fix.

The electrical system is one of the most costly systems to be affected by water. Check the headlights, turn signals, brake lights, reverse and license plate lights – and don’t forget the interior lights like the overhead, glove box, trunk, hood. If any dashboard lights or instruments are not working, there might be a larger electrical issue. If the car has power windows and locks, check every single one on the driver side main console and the individual door controls.

Related: AAMCO Electrical System Service

The car’s performance will show signs of trouble – but when?

Engine, transmission, exhaust, electrical – these systems and more should be checked.

Engine problems will definitely occur in water-damaged cars. Unfortunately, performance issues might not be discovered until you’ve had the car for a little while, but the potential can be detected if a thorough inspection is done prior to purchase. An engine that was once waterlogged will show its true colors eventually. Hard starting, chugging and stalling, shaking and strange noises that no engine should make – it will all come out in the wash. Water in oil lines and gas tanks is difficult and costly to fix, and most likely will cause problems for years to come. There are things that you might not discover until you’ve purchased the car, but a thorough inspection and doing your own due diligence will reduce your risk of buying a soggy lemon.

AAMCO Minnesota Can Help

image of happy female driver leaning out window showing thumbs up.It’s important to pay special attention to anything unusual or that you would not expect as you go through these steps. Take notes and schedule a pre-purchase inspection with your local AAMCO Minnesota certified mechanics to thoroughly check the car you’re interested in buying. If you’ve already bought the car and you need help diagnosing a problem, or need repairs, schedule an appointment online or call your local Minnesota AAMCO.

If you have questions about your car’s road readiness, or about car repair and maintenance topics, AAMCO Minnesota can help. Call, drop by, or book an appointment online with your friendly local Minnesota AAMCO mechanics. We’ve got service centers in Minneapolis, West St. Paul, Fridley, Hopkins, and Maplewood.

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Reasons Your Car Won’t Start

There are many reasons your car won’t start. There are few things worse than the feeling you get when you put your key in the ignition of your car, turn it, and… nothing. Silence. Probably more aggravating is when your car does make sounds like it’s going… [Read more]

5 Common But Severe Transmission Problems

Automatic Transmission Not Shifting Smoothly? Transmission Trouble Signs and What to Look For – From gears not changing smoothly to the transmission not shifting at all, there are a lot of signs that transmission repairs are in your future. Transmission repairs and… [Read more]

Transmission Problems Caused by Battery Corrosion

There are a ton of problems that can lead to a vehicle requiring a transmission repair service. When you start to notice problems with the car’s transmission, the battery may be the issue. If the car battery is not clean, causing bigger issues, there can be any easy… [Read more]

 

 

Battery Care and Troubleshooting

Some tips for taking care of your battery.

Image of a mechanic using a multi-meter to check the voltage of a car battery.Fall is upon us and it’s time to think about winter preparations. Among the many things on our lists, making sure our cars are in tip-top shape to handle the tough Minnesota winter is a big item with many little things to be done. Among those little things is something not so little if it fails – the battery. Because the battery powers all the lights and accessories in your car, you need to make sure it’s ready for the long, hard job of powering through winter. Here is a quick breakdown of tips for you to make sure your battery is good condition as we roll into cold weather.

Related: Minnesota’s Best Car Battery Service

Signs your car battery is about to die.

Car batteries usually last two to five years, depending on quality, operating conditions, and condition of the vehicle.

There are a few simple warning signs that will tell you it’s time for a new battery.
Long crank times in any kind of weather.

If your car takes longer to start than usual, especially if the battery has not been replaced in more than three years, this is a sign that the battery is wearing out. If the engine has to crank excessively in order to start, the battery should be checked. Keep in mind that cold weather affects the battery and its ability to perform, so it’s fairly normal for your car to start with difficulty in the wintertime. Everything slows down in the cold, including electric current. It is also hard to vaporize gasoline, and oil thickens up when it’s cold. Batteries put out only half their normal power when the temperature is freezing – so be patient, but be aware. If your car “cold cranks” in warmer weather, it’s a good time to change the battery.

Engine cranks, but won’t start.

The engine cranks, but won’t turn over. This a pretty solid sign that the battery is dying or already dead. You could get a jump start, but you’ll just need another one when you turn off the car. Driving around town, going from jump to jump might be a unique way to meet people, but let’s face it – it’s no way to spend a weekend. Get a jump and get a new battery.

image of jumper cables attached to car battery terminals.Too many jump starts will kill a battery.

Jump starting a battery too much will kill it. It’s hard on a battery when you basically shock back into action. If you have to jump start your car more than three times in a week, it’s time to replace the battery. One thing you can try that will get you through the interim is get the jump, then let the engine run for 30 minutes so the alternator can recharge the battery. Once this is done, shut off the car, wait two or three minutes, then try to start the car again. If it starts, turn it off, wait another couple minutes, then start it again. If it consistently starts, you probably won’t be stranded wherever you go next – but that doesn’t mean your battery is good to go. Your next stop really should be to get a new battery.

Engine won’t crank, won’t start, and there are no lights.

This is a pretty sure sign the battery is dead. Again, you could get a jump, but the battery has left the building – or the engine compartment, as it were. Something to consider in this situation is there might be a combined issue with the alternator, because that’s the part that keeps the battery charged. If the engine won’t crank, but you do have lights and other functions, then there could be other problems in the car’s electrical system or other areas of the engine. Some issues might be a bad ignition switch, a failed starter or solenoid (which usually causes a check engine light), or a poor electrical connection somewhere in the ignition system. Electrical problems should be properly diagnosed and fixed by a mechanic.

Your car starts fine one day, then does not start at all the next day.

There two battery-related issues that might cause your car to start intermittently or unreliably.

Battery terminals are loose, broken, or corroded.

A visual check usually will reveal if there is any corrosion or other problems with the battery terminals. You should check for tightness of cables, as well. If there is corrosion or the terminals are damaged, the battery will not perform at its best.

Parasitic draw on the battery is slowly draining its power.

Sometimes there is a condition somewhere in the electrical system called a “parasitic draw” that drains the battery of its power slowly, usually overnight. A certified mechanic can help diagnose, find, and fix this problem. If you decide to do it yourself, you’ll need a multimeter with amp capabilities up to 20 amps (A) and down to 200 milliamps (mA), and a fuse checker.

Simple battery maintenance will save you a lot of trouble.

  • Visual inspection to check for corrosion around the battery terminals. Look for a white powdery chalk-like substance. Corrosion affects electrical conduction. Clean the terminal with a wire brush. Never ever put baking soda on a battery to clean it. Coat it with grease before reconnecting the battery. The grease prevents further corrosion and improves electrical conduction.
  • Check the battery cables, as they are usually a prime cause of battery issues and are easy to check.
  • Make sure the cables are attached securely to the terminals and are not frayed, damaged, or falling apart. They should not wiggle or move around if they are properly tightened.
  • On older batteries with access to the cells, you can add distilled water to help the battery keep a charge.
  • Keeping a clean engine compartment in general prevents a lot of dirt and crud from covering the battery and collecting around the battery terminals, and possibly compromising its performance. It also makes overall engine maintenance and troubleshooting easier and less messy – and mechanic’s job a little easier if you have to bring your car in for a diagnosis.

SAFETY NOTES: Proceed with caution when performing maintenance on a battery. The sulfuric acid in batteries is highly corrosive and can burn your skin and eat holes in your clothes. There is even a slight danger of explosion. Always work in a well-ventilated area. Wear gloves and eye protection. Never lean over the battery when charging or testing it, or when jump-starting the engine. Keep a solution of water and baking soda handy in case battery acid gets on your clothes or skin. This mixture can neutralize the acid.

Related: Tips for Affordable Car Maintenance

image with text - Car Battery DiagnosticsAAMCO Minnesota Can Diagnose & Fix Battery Problems  

AAMCO Minnesota locations in Minneapolis, West St. Paul, Fridley, Hopkins, and Maplewood provide expert battery services that include diagnostics and testing. Based on the diagnosis, your Minnesota AAMCO mechanic will recommend the battery service that’s right for you, replacing only the components that are needed. If your car won’t start and you want help figuring out what’s wrong and having it fixed right, it’s time to call a mechanic and have it inspected and repaired. If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned in this article, or suspect that there could be issues with your electrical system, engine or other systems that are causing your car to not start, stall, or perform poorly, schedule an appointment with a professional mechanic to diagnose the problem and recommend next steps for repair.

Visit Your Local Minnesota AAMCO Auto Repair & Transmission Center

If you have any questions, feel free to call and talk with one of our courteous technicians. Or, book an appointment online to reserve your time, date, and location.

 

   

Signs Your Suspension Needs Repair

Is It Time for a New Suspension or Just Repairs?

image - drawing diagram of automobile suspension suspension, all four wheels.It’s usually easy to tell if your car’s suspension is having issues, but it can be difficult to diagnose the actual cause of the problems. Bad or worn shocks, struts, springs, tie rods or ball joints can cause costly damage to your vehicle and make it unsafe to drive.

Unfortunately, the suspension is often taken for granted – but it supports the entire weight of your vehicle. Suspensions are more than just about a smooth ride. A worn out suspension affects your ability to control the car, especially when stopping or turning, and can affect performance at different speeds. Pay attention to how your car handles, sounds it makes, and have problems checked immediately as they come up.

We get it – wear and tear happens, it comes with every part of every car. Regular wear and tear also comes with the need for a regular inspection and maintenance plan. Suspension maintenance and repairs are just as important as any other maintenance items, like oil changes or brakes. If you ignore problems with your car and allow them to fester, you will end up with more and more repairs that cost more and more money to fix.

Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Suspension

There are many things to look for to determine if your suspension system is failing in some way or needs repair. Since the suspension affects so many other systems that influence the control you have over your vehicle, it’s important to be aware of symptoms to determine if individual parts or the system at large is failing.

Car Ride is Not Smooth

There are many reasons your car might not drive smoothly. Aside from the tires, the suspension is usually one of the first suspects when your ride becomes bumpy or rough. When you can feel every bump in the road and it makes your car bounce, it’s time to get your suspension looked at. You can test the suspension yourself by doing the “bounce test.” While the car is parked, put all your weight on the front end and then release. If the car bounces up and down like a kid at a techno concert, the shocks and struts need to be replaced.

Worn out shocks can mean big problems if you don’t get them replaced.

Shock absorbers keep your tires on the road. If they don’t, the car will bounce all over the road and become uncontrollable. Shock absorbers serve to “absorb” the bumps and bounces. When they wear out, you definitely feel it in the performance and controllability of your car. If they fail entirely, your car could be severely damaged.

Car is Difficult to Steer

If your car becomes hard to steer, especially at low speed, something might be wrong with the suspension. Because your steering is linked to the suspension and the two rely on each other to get their respective jobs done, it’s important to pay attention to the steering – it’s the way you control your car.

If something is affecting your control of the car, it could be the suspension or it could be something in the steering system itself.

image of woman driving, having trouble controlling car, passenger in panic, shouting stop.Low power steering fluid, worn or loose belts, worn out control arm bushings could all be part of the problem. Squealing or whining when you turn the wheels of your car is usually a sign that the power steering pump is failing. As you can see, when steering becomes difficult, it’s time to steer your car to a mechanic.

Car Drifts or Pulls to One Side

If your car drifts or pulls to one side as you drive down a straight road, it could be due to any one of a number of reasons – tires, brakes, steering or suspension. It’s a difficult problem to diagnose, but there are things you can do yourself to possibly eliminate the causes and save yourself a trip to the mechanic.

The first thing you can do is check your tires.

Check the tire pressure. An underinflated tire can cause the entire car to ride strangely, including pulling it to one side. If you find yourself constantly fighting your steering wheel, check the tire pressure. Additionally, you’ll experience uneven tire wear all around and decreased gas mileage. If the tires haven’t been rotated regularly, get them rotated. This can be a cost effective solution to an annoying issue.

Have the alignment checked.

If you do a lot of driving on rough roads, or have hit more than one pothole or curb, and you notice some weirdness in the steering, there’s a good chance you need an alignment. A poor alignment will cause uneven tire wear, which then becomes another potential cause of the car drifting or pulling.

If the suspension is damaged, get it fixed to avoid bigger issues.

If your car drifts or pulls, a tie rod, spring, or control arm could be broken. This will cause severe difficulty in steering and affect your ability to control the car beyond just casual drift or pull. Go to a mechanic and have it fixed immediately.

Car Sits Low or Nose Dives

If one corner of the car seems to sit low when it’s parked, this is a sign of a damaged or broken spring.

When driving, you’ll notice a clunking sound when you go over bumps or turn. This is because the damaged or broken spring can’t support the weight of the car. A blown spring will put undue stress on the shock absorber, too, and vice versa. The two work so closely together that if one goes, the other has to compensate. But the spring is primarily responsible for any variations you see in the level sitting of your car.

If your car nose dives, leans back or rolls, the shocks or struts need to be replaced.

Braking transfers the weight of the vehicle to the front, and if the shocks and/or struts are worn out, this will cause the car’s nose to dive or dip down much more than you’re used to. You’ll notice it. Additionally, the car will lean back when you accelerate, as the weight of the car is transferred to the rear. When you take a corner, the car will roll – not roll over, but lean excessively to one side. The car will not be level, but it will lean so one side of the car dips down and the other side rises up, all without the tires leaving the ground.

Related: Reasons Why Your Ride is Bumpy and Rough

image of 3D render of a car suspensionAAMCO Can Help with Your Suspension and Steering Repairs

Because suspension and steering are such important components for the control and safety of your car (and nice, smooth ride) it’s critical to keep them maintained, and get them inspected and repaired if you experience problems. If you start noticing any of the symptoms mentioned in this article, or suspect that there could be some issues with any parts of your suspension or steering, schedule an appointment with a professional mechanic to diagnose the problem and recommend next steps for repair.

Find Your Local Minnesota AAMCO Auto Repair & Transmission Center

If you have any questions, feel free to call and talk with one of our courteous technicians. Or, book an appointment online to reserve your time, date, and location.

 

 
AAMCO Hopkins

10921 Excelsior Blvd #117 | 10921 Excelsior Blvd #117, MN, 55343

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At AAMCO Hopkins, MN we believe in the value of good, honest work and giving you and your family the peace of mind a safe, reliable car provides on a daily basis. From transmission repair and rebuild to brake service, air conditioning repair, auto tune ups, check engine light and car maintenance, AAMCO of Hopkins is your one-stop shop for car repairs and maintenance. Trust the transmission experts at AAMCO of Hopkins transmission repair to diagnose and repair your vehicle right the first time and back it with the best nationwide warranty. At AAMCO Hopkins transmission and car repair we know all vehicle makes and models and have the latest in diagnostic tools and technology. We are your total car care and repair specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

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AAMCO Minneapolis

5231 West Broadway | Minneapolis, MN, 55429

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Transmission repair and rebuilds are our specialty. From transmissions to brakes, radiators, air conditioning repair, tune ups, check engine light diagnosis and car maintenance, people who know call AAMCO Minneapolis Transmission Repair and Auto Services. Our expert technicians use the latest tools and technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle. From automatic and manual transmission repairs, clutch service and replacement, and more, we know all vehicle makes and models. We back our work with the best nationwide warranty. AAMCO of Minneapolis, MN is your one-stop transmission rebuild and total car care center.

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AAMCO West St. Paul

1571 S Robert St | St Paul, MN, 55118

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AAMCO Transmissions West St. Paul is your Twin Cities one-stop shop for transmission repairs, rebuilds, and car maintenance. Our certified technicians can handle any transmission repair or rebuild, as well as auto repair and maintenance service for your vehicle. You can rely on our mechanics for automatic and manual transmission problems and rebuilds, clutch service and replacement, and more. We use modern computer diagnostics to identify transmission and engine issues so we can repair your car quickly and get you back on the road. We work on all makes and models, including 4x4s.

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AAMCO Fridley

940 Osborne Rd NE | Minneapolis, MN, 55432

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At AAMCO Fridley we believe in performing honest and affordable transmission and auto repair services. We do the job right and get you back on the road safely and reliably. From transmission repair and rebuild to brake service, air conditioning repair, tune ups, check engine light and car maintenance, AAMCO Fridley, MN is your one-stop auto mechanic. Trust AAMCO’s expert auto technicians to use the latest tools and technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle, and back it with the best nationwide warranty. At AAMCO of Fridley, Minnesota we know all vehicle makes and models and have the latest in diagnostic tools and technology. We are your total car care specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

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AAMCO Maplewood

1905 County Rd D E | Maplewood, MN, 55109

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People come to AAMCO of Maplewood, MN because we care about making sure you car is running safely and reliably. You can count on us for all your automotive repairs and maintenance. From transmission repairs and rebuilds to brakes, radiators, air conditioning, check engine light and tune ups. AAMCO Maplewood transmission and auto repair technicians use the latest technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle right the first time - and we back it with the best nationwide warranty. At your local Minnesota AAMCO of Maplewood we know all vehicle makes and models - we're your one-stop total car care specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

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How to Tell if Your Brakes Are Bad

Identifying Common Brake Problems

Squeaking, Squealing, Grinding, Shaking

Your brakes need to be fixed.

An auto mechanic working on disc brakes,  inserting new brake pads in the caliper.As many car owners know, when issues with the brake system arise, they present themselves in a multitude of ways. Over your vehicle’s lifespan, you will likely experience a number or different issues specifically related to the brakes. While these repairs may not always seem to be pressing, problems with the brakes can become dangerous very quickly. Don’t worry! We are going to review some of the most commonly reported problems which require repair.

Paying attention to changes in the way your vehicle drives can indicate brake problems with minimal mechanic experience. We are going to outline some of the most common sounds, smells, and sensations which signal trouble. We will also look at some of the most frequently replaced brake system components.

Brake Pads

It is quite common to replace brake pads, and this is one of the simpler solutions to brake problems. Typically, brake pads are replaced approximately every 50,000 miles (though this really depends on your vehicle make, type, and the type of pads you are using – check your manual for recommendations). Worn pads will cause a metal on metal, grinding sound, and you will notice the braking distance increases. When a brake pad overheats, it causes it to crack, and then they will begin to squeak or squeal. If you’re hearing this sound on a regular basis, it is absolutely time to get them replaced!

Rotors

The surface of rotors must be flat in order to keep contact with the brake pads. Over time, a rotor’s surface will begin to warp due to heat damage, which then causes the vehicle to pulsate or jerk when the brakes are applied. If your rotors are overheated the surface will have a blue or purple hue which hardens the surface preventing the pads from gripping the rotors. Some rotors can be resurfaced (where they physically reshape these discs so that they are smooth and flat again), while others require replacing.

image of mechanic working on brake disc and caliperSticking Caliper

The caliper and caliper brackets hold the brake pads and force them against the rotor to stop the vehicle. When caliper pistons become stuck, the car will begin pulling to one side as the brakes are applied. This will also cause your rotors to overheat and wear down much more quickly. Essentially, one of your brakes is engaged regardless of whether you are driving or stopped. This is much more than just an inconvenience, this can be quite dangerous and should be addressed immediately.

Emergency Brake Engagement

It may seem like more of an issue of attention to detail, but this happens more often than you may think! It is easy to forget when you’ve put your emergency brake on, especially since some modern cars use a button instead of a lever. Leaving your emergency brake on will cause performance issues and damage to the entire system. If you suddenly hear a squeaking or grinding sound, be sure to confirm that your emergency brake is not engaged. 

Brake Light

When the brake light on the dashboard is illuminated, it can indicate that there is a serious issue with the braking system. In many cases, this light points to a problem with the hydraulics and should be inspected and repaired right away. This is not an error light which you should ignore. (This light also indicates that your parking brake is engaged!)

Smoking Brakes

Your brakes should not smoke… Ever. If you are experiencing this, it means that the brake pads have been burned, or that something is leaking onto the brakes. This is a dangerous problem which should be addressed immediately. Any indication of burning should be handled with urgency to prevent further damage and major repairs.

Leaks

If the brake system is leaking, it is usually a sign of a hydraulic issue. If you are able to press the brake pedal all the way to the floor, it can often be traced back to a leak. This type of leak is typically a slow leak where the brake fluid is lost gradually, but this eventually causes the brake system to fail altogether. A puddle of fluid on the ground or a low brake pedal are all symptoms of a leak.

AAMCO Minnesota for All Your Brake Services

Your brake system has a big, important job to do, and should not be taken for granted. Always be aware of the last time work was done on your car’s brakes, and make sure you keep them in top stopping condition! Your vehicle’s manual should provide you a recommended maintenance plan. At AAMCO Minnesota, we have seen it all, and we’ll help you make the best decision regarding solutions to the problems you’ve been encountering. Give us a call, or book an appointment online to get your car back in tiptop shape!

 

Find an AAMCO Minnesota Transmission & Auto Repair Center Near You

 
AAMCO Hopkins

10921 Excelsior Blvd #117 | 10921 Excelsior Blvd #117, MN, 55343

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At AAMCO Hopkins, MN we believe in the value of good, honest work and giving you and your family the peace of mind a safe, reliable car provides on a daily basis. From transmission repair and rebuild to brake service, air conditioning repair, auto tune ups, check engine light and car maintenance, AAMCO of Hopkins is your one-stop shop for car repairs and maintenance. Trust the transmission experts at AAMCO of Hopkins transmission repair to diagnose and repair your vehicle right the first time and back it with the best nationwide warranty. At AAMCO Hopkins transmission and car repair we know all vehicle makes and models and have the latest in diagnostic tools and technology. We are your total car care and repair specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

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AAMCO Minneapolis

5231 West Broadway | Minneapolis, MN, 55429

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Transmission repair and rebuilds are our specialty. From transmissions to brakes, radiators, air conditioning repair, tune ups, check engine light diagnosis and car maintenance, people who know call AAMCO Minneapolis Transmission Repair and Auto Services. Our expert technicians use the latest tools and technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle. From automatic and manual transmission repairs, clutch service and replacement, and more, we know all vehicle makes and models. We back our work with the best nationwide warranty. AAMCO of Minneapolis, MN is your one-stop transmission rebuild and total car care center.

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AAMCO West St. Paul

1571 S Robert St | St Paul, MN, 55118

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AAMCO Transmissions West St. Paul is your Twin Cities one-stop shop for transmission repairs, rebuilds, and car maintenance. Our certified technicians can handle any transmission repair or rebuild, as well as auto repair and maintenance service for your vehicle. You can rely on our mechanics for automatic and manual transmission problems and rebuilds, clutch service and replacement, and more. We use modern computer diagnostics to identify transmission and engine issues so we can repair your car quickly and get you back on the road. We work on all makes and models, including 4x4s.

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AAMCO Fridley

940 Osborne Rd NE | Minneapolis, MN, 55432

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At AAMCO Fridley we believe in performing honest and affordable transmission and auto repair services. We do the job right and get you back on the road safely and reliably. From transmission repair and rebuild to brake service, air conditioning repair, tune ups, check engine light and car maintenance, AAMCO Fridley, MN is your one-stop auto mechanic. Trust AAMCO’s expert auto technicians to use the latest tools and technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle, and back it with the best nationwide warranty. At AAMCO of Fridley, Minnesota we know all vehicle makes and models and have the latest in diagnostic tools and technology. We are your total car care specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

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AAMCO Maplewood

1905 County Rd D E | Maplewood, MN, 55109

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People come to AAMCO of Maplewood, MN because we care about making sure you car is running safely and reliably. You can count on us for all your automotive repairs and maintenance. From transmission repairs and rebuilds to brakes, radiators, air conditioning, check engine light and tune ups. AAMCO Maplewood transmission and auto repair technicians use the latest technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle right the first time - and we back it with the best nationwide warranty. At your local Minnesota AAMCO of Maplewood we know all vehicle makes and models - we're your one-stop total car care specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

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Front-Wheel Drive or Rear-Wheel Drive

Know the Differences Between FWD and RWD

image-shifting-gears-person-driving-stick-shift-hand-on-shifterThe differences between front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive are important factors to consider when buying a car. If you’re buying a new car, there are all kinds of options these days, including all-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, traction control, full-time, part-time. The advantages and disadvantages between FWD and RWD are well known, but the most important thing for you to consider is which one is best for you? Beyond that, keep in mind the differences and how they affect your maintenance and repair costs. AAMCO Minnesota has the expertise to service your vehicle from transmission to suspension, brakes, radiator, and exhaust, whether front-wheel, rear-wheel, all-wheel, or four-wheel drive.

Front-wheel drive vehicles have many advantages for consumers and manufacturers.

Performance in the snow is better on FWD vehicles, but…

Front-wheel drive or FWD means the engine power is going directly to the front wheels. This gives the effect of the car being pulled down the road, instead of pushed from the rear. Front-wheel drive cars have developed a reputation for stability and performance in bad weather conditions, particularly snow. It places the weight of the engine over the front drive wheels, which improves traction and responsiveness.

All of this is great, but from a dry-road, performance driving perspective, FWD cars are considered not as good as RWD. Front-wheel drive cars tend to “over steer”, or push wide, when turns are taken too fast. This is because most of the mechanical weight – steering, suspension, engine, etc. – is in front.

FWD means extra interior space.

The front-wheel drive approach also opens the inside of the vehicle, requiring less space along the floor for the transaxle to pass through. Most FWD cars use transversely  mounted engines (mounted crossways), do the transmission doesn’t intrude into the passenger cabin from underneath the vehicle. The need for a big drive-shaft tunnel to transfer power to the rear wheels is eliminated. More interior space offers more opportunities for automakers to develop innovative uses of the passenger cabin, including safety features.

Manufacturing and maintenance costs for FWD are less.

Because all the major functional parts of the car are concentrated around the front of the vehicle, FWD cars have the added advantage of being less complex, easier to service, and cheaper to maintain. For example, the transmission and axle assembly are one unit in a FWD car. The reduced size, weight, and complexity of FWD vehicles also reduces manufacturing time and costs, savings which can be passed onto the buyer. Front-wheel drive cars usually have lower general maintenance costs and are more fuel efficient.

Front-wheel drive is not as rugged and repairs can cost more.

FWD systems overall involve more complex parts that make them more delicate, as automotive durability goes. Half-shafts and constant velocity (CV) joints are more prone to damage than the more durable solid axle of a RWD vehicle. While a RWD car’s axle might need little service or repair beyond the scheduled checkup and lube, a FWD car will need new CV joints and associated parts on a regular basis (depending on your driving habits). The front brakes might require more frequent servicing, as well, due to the distribution of weight during braking.

Rear-Wheel drive isn’t bad, and it makes sense if you have specific requirements.

Pushing a car through the snow is just more difficult.

Having a rear-wheel drive vehicle means the engine power is on the rear wheels. Trucks and many SUV’s, as well as some cars, use rear-wheel-drive. This means that a driveshaft transmits power from the engine in the front of the vehicle to the wheels at the back which drive, or push, the vehicle. A differential must be used to transfer the power from the driveshaft to the wheels. The differential makes a 90-degree turn so it can get to the wheels. This complexity of two-wheel drive vehicles does not make them any less effective than FWD vehicles – it actually allows for advantages depending on the purpose of the vehicle.

Winter weather can be an issue for RWD vehicles, particularly snow.

image - traffic in winter - slippery, snow-packed road, cars moving slowlyHaving a vehicle with RWD is not the best for winter conditions, as the weight distribution tends to leave them light in the rear, which affects traction. Many modern cars, however, feature stability or traction control that helps overcome slipping and provides added security against loss of traction. Oftentimes you will see pickup trucks with sandbags piled in the cargo beds. This is to add weight over the drive tires to increase traction in winter conditions.

RWD offers better weight distribution for performance and utility needs.

Despite the fact that RWD vehicles are notoriously difficult in inclement weather, particularly in snow or mud, they are usually well-balanced and offer superior acceleration, braking and handling. While a front-wheel drive car has the weight of the engine and transaxle over the front wheels, a rear-wheel drive car distributes the weight of its drivetrain more evenly from front-to-rear. This is a plus for performance oriented driving and drivers. High performance sports cars are predominantly rear-wheel drive and have seen considerable evolution in the technology that makes these RWD systems ideal.

From a utility perspective, a RWD vehicle benefits from having the drive wheels directly under the weight or pressure of a tow connection when towing loads. This enhances the vehicles traction and ability to effectively pull heavy loads, and aids in the distribution of the weight of the load being towed.

RWD vehicles are rugged and sometimes cheaper to repair.

RWD vehicles tend to be utilitarian and more durable, built for hard driving, towing, hauling. An advantage of many RWD vehicles is a solid axle design, which can take a lot of abuse without breaking. A simple example is if you hit a curb or a pothole really hard with a front-wheel drive car, you might damage some expensive parts. FWD cars have some complex parts, which are can be more susceptible to damage in extreme conditions. If you accidentally slam into or run over a curb or hole in the road with a solid axle rear-wheel drive car, it will most likely survive and just keep going. This is why police cars and other service or utility oriented vehicles are mostly RWD.

AAMCO Minnesota for All Your Car Repair Needs

Regardless of whether your car is front-wheel or rear-wheel drive, your locally owned and operated Minnesota AAMCO Transmissions and Total Car Care centers can handle all your automotive repair and maintenance needs. See our complete list of services and be sure to get money-saving coupons.

Find Your Locally Owned & Operated AAMCO Minnesota Auto Repair Center

 
AAMCO Hopkins

10921 Excelsior Blvd #117 | 10921 Excelsior Blvd #117, MN, 55343

Details Directions

Call Now Set Appointment

At AAMCO Hopkins, MN we believe in the value of good, honest work and giving you and your family the peace of mind a safe, reliable car provides on a daily basis. From transmission repair and rebuild to brake service, air conditioning repair, auto tune ups, check engine light and car maintenance, AAMCO of Hopkins is your one-stop shop for car repairs and maintenance. Trust the transmission experts at AAMCO of Hopkins transmission repair to diagnose and repair your vehicle right the first time and back it with the best nationwide warranty. At AAMCO Hopkins transmission and car repair we know all vehicle makes and models and have the latest in diagnostic tools and technology. We are your total car care and repair specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

Write a Review

AAMCO Minneapolis

5231 West Broadway | Minneapolis, MN, 55429

Details Directions

Call Now Set Appointment

Transmission repair and rebuilds are our specialty. From transmissions to brakes, radiators, air conditioning repair, tune ups, check engine light diagnosis and car maintenance, people who know call AAMCO Minneapolis Transmission Repair and Auto Services. Our expert technicians use the latest tools and technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle. From automatic and manual transmission repairs, clutch service and replacement, and more, we know all vehicle makes and models. We back our work with the best nationwide warranty. AAMCO of Minneapolis, MN is your one-stop transmission rebuild and total car care center.

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AAMCO West St. Paul

1571 S Robert St | St Paul, MN, 55118

Details Directions

Call Now Set Appointment

AAMCO Transmissions West St. Paul is your Twin Cities one-stop shop for transmission repairs, rebuilds, and car maintenance. Our certified technicians can handle any transmission repair or rebuild, as well as auto repair and maintenance service for your vehicle. You can rely on our mechanics for automatic and manual transmission problems and rebuilds, clutch service and replacement, and more. We use modern computer diagnostics to identify transmission and engine issues so we can repair your car quickly and get you back on the road. We work on all makes and models, including 4x4s.

Write a Review

AAMCO Fridley

940 Osborne Rd NE | Minneapolis, MN, 55432

Details Directions

Call Now Set Appointment

At AAMCO Fridley we believe in performing honest and affordable transmission and auto repair services. We do the job right and get you back on the road safely and reliably. From transmission repair and rebuild to brake service, air conditioning repair, tune ups, check engine light and car maintenance, AAMCO Fridley, MN is your one-stop auto mechanic. Trust AAMCO’s expert auto technicians to use the latest tools and technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle, and back it with the best nationwide warranty. At AAMCO of Fridley, Minnesota we know all vehicle makes and models and have the latest in diagnostic tools and technology. We are your total car care specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

Write a Review

AAMCO Maplewood

1905 County Rd D E | Maplewood, MN, 55109

Details Directions

Call Now Set Appointment

People come to AAMCO of Maplewood, MN because we care about making sure you car is running safely and reliably. You can count on us for all your automotive repairs and maintenance. From transmission repairs and rebuilds to brakes, radiators, air conditioning, check engine light and tune ups. AAMCO Maplewood transmission and auto repair technicians use the latest technology to diagnose and repair your vehicle right the first time - and we back it with the best nationwide warranty. At your local Minnesota AAMCO of Maplewood we know all vehicle makes and models - we're your one-stop total car care specialists.

Convenient payment plans available.

Write a Review

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