Maryland Transmission Diagnostic Procedures

Automatic transmission failures occur in many different ways in the Maryland area, from an indicator light on the dash with no noticeable problems, to whining or grinding noises that leave you stranded. Because many transmission problems are easily and inexpensively corrected, a missed diagnosis could cost you thousands of dollars. The shop that you choose should have the equipment and expertise necessary to isolate the small problems from the big ones.


Diagnosis of Simple Transmission Problems in Maryland

Before work is performed, the transmission problem should have an initial diagnosis. For this reason, we provide free initial diagnosis (See Note below).  Because we commonly see the same failures within the same type of transmission, most diagnoses can be done in as little as 20 minutes and usually while you wait.

Diagnosis of Complex Computer Controlled Transmission Problems

The transmissions in almost all vehicles built in the last seventeen years are computer controlled. Electronic data is collected from various sensors on the engine and transmission, and calculations are made to control shift timing and firmness. In the Maryland area, quite often a failed electronic component will create the illusion of an internal transmission problem. This could cause someone to undergo an expensive transmission replacement when the issue is a simple wiring or sensor malfunction.  Scanners do a great job of checking codes and identifying simple electrical transmission problems, however, they are inadequate in solving complex electronic issues, which can take much longer to diagnose. We utilize specialized equipment that allows us to operate the transmission independently of the vehicle's electronic control module, the ‘computer’. We can also monitor specific signals given by the electronic control module to the transmission. This technique eliminates the uncertainty between computer, vehicle wiring, and transmission electronic control issues. This prevents our customers from undergoing unnecessary expense.

Intermittent Transmission Problems

Some transmission problems are intermittent. These issues, usually electronic, may be difficult to diagnose unless the problem occurs while being driven with test equipment attached. Billing a customer for driving their car around for 3 hours can be unpopular, especially if, during that time, the problem doesn’t occur, and consequently cannot be diagnosed. If the customer says the problem may not occur for hours at a time, my master technician, Rich, or I will drive the vehicle to and from home, while monitoring the diagnostic equipment. Since we are going to be driving home anyway, we will not charge for this time. The long trip, which is about 45 minutes each way, raises the probability that the problem will occur during the drive. Note, sometimes you may have a transmission light that comes on after a long drive but goes off after a restart as the codes are not always stored in the computer. In this scenario, try to bring the vehicle in for a diagnostic scan with the light on. Call ahead, and don’t turn off the car when you get to the shop. This allows us to immediately find the cause of the light. So you do not accidentally shut off the car, you may want to take your ignition key off your key ring.

 

Note: You should never have to pay for an initial diagnosis for an automatic transmission problem. The amount of time spent (usually 20-30 minutes) is considered, by many, a cost of doing business in Maryland, like free water at a restaurant. You should be skeptical of shops who intend to charge you for an initial diagnostic. Also, always have the problem documented, along with the cost of repair.

Legal Disclaimer: Some restaurants charge for water.