Winter's coming to an end. Is your car ready for it?

Getting your car to spring forward

The worst of winter is over and spring is quickly approaching. As a driver, you went through a lot this winter. Hopefully, you didn't get stuck in the snow. Still, with the prospect of any more of the white stuff becoming less likely, it's time to prepare for the coming spring and summer months. Before you do that, however, you should remember that winter can be a harsh season for vehicles of all makes and models. Before the spring starts, it may be time to do some quick maintenance to deal with the effects of those cold months. The professionals at Mr. Transmission and Milex Complete Auto Care would like to offer some general tips to get your car ready for spring.

Clean-up time
When driving during winter, you have to remember that the very materials used to let you drive on the road can and will damage your vehicle. Rock salts and other anti-freezing minerals can be corrosive to your vehicle over time. Even though they eventually slide off during the spring months, not taking the most basic measures to clean your vehicle can cause these deicers to shorten its life, and can cause certain parts to fail.

While the professionals at Mr. Transmission would enjoy your visit, you probably don't want to come in too soon because your transmission isn't functioning the way it should. So what you should do is get your car washed, either by yourself or through a professional car-wash service, when it's clear that there won't be any more snow in the forecast. When you go through that process, be sure to take extra care of the undercarriage. The rock salts tend to hang out there in odd places as a result of being kicked up from the road.

Just as important as the outside of your car is the inside. It's likely going to be dirty after having to deal with months of sand, snow, salt and mud. The end result isn't going to look or smell pleasant once the temperatures consistently go above freezing. So it's always a good idea that when you wash the outside, you take a vacuum and remove all the debris that's accumulated on the car seats, floors and matting. Having your vehicle looking fresh and clean not only extends its life, but makes it feel comfortable.

Two other components that also take a beating in the snow and sand is your paint job and your headlights. The rocks that get kicked up can easily scratch the paint, especially around the bumper and side panels. Meanwhile, the corrosiveness of the salts will damage the coating on the headlights pretty quickly, which results in them yellowing and losing their brightness quickly. While Mr. Transmission and Milex don't offer fixes in this situation, sister brand Alta Mere: The Automotive Outfitters can solve both these problems for you. Its paint protection provides a coating that protects against the grit that hits the vehicle. Meanwhile, its headlight restoration service sands off the dirt that forms in the headlight and applies a new coating.

Keeping up with the routines
Obviously, you'll want to perform some routine check-ups during the process of performing post-winter care. If you skipped out on regularly scheduled maintenance because the snow on the ground was too much, now is a good time to make an appointment at your local Milex or Mr. Transmission. It's better to have your maintenance delayed than to not do it at all. Even routine measures such as transmission checks and oil changes should happen if they were skipped in the early part of the year.

Meanwhile, ahead of any visits, review how your car's holding up in the aftermath of the cold season. Checking the air pressure of the tires is always a good idea, since the temperatures can alter them. More importantly, looking at the car fluids is an essential. By running your vehicle through winter, the engine and transmission often have to work harder than they would during other months of the year. As a result, transmission and braking fluids as well as motor oil can degrade. Check to make sure they're at they're proper levels, especially if you plan on taking an extended road trip in the coming months.

Another part that gets hit hard during the winter is the brakes. They're even more exposed to the snow and salts than the rest of the undercarriages. When driving, pay attention to any noises you may hear, such as grinding or squeaking. It may be a sign that your brakes needs to be checked. With proper vigilance, you can keep your car running strong after winter.

For more auto care tips, visit the Mr. Transmission website!

With winter underway, it's best to winterize your vehicle.

How to prepare your vehicle for winter

Winter is already upon us. With it come challenging driving conditions, severe weather and below freezing temperatures. It's a good idea to prepare your vehicle for the season ahead before it gets too cold. Many parts in your car act differently during the cold months. You want to make sure that your car doesn't break down or become hard to control. because you didn't get it ready for the chill. Winterizing your vehicle is an important part of maintaining it, and the professionals at Milex Complete Auto Care and Mr. Transmission would like to offer some tips for doing so.

Dealing with fluids and hoses
The one general component in your car or truck that is most directly affected by the winter months are the fluids. That includes your coolant, antifreeze, oil, transmission fluid and others. In some cases, these fluids will freeze or thicken, affecting the vehicle's ability to operate in the worst conditions. The end result is that some of these liquids could easily freeze in the wrong circumstance, causing the engine to seize up and stop running. You don't want that to happen while you're driving.

One of the things you'll want to do is change the oil. Regular motor oil is likely too thick for you to use, so you want to change it to something with a thinner viscosity. The lower the SAE grade, the thinner the viscosity. You may also want to look at oil that is marked with a "W" grade. These have been tested to work at colder temperatures.

Along with motor oil, you also want to make sure your vehicle's antifreeze is working and at the right levels, as well as adjust the coolant to water ratio to better handle the cold temperatures. Both of these are essential to keeping the engine running, and they can easily lose function if not taken care of. While this is all happening, check your belts and hoses, and replace them if they look worn out. The colder months can wear on these components particularly hard, causing them to snap or break. Finally, change both the windshield wipers and washer fluid. The rock salt used to de-ice the roads can do a number on your windshield and reduce visibility. Make sure that the fluid is able to manage the coldest temperatures, since it has the ability to freeze up. Replacing all these fluids can be done through a professional at a Milex or Mr. Transmission.

Keeping your vehicle on the road
Of course, there are also things you can do while on the road. If your vehicle has four-wheel drive, you likely didn't use it during warmer months. It's a good idea to run it normally before the snow hits to make sure it's functioning. With 4WD, you'll have better tire traction on the road and more power going into the wheels, which can minimize the chance of you getting stuck in the snow or sliding on the ice.

In the event that it gets so cold that the doors freeze shut, a good solution is to use warm water, pouring it on the handles and gaps between the doors. If you don't have access to that, some backup glycerine on hand can also do the trick.

More importantly, you should keep your fuel tank close to full at all times. In colder temperatures, water condensation can form in a tank that's less than half full. The water will likely drip down into the fuel lines and freeze there, blocking all gasoline from reaching the engine and stopping your car outright. The repairs needed to fix this problem can be costly. Through proper winterization, you can be sure that your vehicle will get through the winter months safely and easily.

For more auto care tips, visit the Mr. Transmission website!

Basic preventative maintenance tips for your fluids and filters

You want your car to last as long as possible. You made a major investment in it and you don't want it to go to waste. That's why you want to perform preventative maintenance on your vehicle from time to time. Some of the most basic areas in preventative care include in the fluids and filters, which you can easily inspect. If something's amiss, it may be a sign of a larger problem. That's when you can bring it in to the professionals at Mr. Transmission and Milex Complete Auto Care, who can look at the problem area and fix it. Here are some places to check the fluids and filters for issues.

In terms of fluids, there are many places you can look to see if there are problems. For example, the engine oil should be checked for its levels to ensure that you don't run out before the time of scheduled maintenance. Transmission fluid levels should also be examined, as well as if the liquid looks clearly red as opposed to brown. If either fluid is low, you should go see a professional at Mr. Transmission and Milex. Coolant and brake fluid levels should also be checked as well, but with less frequency than other fluids.

There are also filters to look at. These components keep dirt and other particles from entering your vehicle and causing damage. The oil filter is particularly important, since any debris can damage the internals of the engine. However, it should be examined and cleaned with frequency, because if it gets clogged, it can force open the oil bypass valve, which allows contaminants to enter the engine. Similarly, the air filer is used to prevent air pollution, pollen and other particles from entering the vehicle cabin and engine. Examining these with some frequency is helpful, as they can become dirty very quickly depending on the conditions of the roads you drive on.

To learn more about preventative maintenance, visit the Mr. Transmission website!

The clutch is a very complex assembly of parts where one component can cause the whole thing to cease functioning.

Understanding why and when the clutch fails

For many people who drive a manual transmission vehicle, the clutch becomes an important part of regular maintenance. This is because the part's function is to regulate the power going from the engine through the transmission to the wheels of the car or truck.  If it fails, there is a very good chance the car will break down almost immediately. That will require a visit to the auto repair shop sooner rather than later. The skilled automotive repair specialists at Mr. Transmission want you to understand the reasons why your clutch can fail and what to look for to get help right away.

A series of moving parts
What the clutch does to shift gears is let the engine spin while allowing the gear selector to move from one position to the next. If the transmission gears are spinning while being switched, they won't latch onto the collar that actually delivers power to the driveshaft and then your wheels because they're going too fast. The way a clutch works is by using friction between the engine's flywheel and a clutch plate or disc that is attached to a rod connected to the transmission. This disc is held against the flywheel using a pressure plate and diaphragm spring when the clutch is engaged, and the car is able to function. When disengaged, a release fork makes a set of bearings call the throw-out bearing push down on the spring, releasing the plate and disc together. The fork is either moved directly through the clutch pedal in a mechanical setup, or using pressurized brake fluid in a hydraulic system.

It's these series of parts that form the basis of the clutch, and any one of them failing could easily undermine the whole component. The friction is an extremely important aspect of running a clutch. Often, what happens is that the friction between the clutch and the engine flywheel begins to wear down, causing something called slippage. Basically, the clutch won't move at the same speed as the flywheel because it's not catching evenly. Eventually, the wear and tear will be so much that the clutch plate doesn't move at all, making the rest of the vehicle immobile.

A single failure
Along with slippage, other problems have been known to occur in the transmission of a car. For example, the throw-out bearing can wear out, causing a chirping or grinding noise to occur every time the clutch is engaged or disengaged. While a car can survive on this for a while, it can then cause the release fork to become bent while trying to engage, which then eventually breaks the pressure plate, causing the entire component to cease functioning.

The bent release fork can lead to another problem: failure in gear shifting. Here, even if the gears work properly, the driveshaft collar won't catch onto them, making it difficult to increase or decrease speed or even just to switch out of neutral. This problem can be fixed by a professional at Mr. Transmission through changing the mechanical linkages. A similar problem occurs in a hydraulic clutch due to brake fluid leakage from the master cylinder, which requires that component to be replaced.

A unique problem associated with hydraulic clutches is a complete loss of brake fluid in the master cylinder or an utter failure. What this triggers in a late-model manual transmission is the clutch pedal getting stuck to the floor and not rising when it's released to engage the clutch. This makes your car unable to drive at all. In this situation, replacing the master cylinder is the only solution.

For more information on clutch repair, visit the Mr. Transmission website!

Maintaining your vehicle fleet is an important of running a business.

5 tips on how to manage your vehicle fleet

As a business owner, you may have a large fleet of vehicles as part of your assets. Overseeing them is important, since they are significant investments and play specific roles for your company. Managing them can take a great effort: You have to concern yourself maintenance, compliance, fuel usage and driver activity among other important aspects. Keeping your fleet in good shape is important to save money and to make these automobiles last. Mr. Transmission makes the process of transmission repair for your fleet easy and affordable. Here are some tips to ensure your vehicles keep running for years to come.

  1. Perform routine preventative maintenance
    When starting up a fleet management program, it's important to ensure that your vehicles are able to stay in top shape. Usually, the best method of keeping vehicles running is preventative measures. That includes regular oil changes, vehicle inspections and having vehicles looked at the first sign of trouble. Even having the tires' air pressure can prevent repairs that cost money. Mr. Transmission offers a wide variety of vehicle repairs, including the transmission, and can perform routine procedures and basic service for your vehicle fleet.
  2. Keep cars compliant
    Vehicle compliance laws change every few years. This is especially the case for businesses that run fleets of vehicles. These laws can vary from state to state, but certain rules on weight, fuel economy and vehicular emissions may stand out. If you have large trucks or vans among your fleet, there are even more rules and regulations that you will need to follow. Keeping an eye out for new legislation regarding vehicles is important to ensure proper fleet management. That way, you can pass inspections and keep your cars, trucks and vans on the road.
  3. Stay green
    In today's economy, there is more to being green than protecting the environment. By reducing your carbon footprint, you may be able to cut costs significantly, especially in some states with stricter environmental protection laws. That means changing engines, replacing filters and performing other actions that will make your cars more fuel efficient and longer lasting than before. Cutting down on emissions now may also prevent costly inspections in the future in case the law changes. For some businesses, running a fleet that is environmentally friendly can boost their marketing appeal to many.
  4. Use GPS tracking
    A GPS-based vehicle system may help drivers get where they're going, but to businesses, it can be a great source of cost savings on fuel and insurance. By using this system, you can map out exactly the way you need your vehicles need to go, which cuts down the amount of gas used on a given trip over time. You can also figure out which vehicles work best in a given situation. That can make a big difference in overall operating costs for your business. You can also monitor driver habits, isolating problem behaviors that may cause accidents and addressing them. You can save lives and money from insurance and repairs over time.
  5. Keep them clean
    You may not think much of how your vehicles look over time. But there are certain advantages to keeping your vehicles looking good other than customer appeal from a distance. When the seasons change, your car may still be filled with debris from the previous season, which may cause long-term damage when you least expect it. So it's always a good idea to wash your cars and trucks with frequency, especially when the seasons change. Re-detailing every so often can also bolster appeal.

For more information on vehicle fleet maintenance, visit the Mr. Transmission website!

Commercial vehicles often have different forms of transmission than cars and trucks do.

What’s so special about truck transmissions?

You may think that all transmissions are alike in cars and trucks, but that's wrong. Beyond the use of automatic and manual transmissions, cars and light trucks often have a different set of transmissions than what you find in motor homes, delivery vans and other commercial vehicles. With different sizes and a wide array of gears, most trucks are a little more complex to handle than the average vehicle. So it may seem like you need to go some place different to get your transmission repaired. However, the professionals at Mr. Transmission want you to know that your vehicles are welcome here.

The main difference between transmissions in commercial vehicles and passenger vehicles is size. While some motor homes may have lesser gears, the size is still pretty larger. Many trucks and motor homes, however, use a larger number of gears than cars and light trucks usually possess. Sometimes, they'll have up to nine gears to shift between. This is especially the case with box trucks, which are considered a step below semis. This is because they have larger engines that are capable of carrying significant loads of cargo and thus need extra power to drive.

More importantly, though, many trucks have a slightly different form of manual transmission, called an unsynchronized manual transmission. This means it lacks a part called a synchronizer that allows the gears to latch when shifting with the clutch. With this type of transmission, however, it means that not only does the driver have to shift gears, but he or she also has to manually get the transmission to match the speed of the gear to latch on properly. This requires a technique called double-clutching, which requires moving the clutch to neutral every time you switch a gear. Recently, more commercial trucks are using automatic transmissions, but many trucking businesses still require learning to drive in manual.

For more information on truck transmissions, visit the Mr. Transmission website!

If your drive shaft is looking like this, it might be time to visit a Mr. Transmission.

Dealing with drive shaft vibrations

The drive shaft is a critical part of the vehicle and any damage it sees should be looked at by a professional. As the source of torque from the engine to the wheels, the shaft makes it possible for the vehicle to move forward. However, what makes drive shaft problems unique is that they are mostly consistent. All of them usually involve some form of vibration, usually at a specific speed. These vibrations vary in different ways, depending on what's actually broken. The professionals at Mr. Transmission want to ensure that you're driving safely, so here are some tips on how to tell what type of vibrations affect the drive shaft.

Slowing down
If you're experiencing any sort of vibrations while driving, the first thing you want to examine is the mounts of the motor and the transmission. If either of those parts is broken, that can be the source of the vibration and not the drive shaft. Head to an auto repair shop and get it replaced.

The most common forms of vibration occur at low speeds, usually under 30 mph. Sometimes they can be felt while shifting gears. When vibrations occur, three problems usually appear out of this. The first is the phasing of the single-cardan or u-joints. This problem concerns the orientation of the two joints located on each end of the drive shaft. On a normal car, the joints should be oriented in the same exact position on either end, so as to cancel out any variations in speed. Phasing changes the orientation on the front end, creating a so-called torsional vibration where the wheel is changing speed, either to slow down or speed up, twice per revolution.

That can mean that, when running at 1,000 RPM, the wheels will be making 2,000 speed changes per minute, creating vibrations that don't cancel out. When that happens, the shaft is slowly bending and twisting apart and will eventually break apart. Heading to your nearest Mr. Transmission can alleviate this problem, where experts can reorient the shaft.

Out of line
The second problem is angle alignment. As a general rule, the drive shaft joints should be in a line that varies only 1 to 3 degrees from the ground. If they aren't, more vibrations will be felt, especially at low speeds, during acceleration or under a significant load. If this is the case, the drive shaft won't last very long. Heading to a repair shop will enable you to get the drive shaft at the right variation.

The final problem concerns vibrations felt at high speeds, particularly above 60 mph. The reason these vibrations occur has to do with the weight balance in the drive shaft. Its center of mass, made through welding weights inside the tube, is thrown off because the part got dented by debris or bent out of shape. Sometimes confused for a suspension problem, this form of vibration is most often seen in all-wheel and four-wheel drive vehicles where center of mass is more critical. Because of the likely shape of the shaft, it's best to head to a Mr. Transmission right away to get the part replaced before it causes other problems.

For more information on auto repair, visit the Mr. Transmission website!

You want to make sure your car is in good shape so that your road trip is a success during the Labor Day weekend.

Tips for a successful Labor Day road trip

The upcoming Labor Day weekend is one of the busiest holiday weekends of the year for driving. According to AAA, nearly 35 million people will be driving more than 50 miles on the road this weekend, the highest it has been since the Great Recession began in 2008. For about 86 percent of those drivers, it will be their last road trip of the year, taking a final journey on the road before the school year starts for a great number of children and young people. With this in mind, Mr. Transmission would like to remind you of some tips to ensure that your travels are safe, and your car can endure the long distance.

Undergo a routine check
If you're going out on a long-distance trip, you want to make sure that everything is functioning properly. You don't want to end up breaking down in the middle of nowhere because your coolant is leaking, after all. There are many ways to ensure your car is in top shape for the trip, and one of them is to visit an auto repair franchise such as Mr. Transmission, where professional mechanics can look through everything, including the parts you may have trouble inspecting. The things they should be looking at are the suspension, the steering gear, the A/C unit, and the transmission. You may even need to have your transmission fluid flushed, so that it doesn't bake in the sun and get cooked by the engine. Among the things you can check yourself are the oil, the wiper blades and fluids and the coolant levels.

Keep your tires well-inflated
The Labor Day weekend is the last real weekend of the summer, so the weather will likely be between warm and hot. That can have a great impact on your tires. Too much air, and the expanding air caused by the hotter temperatures, will cause the tire to pop. If there's too little air, the tire will rip apart in a blowout by stretching beyond its intended limits. A blowout could cause a great hindrance on your trip at best, an accident at worst. It's a good idea to check the tires' air pressure during a routine drive. From there, inflate the tires until they're at the optimal, not maximum, level. It will save you a lot of trouble throughout the trip.

Have a back-up repair plan
Of course, even with the best preparation, something can go wrong. You suffer a breakdown of some kind in the middle of nowhere, with the nearest gas station or repair station being dozens if not hundreds of miles away. As a consequence, you want to make sure you have something in place to ensure that being stuck isn't too much of a hassle. Having a basic repair kit that includes screwdrivers, duct tape, vice grips and a flashlight, can be a great start. A roadside rescue service can also be a useful help, so that when things go really awry, you'll have access to a tow service that will at least get you somewhere safe.

Avoid traffic as much as possible
Steering clear of all traffic can be a tricky business, especially during the holiday weekend. However, stop-and-go traffic can really affect your car's performance, and can do things such as wear down the brakes over time. Long traffic jams will make that worse. So it's a good idea to do what you can to avoid all congestion if possible. Plan your trip so that you avoid major areas of congestion during rush hour, or before traffic really starts rolling in. When possible, take some back roads or scenic routes to your destination. In doing these basic steps, you can not only help your vehicle, but can likely get to where you're going faster.

For more car care tips, visit the Mr. Transmission website!

A healthy transmission will look like this. It won't if it's leaking or has a broken gear.

4 common transmission problems

Your transmission is an incredibly important component of your car. When the transmission breaks down your car won't be able to drive effectively, if at all, as the transmission enables the application of power from the engine to the wheels. To minimize the danger to yourself and keep the repair bill on the low side, pay attention to the sounds your vehicle makes as you drive. We here at Mr. Transmission believe your car safety is important, and can explain some common transmission problems that can occur while driving, as well as what should be done about it:

  • Transmission fluid leakage
    The most common and obvious problem involving transmissions is the leaking of transmission fluid. When working properly, transmission fluid serves as a lubricant and a cleaner, and doubles as a hydraulic fluid. If it gets too low, the vehicle will stop moving. Automatic transmission fluid essentially functions as the catalyst for the entire drivetrain, and thus its leakage is dangerous. Drivers can easily spot such leakage underneath the car. To determine the depth of the problem, check the fluid itself. If it's bright red in color, a repair at the source of the leak is needed. A darker color with a burnt smell indicates the fluid is old or contaminated and requires either flushing or changing after repairs are made. A professional service center such as Mr. Transmission would be recommended for these types of repairs.
  • Slippage
    When a transmission works properly, it stays in gear, allowing you to maintain a consistent speed on the road while driving. When the transmission starts slipping, that won't be the case. A blog post on Angie's List explained you'll feel like your car is starting to lose speed even with the gas pedal pressed to the floor. You may also suddenly feel it shift from one gear to another – even slip into neutral – without doing so intentionally. You might also experience trouble accelerating. More than likely, there is an internal fault. In either event, head to a repair shop such as Mr. Transmission as soon as possible for a Free Performance Check to determine the cause of the problem.
  • Gear grinding
    Shifting between gears using either a manual or an automatic transmission should occur with no reaction from the gearbox. If there is a reaction, there is a problem. For manual transmissions, the issue is often that during a shift, you'll hear grinding sounds from the transmission. For automatic transmission vehicles, the situation is initially subtle, more like a gear wiggling into motion, but then increases over time into grinding and shaking. When these issues occur, the most likely problem is that there is something wrong with the actual gears. Sometimes, though, it may also be that gears are running out of sync.
  • Check engine and general warning lights
    The check engine light, usually an outline of an engine, and the general warning light – an exclamation point encapsulated within a circle – are the most universal lights to indicate car trouble. Even the transmission will give out a check engine warning, in part because it has a sensor that can detect certain problems more easily than others. Whenever you see these two lights, it is important to get to an auto repair shop such as Milex Auto Complete Care to have the vehicle checked..

For more information on transmission maintenance, visit the Mr. Transmission website!

Some of the dashboard lights you see here are important to check on, for your car may need some repairs.

Understanding your warning lights

Often, your car can give you advance warning to go to an auto repair shop before it breaks down on the road. Warning lights can give you a clue as to what exactly is wrong with your car, utilizing a vehicle diagnostics system. Even if you see the light but don't think there is anything wrong with your car, it's still a good idea to head to an auto repair franchise to have things checked. Here are some dashboard lights you should be on the lookout for, according to the Technical Department at Moran Family of Brands,; Franchisor for Mr. Transmission, Milex Complete Auto Care, Multistate Transmission and Dr. Nick's Transmission:

Oil pressure warning
A red oil can, this light indicates that oil pressure is low. The engine will shut off until it receives the correct amount of oil.

Coolant or temperature alert
This light usually shows up as a thermometer within water on your dashboard.  This light appears when there is a temperature problem in the engine cooling system.   What this means is that there could be something wrong with your coolant level, which should be inspected by a trusted auto repair center as soon as possible.

Brake system or ABS alert
This light may indicate low brake fluid or a leak in the lines. It can show up as an exclamation point within a circle or even the ABS symbol. Sometimes an ABS fault can cause this light to come on in conjunction with the brake warning light.

Check engine
This is the most basic warning light. Usually a triangle with an exclamation mark, it is telling you that something is wrong with your car, and is sometimes accompanied by other warning lights.

Battery warning
Sometimes shown as a picture of a battery, this light indicates there your vehicles. Without power, you may not be able to start your vehicle.

No matter what lights appear on your dashboard, it's always good practice to take your vehicle to a professional, such as Mr. Transmission or Milex Complete Auto Care, to diagnose the exact issue that is occurring in your vehicle.

To learn more about trusted brands in the automotive aftermarket, visit the Moran Family of Brands website!