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A1 Blog

Do you know what is the most frequently-asked question we hear? "How can I make my car last longer and still be safe?" That's why we decided to post important information on our website throughout the year. It's all about keeping you and your family safe and on the road. Be sure to check back often for new information, helpful safety tips, and great deals!

 

July 25, 2017
Extend Transmission Life by Reducing Heat

The most common cause of automatic transmission failure is heat. You can get more miles out of your transmission by reducing the heat heat builds up during normal operation. Here are a few things you can do to help reduce heat, and keep your transmission working longer:

1. Avoid Jackrabbit Starts - Hard accelerations create a lot of friction and heat in the transmission. Take it easy on the gas, and your transmission will live longer.
   
2. Help the Shift - Most of the friction and wear in the transmission takes place during the shifts. Get to know when your transmission shifts normally. Then, just before the shift, back off on the gas just a bit. That'll reduce the load on the clutches, and eliminate much of the friction during the shift.
   
3. Keep the Cooling System in Good Shape - Your car's radiator also provides cooling for your transmission. And heat damage will take place in the transmission long before the engine appears to overheat. So regular cooling system service can help your transmission run cooler... and last longer.
   
4. Add a Transmission Cooler - If you travel a lot in extremely high temperatures or carry a lot of weight in your car, an auxiliary transmission cooler is a great way to reduce heat and add years to your transmission's life.

 

June 23, 2017
How do I know if I need a New Transmission

Your transmission suddenly isn't shifting right. So what's wrong with it? Do you need your transmission rebuilt? Good questions. Unfortunately, the answer is: No one knows. At least, not yet.

To find out what's causing your transmission problem, a technician is going to have to perform a series of tests. Basically, these tests are designed to answer the simple question: "Is it inside or outside?" That is, is the problem inside the transmission, or in one of the many control systems that operates the transmission?

That's because there's a lot more to transmission operation than the transmission itself. Nearly every transmission on the road today is controlled by a computer system. That system is integrated into the rest of the vehicle. So a problem in the engine - or for that matter, even the brakes - could have a dramatic effect on transmission operation.

In fact, today's transmissions are so integrated with the rest of the vehicle that many technicians with years of auto repair experience can have a difficult time determining whether a problem is inside the transmission or not. Until a properly trained and experienced transmission technician examines the vehicle and performs the necessary tests, there's no way anyone can tell you for sure what's wrong with your car's transmission. Once those tests are performed, a qualified technician should be able to tell you precisely whether you're dealing with a transmission problem or not. And he (or she) will be able to let you know what it'll take to fix your car and put it back into proper running condition.

The really great news is the vast majority of customers who bring their cars in with transmission problems don't actually need their transmissions rebuilt. In most cases the problem turns out to be external, which usually costs far less than a transmission rebuild. But the only way you can be sure you're only paying for the work you need is by bringing your car to a qualified transmission repair shop, such as A-1 Automatics and Towing.

 

May 31, 2017
Buying a Safe Car for your Teen Driver

Most parents look for the best used car when shopping for their teen to save money, but although you may need to make compromises to stay within budget, don’t skimp on safety. Make sure the vehicle you buy has advanced safety features such as electronic stability control (ESC) and curtain airbags, as well as good crash-test results.

Choosing the best used car for a young driver will usually involve compromises among budget, desirable features, and the wants of an image-conscious teen. The best bet is to buy the newest, most reliable model with the most safety equipment you can afford. Do not even consider a car without antilock brakes. If you can reach a little deeper and get a car equipped with side and head-protection curtain airbags, antilock brakes, and electronic stability control, so much the better. The lifesaving assistance those systems can provide is worth every penny in an emergency situation, and they can be especially beneficial to an inexperienced driver.

As far as what type of vehicle is best, large pickups and SUVs are not recommended for young, inexperienced drivers because they are more prone to roll over than other vehicles. Sports cars increase the risk of speeding and have a higher rate of accidents, and consequently, they carry tuition-sapping insurance premiums.

Reliability is key when choosing a used car because it probably will not have the warranty protection common on new cars. Further, you may intend for your teen to drive this first car for years to come, while money is funneled to college and starting independent adult life.

But keep in mind that every used car gets treated differently. The older a car gets, the more its care and maintenance history will affect its overall performance and reliability. Once you have narrowed your shopping list to cars that are likely to be smart choices, have the specific car you are considering purchasing thoroughly inspected by a qualified automotive technician before you make the purchase.

 

April 15, 2017
Preventing a Transmission Breakdown

The Importance of Transmission Care

Prevention is better than cure. You've probably heard that said plenty of times. The phrase is most often used to talk about health and medicine, but it is just as valid to apply it to vehicles. It's great if your problem can be sorted without much trouble, but even better not to have a problem in the first place. This is especially true when it comes to your vehicle's transmission, as this can be one of the more specialized parts to repair. Not all transmission problems require an extensive overhaul, but they will all cause at least some trouble and inconvenience. Avoiding transmission problems is clearly preferable to even the problems that are quickest and cheapest repair. This is why it is important to ensure you take good care of your transmission. This will help prevent problems and keep it working smoothly. Ideally, it will mean that it doesn't develop any faults at all. Even if it does eventually go wrong, however, it is entirely possible that good care will mean the fault is less serious and easier to repair than it would have been otherwise.

Looking After Your Transmission

Good transmission care starts with simple but important things like making sure you don't neglect to check your transmission fluid regularly. This should be done roughly every 1,000 miles. As well as checking the level, pay attention to color and smell. If the color is unusually dark or the smell resembles burning, this could indicate the start of problems. The fluid should also be changed every 15,000 miles or every other year, depending on which comes first. Theoretically, transmission fluid has a much longer life than this. In practice, however, relatively simple things such as stop-and-go traffic or short journeys can drastically shorten its lifespan. For most drivers, assuming a lifespan of 15,000 miles or two years is the safest option. Certain driving practices can also help keep your transmission well cared-for. These include such easy steps as not overloading your vehicle and allowing it to warm up thoroughly on cold mornings. It is also important avoiding rocking between gears if your vehicle becomes stuck in mud or on ice. If you must rock, do so as gently as possible and make sure the wheels have stopped moving before each gear change. This will drastically reduce the strain placed on the transmission.

What if you Still Develop a Transmission Problem?

Unfortunately, there is no foolproof way to prevent transmission problems altogether. If this does happen, it is still possible to minimize the inconvenience it will cause. One of the best ways to do this is to ensure you have adequate and appropriate breakdown cover from your insurer. Of course, for most people this is a balancing act with price. This is where insurance comparison sites are very useful. They display not only prices, but the details of what each company offers, allowing you to compare how appropriate different packages are for you. This makes it far easier to find the best balance of cost and features. Before settling on a company, it is also important to find out more about their customer service and how helpful they are in the event of a breakdown. A bad insurer, that will take forever to pay for repairs or produce other promised features such as a courtesy car, will only add stress and trouble to your breakdown experience. Search for reviews of various providers online. This will allow you to read honest and independent feedback from independent bodies, and from everyday people who have used the company in the past.

Catching Problems Early

Once again, there is no way to completely guarantee your transmission will not develop a fault. However, even when a fault does begin to develop, there is still an element of problem prevention. Catching transmission problems early can prevent them from worsening and prevent further trouble from developing. This can potentially mean a simple repair instead of a major one. As such, it is vital to get any potential trouble looked at by a professional. It is also important to play it safe. If you think a problem is developing but you aren't sure, it can be better to get it checked by an expert than to wait until the problem gets bad enough to leave you in no doubt. If you notice anything odd about your transmission or sudden changes to the way your car drives, get it looked at by professionals. If you notice any changes to the way your transmission works, such as trouble changing gears or a delay before the gear seems to shift, get it looked at promptly to avoid further inconvenience.