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***how To Check Automatic Transmission Before Buying A Used Car*** - Car Talk - Nairaland

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***how To Check Automatic Transmission Before Buying A Used Car*** by Articlife: 10:29pm On Mar 26, 2010
SOURCE: www.samarins.com

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How to check automatic transmission and discover possible transmission problem when buying a used car.

Please note, the information below is designed to give you an initial idea about what to look for when buying a used car and may help you to eliminate some used cars with potential problems, but it can not substitute for detailed mechanical inspection performed by a professional. As a final step before purchase, take the car to a mechanic of your choice for thorough mechanical inspection.

Automatic transmission

An automatic transmission becomes more reliable these days, but still it's a most-easy-to-break and very-expensive-to-fix part of the vehicle. If heavily abused, the automatic transmission can be easily destroyed within just half an hour. For example, a friend of mine had burnt the automatic transmission up in 20 minutes when he was trying to free his shiny Audi from the snow in the next day after he bought it! It cost him about $2000 to rebuild it and after one year it broke down again. Also, an automatic transmission is very sensitive to the transmission fluid quality and condition. Improper fluid type can damage the transmission. A person I know added a gear oil (oil for manual transmission) into the automatic transmission. Guess what, 30 minutes of driving was enough to kill the transmission. Obviously, when buying a used car, the automatic transmission is one of the most important parts to check. In this article I described few signs that may indicate potential transmission problem in a used car. In addition, I strongly recommend to have the used car inspected by a mechanic before buying it, it will well worth it.

At the beginning

First, check the used car history records; it may save you some time and money. If the used car history report shows that the car you want to buy was used as a rental vehicle or has been involved in an accident, there is no point to even look at it. Follow this link to find out How to check a used car history Ask the previous owner or salesperson if any repair has been done to the transmission. If the automatic transmission is already rebuilt, try to avoid buying such a car. It's not like all rebuilt transmission will have problems - some of them work even better than before. The problem is
that not all transmission shops can do equally the same high-quality job. And since there is no way to verify if it was rebuilt properly or not, it's better not to take chances. Another thing to be concern about, ask if the car you are looking for was used for towing a trailer. I've seen the transmission worn out in many cars that were used for towing a trailer.

How to check an automatic transmission

First, check the transmission fluid level and condition. If you don't know how to do it, here is an illustration: How to check the automatic fluid With the engine idling, transmission in "Park" (some car may have different procedure, refer to owner's manual) remove the automatic transmission dipstick and wipe it out with the clean cloth. Then insert it back and pull out again. Check the fluid level, low level may indicate a transmission leak. Look at the fluid very closely. It helps to drip the fluid on a white paper to be able to see fluid condition. The fluid on the paper should be clean and transparent, without any metal filings or black flakes. New fluid usually comes red. Over the time and use it become more brownish, but it shouldn't be black. Look at the image on the left. Try to smell the fluid. It should not have a burnt smell. All this may seem to be difficult for you, but when you check few similar cars, you'll be able to see the difference. If you discover that transmission fluid is too dirty or black, or smells burnt, avoid buying such a car. Keep in mind, however, that some modern cars simply don't have the transmission dipstick and require special procedure performed in a garage to check the fluid level. In this case, the only way to check it is a test drive.

Automatic transmission test drive

Use more caution when test-driving someone else's vehicle - the mirrors, the driver's seat, etc. may not be adjusted properly for you. First, get use to brake pedal feeling, adjust the mirrors, driver's seat, and learn all the controls of the vehicle. Proceed to drive only when you sure it's safe.
One of the indications of a transmission problem is delayed engagement, when there is a long delay between the moment you shift the shifter into "grin" (Drive) or "R" (Reverse) and the moment the transmission kicks in. It's easier to note delayed engagement after a car was sitting for a while: With the transmission in "P" (Park) start the engine, and wait until the engine rpm has reduced to normal level (650 - 850 rpm). With your foot holding down the brake pedal, shift to the "grin" (Drive) position. Almost immediately the transmission should engage - it feels like the car wants to creep forward. This should happen very smoothly, without a strong jerk or clunk. Shift to "N" (Neutral), and the transmission should disengage. Now, still holding the brakes, shift to the "R" (Reverse) position. Again, the transmission kicks in almost immediately - you will feel the car wants to creep backward. This also should be very smooth, without a jerk or clunk. Now, still holding the brake pedal down, try to shift from D to R and back. There should be no strong jerk or clunk. If there is a notable long delay (more than 1 seconds) between the moment you shift and the moment the transmission kicks in, such a transmission might be either too worn or has some problem, avoid this car. If you feel a strong jerk or clunk while shifting, the car may have a transmission problem, avoid such a car. Now it's time to test drive the car.

With the shifter in "grin" (Drive) position drive gently, with smooth and gradual acceleration. Until the vehicle reaches a speed of 30-37 mph (50-60 km/h) or you should feel the gears shifting at least twice (from first to second, and from second to third gear). All shifts should be done very smoothly, without jerks or slipping. You should be able to feel when the transmission shifts by the slight change in the engine tone or change in engine rpm. If the transmission is extremely worn it may shift with quite a strong jerk, shudder or a delay (especially from first to second gear). Driving at a speed of 25-30 mph (40-50 km/h) if you press down the accelerator pedal for a few seconds, you should feel downshifting to the lower gear, if the automatic transmission works properly.

The next step: check overdrive.

While driving at 60-70 km/h or 35-45 mph on a level road, without using the accelerator, switch overdrive ON. You should feel an upshifting to the next speed. Switch it to "OFF," and you should feel a downshifting. Another thing that may indicate the transmission problem is the slipping. When the transmission is excessively worn it may slip - which means you press the accelerator, the engine rpm increases but the speed remains the same. If during the drive test you feel any problem such as transmission seems to slipping or shifts with a jerk or shudder or if the transmission got stuck in some gear, or has trouble shifting into a particular gear (for example, from second to third), avoid buying such a car. Test-drive the car as long as possible. Often the transmission may work well when it's cold but when it's warmed up it starts giving troubles or visa versa. So, it's better to spend more time checking the transmission than later fixing it endlessly. Normally there should be no shudder, no noises or any kind of strong jerks at any speed and at any engine temperatures while any shifting. If the salesperson tells you that the jerks or shudder or any other abnormal transmission behavior is "normal" for this car or it's just because the car is cold or anything alike, don't trust them. If the "check engine" and/or a flashing overdrive light comes on while driving, have the problem assessed with your mechanic before buying a car.

Re: ***how To Check Automatic Transmission Before Buying A Used Car*** by Articlife: 10:59am On Mar 27, 2010
Note that you may not be able follow these guidelines to the letters in Naija for obvious reasons
Re: ***how To Check Automatic Transmission Before Buying A Used Car*** by GeorgeD1(m): 11:39am On Mar 27, 2010
artic life/jucol,
your doing a great job. thanks!
Re: ***how To Check Automatic Transmission Before Buying A Used Car*** by jumpmasta(m): 4:39pm On Mar 27, 2010
@poster,keep up the good work, a lttle addition.the car should be scanned if possible cos any error related code will be diagnosed. smiley smiley smiley smiley wink wink
Re: ***how To Check Automatic Transmission Before Buying A Used Car*** by GeorgeD1(m): 6:45pm On Mar 27, 2010
scanning is another good one.
Re: ***how To Check Automatic Transmission Before Buying A Used Car*** by cne010(m): 1:13pm On Mar 28, 2010
that was extremely helpfull thanks man, keep up the good work!!
Re: ***how To Check Automatic Transmission Before Buying A Used Car*** by earthrealm(m): 2:58pm On Apr 01, 2011
nice post. the rav4 2001 to 2003 has a design flaw in the ecm

see links ,
http://www.nairaland.com/nigeria?topic=597009.msg7648693#msg7648693
Re: ***how To Check Automatic Transmission Before Buying A Used Car*** by npatel123: 5:06am On Sep 26, 2012
Thanks for sharing tip. I want to add here, You need to have the engine running in order to accurately measure because some problems won't occur when the car is still cold. There probably is a machine someone has built for this purpose, but it's not something that is readily available.

___________________
Used cars in India
Re: ***how To Check Automatic Transmission Before Buying A Used Car*** by badoskey: 2:34pm On Oct 13, 2012
men i give it to you.This is the most detailed piece av ever come across on this topic
more grease or groundnut oil to ur elbow


npatel123: Thanks for sharing tip. I want to add here, You need to have the engine running in order to accurately measure because some problems won't occur when the car is still cold. There probably is a machine someone has built for this purpose, but it's not something that is readily available.

___________________
Used cars in India
Re: ***how To Check Automatic Transmission Before Buying A Used Car*** by okenna3: 1:55pm On May 13, 2013
[/color][color=#006600] Good info. Please keep it up. A useful info indeed
Re: ***how To Check Automatic Transmission Before Buying A Used Car*** by CHIMCO(m): 8:31am On May 15, 2013
I was having problems with 'R'. If i engage reverse it wil shift back a little and stoped. I will shift from 'P' to 'R' again it will do the same. I called my mechanic to check the transmission oil and he confirmed it to be okay but directed me to an expert on transmission problems. I called the man, but before i could take it to him the problem miraculously stoped. I could engage 'R' and cover some distance without any prombem. Although i still experience slow in engement of gears and slipery.
Re: ***how To Check Automatic Transmission Before Buying A Used Car*** by ib4babes(m): 9:03am On May 15, 2013
CHIMCO: I was having problems with 'R'. If i engage reverse it wil shift back a little and stoped. I will shift from 'P' to 'R' again it will do the same. I called my mechanic to check the transmission oil and he confirmed it to be okay but directed me to an expert on transmission problems. I called the man, but before i could take it to him the problem miraculously stoped. I could engage 'R' and cover some distance without any prombem. Although i still experience slow in engement of gears and slipery.
Yeah, please Artic_life: am having some problems with my Infiniti QX4 transmission system lately, it does not shilft to next gear smoothly sometimes, sometimes, sometimes mooves slowly on a hight RPM and sometimes jerks to next gear but if i allow it idle for a longer time before moving it moves ok and i changed/flushed my transmission fliud like 5months ago so the fluid is still fresh. Please, what can i do next?

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