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Telltale signs that there is something wrong with your gearbox include:
- Strange noises coming from the gearbox, such as crunching between gear changes, rumbling in neutral, noisy when the clutch is depressed or when you are accelerating/decelerating.
- Unusual behaviour, such as being slow to respond to a gear change, refusing to go into gear when the engine is running, gears being hard to engage when the engine is cold, the engine revving when the gears are under load, or changing gear randomly.
- Burning smells emanating from the gearbox or the transmission fluid smells burned.
- Leaking oil or transmission fluid.
Ideally, you should change your gearbox oil every 50,000 to 80,000 km and your oil filter at the same time. If you do a lot of high-stress driving, such as towing or driving in low-traction conditions, then it’s advisable to stick to the more frequent end of the scale. Old, dirty oil becomes less viscous over time, which means that it doesn’t lubricate your gearbox as well as it should, which can lead to damage.
While it depends on the model of the car you drive, checking your gearbox oil level will usually require you to get underneath the car and locate the filler plug on the side of the gearbox. Wipe the area around the plug clean and unscrew it with the correct tool. Be sure to place a pan underneath in case the oil overflows. The oil should be level with the bottom of the hole. If not, place a clean, bent piece of wire into the opening to ascertain how low the oil level is. Some models of cars have a gearbox oil dipstick.
Automatic transmission fluid cools and lubricates your vehicle’s automatic transmission, protecting it from wear and tear, and helping your gears shift smoothly. But, over time, particles begin to accumulate in the fluid, creating friction and heat. If left long enough, this debris forms into a sludge that can interfere with accelerating and gear shifting. If your transmission’s hydraulic lines become clogged, your inner seals may break and leak, causing serious damage. To prevent this, it’s necessary to flush your transmission at regular intervals. This process removes the old, dirty transmission fluid and flushes out any accumulated grime. A regular transmission flush will extend the life of your transmission, improve performance, and may also be a requirement of your vehicle’s warranty.
A direct-shift gearbox (also known as a dual-clutch gearbox) is a transmission with two independent gearboxes, driveshafts, and clutches. While one gearbox handles the gear you’re currently using, the second is busy working out which gear you’re most likely to want next. It combines the driving experience of a manual transmission with the convenience of an automatic transmission.
A DSG gearbox comes with an inbuilt control module that constantly monitors your driving, taking note of the engine and road speed, the position of your accelerator, and which driving mode you’re in (normal or sport). It uses all of that information to select the perfect gear and the optimum time to shift to the next. When it’s time to change, the transmission swaps to the other gearbox, which is already prepared for the new gear.
The result is exceptionally smooth and super-fast shifting – Volkswagen claims each change can take just four one-hundredths of a second. It also means there is no reduction in traction. Because the DSG maintains constant torque, it’s especially well-suited to turbocharged engines, always keeping the turbo spooled up. Another benefit is improved fuel economy over a standard automatic, as the transmission is extremely efficient, with very little power wastage. According to Volkswagen, their DSGs are, in some cases, even more fuel-efficient than a conventional manual transmission.
You can drive a DSG in two modes: automatic or Tiptronic. Tiptronic allows you to decide when to move through the gears, rather than the car doing it for you. You do this by engaging Tiptronic mode and tapping the gearstick for each shift, or some Volkswagen models have paddle shifts for a sportier experience. Note that, unlike a manual transmission, the clutch still operates completely automatically in Tiptronic mode.
Think you may have a problem with your VW or Audi transmission or gearbox?
If you’re driving a newer model car with an automatic gearbox, there’s a good chance that you’ve got a transmission warning light somewhere on your dashboard. Hopefully, you’ve been lucky enough not to have seen it light up before. But if that light does come on, what does it mean, and what should you do?
Why did the light come on?
Your automatic gearbox is a clever piece of tech that is chock full of sensors. They keep an eye on your gearbox components and the transmission fluid that keeps the system properly lubricated. If anything doesn’t look right, the sensors will send a message to the vehicle’s computer, and the warning light will illuminate. Common triggers for your transmission warning light include:
Heat: Overheating is the most common reason for your transmission warning light to come on. It could be caused by towing a load that’s too heavy for your vehicle, old or dirty transmission fluid, leaks, or solenoid problems.
Fluid levels: If your transmission fluid is low, it can result in a host of problems, any of which may trigger your warning light. Your car doesn’t “use up” transmission fluid, so if it’s low, you probably have a leak somewhere.
Component failure: Problems with any of the individual components in your automatic transmission may cause the warning light to come on, such as the valve body, torque converter, shift interlock, clutch packs, and more.
Electronics malfunction: As we all know, technology is not infallible. Your warning light might be the result of a computer problem or damaged wiring.
What should I do?
An automatic transmission is full of sensitive machinery, so if your transmission warning light comes on, you should stop driving the vehicle as soon as possible, even if it seems to be operating okay. Continuing to drive could worsen the problem, leading to more expensive repairs and damage to other parts of your engine.
At Kaspa, we have the most advanced technology in Auckland for assessing and diagnosing automatic transmission problems. Bring your vehicle in for a free ten-point check, and we’ll uncover the reason behind your transmission warning light!
CVT stands for continuous variable transmission. It’s a type of automatic gearbox that has been around since the early days of motoring but became more common in the 1950s when Dutch manufacturer DAF introduced their Variomatic CVT gearbox.
CVT gearboxes work differently from both manual and traditional automatic gearboxes. With a manual gearbox, the driver is responsible for selecting which gear the car should be in. With an automatic gearbox, the hydraulic system in the transmission senses which gear the car should be in and responds accordingly.
A CVT gearbox, on the other hand, has no gears. Instead, it usually has a pulley system that automatically and continuously adjusts the gear ratio to the driving conditions (although some models use rotating discs and rollers, or pumps).
CVTs have several benefits:
- Because they are constantly adjusting to the optimal gear ratio, they are very fuel-efficient, particularly for urban driving.
- They can also offer a smoother ride because there is no upshifting or downshifting.
- Because they have fewer moving parts, CVTs tend to be quite reliable.
Some drivers find the lack of a noticeable shift between gears disconcerting, preferring a more traditional driving experience. As a result, Nissan has developed the Xtronic CVT gearbox, which features noticeable steps in the power delivery.
The most common issue you are likely to experience with a CVT is that the drive belt between the pulleys can wear out and start to slip. If you can hear the engine revving, but the car fails to accelerate appropriately, then you might need to get your drive belt replaced.
As with all transmissions, a CVT should give you many years of trouble-free motoring if you keep it properly serviced and maintained. At Kaspa, we’ve been taking care of CVT transmissions since they were introduced to New Zealand. We can give you a free written assessment of your transmission to ensure it stays in top shape.
Nothing! We offer a Free Ten Point Check.
Over many years our experience has taught us that the best way to diagnose your transmission is to go for a test drive with you and experience the problems you are having first-hand.
When you drive your car into one of our workshops one of our friendly experienced technicians will take you and your car for a test drive and fill out a written form with all the checks we make and any issues we find. We do this to get a better feel for the car and any issues you might be having. From this point, we can give you the best options as to how to proceed with getting your car running back at its best.
Read more about our Free Ten Point Check
A transmission fluid change is also called a transmission flush. Industry experts recommend you have your transmission flush serviced every 12 months or 20,000km whichever comes first. General car servicing does not normally include a transmission or gearbox service.
Your transmission works hard in your car to get you from A-B, and being one of the most expensive mechanisms to repair it makes sense to take care of your transmission. Consider servicing as being a valuable insurance policy. Every day we see cases where clients could have saved thousands of dollars by doing an inexpensive service.
Read more about transmission flush servicing.
Automatic transmission flushing necessitates the use of specialised equipment. The explanation for this is that simply opening the gearbox's bottom plug would only allow around 30% of the oil to escape, while the rest is stuck in different parts of the gearbox.
Our specially designed equipment hooks up to your transmission and can softly power flush not only the transmission but also the cooler lines, the cooler, the torque converter and all related components. This will remove 95% of the old fluid and replace it with new oil which is correct for your vehicle.
The cost of transmission flush starts at $350 incl GST, depending on what size the gearbox is and if it has to have a special oil.
Read more about Transmission flush servicing
You’ll know when there’s something wrong with your automatic transmission because it will send out one or more warning signs, such as:
- failing to engage when you put your car into drive or reverse
- grinding, shaking, or slipping during automatic gear changes
- making strange noises like whining, clanking, or humming
- emitting a burning smell
These signs are all indications that you need to get your automatic gearbox serviced or repaired.
And, yes, it is possible to have that done! Learn more
One form of a manual transmission is known as a sequential gearbox. It is similar to the usual manual transmission in that you still need to move through the gears yourself, but rather than choosing a gear from the H layout, you simply hit a lever up or down to move through the gears.
Sequential gearboxes are faster and easier to use than normal manual gearboxes. There is no need to remember the position of each gear, as you only have to move the gear lever up or down in the direction you want to shift. This speed of use makes sequential transmissions common in high-performance vehicles and race cars. They are also used in motorbikes.
Read More about manual sequential gearboxes
We have put together some helpful tips to help you maintain your transmission and cut down on your chances of major problems in the future.
- When moving the shifter into drive, reverse or park make sure you are completely stopped.
- When moving the vehicle into drive or reverse allow 1 – 2 sec for the transmission to engage before accelerating.
- Do not press the accelerator to increase the revs before engaging drive or reverse.
- Always check your parking space for leaks. Low transmission fluid will lead to something more serious, so if you notice something, get it checked as soon as possible.
Towing with your vehicle
- If you do a lot of towing it is important to have the transmission serviced more often. An external transmission cooler is vital for towing.
- Transmission servicing is recommended every 20,000km or every 12 months, whichever comes first. It is essential to have good quality Transmission fluid.
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Kaspa transmissions have all the knowledge to help you with your transmission or gearbox. With hands-on experience, training, and in-house research, we know that we can cover all problems and point you in the right direction.
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