Transmissions, Inc.

Repair advice

Here is some of our favorite advice from our newspaper ads.

Driving in the rain

The purpose of cruise control is to keep your car going at a constant speed. It's a valuable tool, saving gas and possibly saving drivers from getting tickets. But it can be dangerous in bad weather.

If you are driving at highway speeds in the rain and you begin to hydroplane, cruise control presents a dangerous problem. When tires lose traction, the first thing drivers should do to counteract skidding is take their foot off the accelerator. But when cruise control is engaged, you can't slow the tires unless you hit the brakes to disengage cruise control. Your tires may spin wildly on the slippery surface, making it hard to gain control of your vehicle on wet roads. When the tires quit sliding and connect with the road surface again, the car may lurch in any direction. The smart thing to do when driving in rain is disengage the cruise control and slow down. Driving in the rain requires extra awareness. Save the cruise control for good weather.

Tires can trick your transmission

Imagine this: Your 2004 Ford Explorer is beginning to act up and everyone you know warns you that your transmission is on its last leg. What’s worse, you get your general mechanic to check your vehicle’s computer for codes and find a stored code for a gear ratio error. Fortunately, your mechanic recommends that you come to our shop, where Steve Boyd* takes the SUV for a free test drive. While inspecting it, Steve notices you have two new tires, and he believes he has found the real source of your problem. Believe it or not, the slight difference in tread depth when you replace only two tires can fool the modern vehicle’s sensitive computer into thinking you have a serious problem. Now for the relatively minor cost of a set of new tires, your trusty truck is back on the road. Trusting the experts can really pay off.

*Steve is now retired.

Big problems?

Suddenly you notice your speedometer isn’t working. You take off from a stop and your car lurches, beginning in high gear. Do you need a major transmission repair?

You take your car to an automotive shop, they connect it to a computer scanner and get many codes indicating transmission problems. Are you out a lot of money for a major repair?

These are examples of things that seem bad, but can be repaired fairly inexpensively. In the first case, your output and input speed sensors may be bad; in the second example, you may simply need a fuse.

When you think your transmission’s acting up, come see our professional technicians. They are great at finding little causes for big problems.

Important questions

Here are some things you might want to ask any repair shop: 

  • Do they have up-to-date training and diagnostic equipment? 
  • Do they have a good record with the Better Business Bureau?
  • Do they have an electronic information system such as ALLDATA? These systems contain important factory provided technical and recall information. 
  • Do they have ASE Certified Technicians? 
  • Are they a member of a reputable automotive organization such as ATRA? 
  • Do they guarantee a major repair with at least a 12-month/12,000 mile warranty or more?
  • Do they have a great reputation? 

Ask your friends, neighbors and family.We can proudly answer yes to all the above questions! Come see us when you need transmission repair.

Flush or service?

You may have seen signs around town advertising transmission flushes. What’s the difference between a flush and a true service?

A flush is simply this: replacing your old fluid with new. When your transmission is flushed rather than serviced, you miss some important benefits.

When a professional technician services your transmission, he or she removes the pan and inspects the filter. This can be a good indicator of problems inside your transmission—excessive debris in the filter is a warning sign. A service allows your technician to inspect your old fluid, which can also let you know of possible problems. A flush doesn’t include a filter change (you wouldn’t change engine oil without changing the filter, would you?) or inspections.

Come in and let our trained, certified transmission professionals give your car a true transmission service.

Don’t trade it in

If your car is having a transmission problem but it’s otherwise in good condition, consider repairing it rather than trading it in. Especially in these hard economic times, repair can be much more cost effective than committing to the long-term investment of buying a car. Besides that, you know what you have now, but you don’t always know what you’ll get when you buy a car. 

Even if you decide to trade your car in later, you will get a lot more for it if the transmission is functioning properly. The investment you make to repair your car can bring a good return!

Don’t panic!

Not every transmission problem calls for a major repair. A noise or shifting problem can be caused by one or more of the following:

  • Fluid is low or contaminated
  • There is an internal problem in the transmission or transfer case
  • There are external controls or parts that need to be adjusted or replaced
  • Electrical components need adjustment or replacement
  • The computer may need replacement
  • Internal parts may be worn out

Come see us if something isn’t working right or if you’re hearing a noise. We’ll be happy to check your car for free and let you know if a minor repair will fix your problem.

Soft or hard?

When we rebuild your transmission, of course we replace all seals, gaskets and clutches. This is called a “soft parts” overhaul. At many garages that give low estimates, that’s all you get for the price. Anything else your transmission needs costs more.

At Dunn, we want you to get the best value for your money, so our rebuilding estimates include replacing all worn parts, parts that are likely to wear out, and updating your transmission to current specifications—a “hard parts” rebuild. Our estimates may seem higher than other shops, but that’s because they include everything needed for a quality transmission repair. You won’t receive a phone call once your transmission is in pieces with an increased estimate. We want you to have all the information you need before the work begins. Your price may be below our estimate, but it will not be more.

We are committed to quality and value. That’s how we’ve been in business more than 60 years.

Invest in quality

Inside the radiator of most vehicles is a small transmission fluid cooler. This cooler expands in the heat from fluid that passes through it.When a transmission fails and needs to be rebuilt, one step in doing the job correctly is cleaning metal shavings out of this cooler. Some shops attempt this by blowing compressed air through the cooler lines and cooler. The problem with this simple method is the cooler is cool at this point, so it is contracted, keeping the metal shavings inside. The industry standard for flushing the transmission cooler—getting it truly clean of debris—is to use a hot flush machine. This machine pumps hot transmission fluid back and forth through the cooler, and it can take up to two hours to get truly clean. These machines are expensive and require a time investment to learn and use properly, but the investment in quality is well worth it. Going the extra mile gives our customers a quality job that will last for many miles.

Watch for leaks

Low levels of transmission fluid or transmission fluid leaks are probably the most common type of transmission problem. Low fluid levels are often caused by leaks in the transmission system itself. The seals in the transmission or driveshaft may become faulty and leak fluid. Transmission seals may need to be replaced to stop the leaks. 

Sometimes transmission fluid may be contaminated from coolant in the radiator. This is called cross-contamination and can cause major problems.Generally speaking, symptoms of low fluid levels or leaks include gear slippage or slow shifting. Low levels can raise the temperature inside your transmission, and can cause your transmission to fail.

If you have questions about your car’s operation, come by. We will be happy to check your fluid level and condition for free.

Just what is it?

Your automatic transmission is a complicated piece of computer-controlled machinery that may have well over 1,000 different parts inside. It brings power from the engine to the drive wheels through a series of gear sets and friction devices (clutches and bands). It is controlled by a brain called the valve body, which responds to electrical and hydraulic signals that tell the transmission how and when to shift. It has a heart (the pump) that provides hydraulic pressure to lubricate and apply the appropriate friction devices. It is one of the most complex components in any automobile. Each part has to function perfectly with the others in order to work properly.

It takes a lot of training and specialized skill to understand the operation of an automatic transmission and to be able to repair it. We’re proud to offer trained, certified professionals who specialize in transmission repair. Come by and see their certifications!

Bad signs

Here are some times when you might want to bring your car to our shop:

  • You have fluid loss or notice leaks.
  • Jerky shifts.
  • Hard to get into gear.
  • Harsh or delayed engagements into gear.
  • Grinding noises when your car shifts.
  • The clutch pedal is hard to push down.
  • Noises or vibrations that change with your vehicle’s speed.
  • You need a regular fluid and filter change.
  • Any time something seems not quite right.

Come see us or give us a call any time. We’ll be glad to check your transmission for free.

Certified for excellence

With all your choices for auto repair, why should you drive all the way to the old part of town to our shop? One reason is certified technicians. To be certain the people who work on your car are trained professionals, make sure your prospective shop employs certified technicians. Our mechanics are trained and certified through the Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association and/or through ASE, National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Their certification reflects their commitment to excellence and quality in their work.Come downtown for old-fashioned service with the newest technologies. We’re worth the drive!

Keep driving?

Your transmission is making a noise. Your car is shifting funny. Or your check engine light is on. Should you keep driving?

If your light is on, get it checked! The check engine light is a sign that something is wrong with your drive train, either the transmission or the engine. Pay attention to it and get it checked quickly.

If your transmission is noisy or is not shifting right, get it checked as soon as you can. Driving with a problem can make the problem worse, maybe increasing the repair cost. Noise doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a major problem—something minor like a bad transmission mount can be very noisy.

Obviously, driving when your car has a problem can be a bad idea, increasing your chances of breaking down and being stranded. If you think something strange is happening, come let us test drive your car for free.

A sign to trust

The Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association is an international trade group for the transmission repair industry. With members across the U.S. and Canada, ATRA’s network of garages offers repair and warranty coverage anywhere you’re likely to drive. ATRA is not just a warranty system; members must adhere to ATRA’s Code of Ethics, pledging to provide polite, professional service at an honest price. Failing to meet ATRA standards means a shop can lose its membership. ATRA also offers training seminars for members all over the world, insuring member shops have the most current technical knowledge. Dunn Transmissions has upheld ATRA’s standards for more than 35 years. Come test our technical knowledge and training!

Emergency numbers

The worst possible time to try to find an honest shop and a good mechanic is when you need one. It’s like trying to find a good doctor when you’re already sick. The best thing to do is establish a relationship before you need it. When you’re broken down on the side of the road, who do you call? 

We encourage you to come by and meet us. Let’s get to know one another before you have a problem. Then when you do break down or spot a leak or notice your car behaving strangely, you’ll have a place to come for advice. We’ll be happy to arrange for wrecker service and help you get a rental car, even if your problem is not transmission-related. Cut out our number below and put it in your glove box, or enter it into your cell phone. Give us a call if you have a problem. We will do our best to help!

It’s going up

Take a look at the price of gas: It’s going up for the summer. Here are some tips from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) to help you save gas.

Slow down. Speeding and hard accelerations waste gas. 

  • Use cruise control on the highways to maintain a steady pace.
  • When waiting for friends or family, shut off the engine. Idling wastes fuel.
  • Consolidate daily errands to reduce driving.
  • Lighten up! Remove unnecessary items from your vehicle to reduce weight.
  • Keep up with your routine maintenance.
  • Keep your tires inflated to recommended levels.

Following these tips may increase your mileage, saving you money at the pump this summer.

Buyer beware

Be careful when you get a very low estimate to repair your transmission. Sometimes an unreasonably low price means the technician may be using used parts, low-quality parts, or may be putting your worn old parts back in your transmission.

When a transmission is rebuilt, some things need to be replaced whether they show a lot of wear or not. Trained technicians know that. By replacing those parts, you will get more miles out of your newly-rebuilt transmission. 

Quality parts are not cheap. A cheap rebuild may look good to start with, but many times the consumer will pay in the long run. Make sure your shop uses name-brand parts and does a thorough rebuild. That way you get your money’s worth: a quality job that will last many miles.

Not so easy

Checking fluid isn’t always an easy thing. Each car can be different. Some are checked while in park and some in neutral. And there are some you can’t check without special tools. A particular Chrysler with a Mercedes transmission doesn’t have a check stick. To check its fluid, you must use a special tool with markings on the bottom. But the markings aren’t labeled – you must be able to decipher which mark shows the correct level for your particular transmission. Even some late GM vehicles no longer have check sticks. To check the fluid in those transmissions, you need to put the car on a lift and check from underneath.It’s important to keep an eye on your fluid level and condition. Low or burned fluid can severely shorten the life of your transmission. Come by any time and let us take a look at your fluid. We’ll let you know if it needs to be changed or if you have more miles to drive before you need a service. Sometimes it’s easier to leave it to the experts!

A word of warning

Be careful when you’re considering an extended warranty for your car. A lot of customers come into our shop who are frustrated with their extended warranty companies. When they have car trouble and need their warranty, many times the warranty company leaves them high and dry. It seems some companies try to find ways to keep from honoring their warranties. Save your maintenance records. Know what is required of you and have all the paperwork you need in order to file. Be prepared to wait while the warranty company drags their feet, hoping your claim will just go away. Be persistent and don’t let them off the hook. Our best advice when choosing an extended warranty is to thoroughly research warranty companies. Ask your mechanic, use the Internet and take advantage of the Better Business Bureau. Go into it with your eyes open, knowing you may have to fight to get the payment you are owed.

Don’t do it!

Here are some things you should not do with your transmission:

  • No sudden stops! They wear out the gears just like fast starts.
  • Don’t drive until the engine warms up a little. The fluid needs to be warm enough to lubricate properly.
  • No racing! It’s hard on all the components of your car.
  • Don’t forget the parking brake. Setting it can protect your parking pawl.
  • Don’t use gears instead of the brakes to slow down.
  • Don’t shift from drive to reverse—or vice versa—unless you’re at a complete stop.
  • Don’t tow with your drive wheels on the ground.

These easy tips may help extend the life of your transmission.

Card-carrying technicians

Finding competent technicians doesn’t have to be a matter of chance. The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) tests and certifies automotive professionals in all major technical areas of repair and service. By passing difficult national tests, ASE certified technicians prove their technical competence to themselves, their employer and to their customers.We’re proud to employ ASE certified technicians. ASE recently honored Richard Dickerson for continuous certification for 25 years! Our two rebuilders, Chad Dickerson and Roscoe Dickerson, are also long-time ASE certified.Come by, have a cup of coffee and see their credentials!

The old part

We admit it: It takes a little extra effort to get to our shop. We are still in the old part of town, and there’s a good reason for that.During World War II, our founder, Truman Dunn, worked on cars in a little tin garage. As the war ended, he began to specialize in the new automatic transmission. He put up a sign: Dunn’s Transmission Shop. Years later, Ewell Dickerson bought the business, and it has grown over the years to take up almost the entire 1400 block of West Erwin. Though it has been greatly expanded, the little building Dunn’s Transmission Shop started in is still part of the property!

Our roots and our property are in downtown Tyler. Come see us in the old part of town, just west of downtown. We are worth the extra drive!

You get what you pay for

John Ruskin wrote, “The bitterness of poor quality lingers long after a cheap price is forgotten.” When choosing a shop for auto repair, don’t base your choice on telephone price shopping alone. Remember the old saying, "You get what you pay for”—if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Unfortunately there are many facilities that don’t follow a code of ethics, and they may give you a low-ball price just to get you in the door. How do you find a good shop? Ask your general repair mechanic, friends and family for advice. Look for professional certification and membership in professional and civic organizations. Check with the Better Business Bureau. And trust your instincts!

Choose experience

Why drive all the way downtown when your car acts up?ExperienceTraining is important, but experience is invaluable! Our shop has been repairing East Texan’s cars in the same location since the end of World War II—that’s almost 60 years of experience! We’ve been repairing automatic transmission almost as long as they have been available.Though we’ve been here a long time, we have an eye on the future. We may have worked on your grandparents’ cars, and we want to work on your grandchildren’s cars. We want your future business. We know you will only come back if you are treated fairly, get high-quality repairs and get good service. We haven’t stayed in business almost 60 years by taking advantage of our customers. Drive across town for old values and new technology. We’re worth the drive.

Choose quality

Why drive downtown when you need transmission repair? Quality, name-brand parts. You don’t want just any old parts used in your repair. Make sure your shop uses the best quality parts so you’ll get better performance and longer life from your repair.You may find a place where you can spend less money, but the old adage holds true: you get what you pay for. You won’t find a place that does a more thorough and complete job of rebuilding your transmission with all the latest factory updates. You also won’t find a place that’s more fair, that cares more about your repair experience and that wants to keep you as a returning customer. We want you to recommend us to your children and grandchildren some day. Come downtown for old-fashioned service and the newest technology. We are worth the drive.

Show your car a little love

 There’s no doubt about the value of preventive maintenance to keep your car running well, according to the Car Care Council. This Valentine’s Day week, treat your car to regular care and take the following preventive steps:

Change the engine oil and filter according to the owner’s manual. Check the tire pressure at least monthly, including the spare. Get a tune-up annually to optimize your car’s performance. Have the alignment checked at least annually. Inspect the windshield wipers and lights on the car. They are normal wear items that need periodic replacement.

A little preventive maintenance will help ensure that your car is safe and reliable, may raise your gas mileage, and may help you get more life from your vehicle.