Autobahn West

Providing superb car service and repairs to BMW, Mini Cooper, Porsche, Volvo and Mercedes owners since 1976

Autobahn West - Providing superb car service and repairs to BMW, Mini Cooper, Porsche, Volvo and Mercedes owners since 1976

Gear Up: Transmission Service at Autobahn West in Mission Viejo

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The transmission system in your vehicle allows you to change gears. Lower gears are power gears. They get your vehicle moving and get it up hills. Higher gears get the vehicle up to speed and get it rolling faster. If you have a standard transmission, then you have to do the work of shifting gears yourself. But with an automatic transmission, the vehicle shifts gears on its own. It automatically starts out in low gear and automatically shifts to high gears as it gets rolling. Again, it will automatically shift to a lower gear to climb hills or when you need a burst of speed.

How does it know when to change gears? Today’s automatic transmissions are computer-controlled. The computer gathers information about what the vehicle is doing, and changes the gears as needed.

Automatic transmissions are becoming more sophisticated all the time. More gears, or “speeds” are being added. Almost all vehicles have four at least speeds. Five or six is common. Some car makers are even increasing to seven or eight – up to ten. Adding gears has a lot of advantages for Mission Viejo car owners: it improves fuel economy and increases performance.

But there is a drawback for Mission Viejo car owners: more gears equals more parts and a more complex transmission system. Plus, all those parts need to fit into the same space as older, less complex transmissions. This means that today’s transmissions are engineered to much tighter tolerances. In other words, they demand meticulous care from Mission Viejo auto owners. Transmissions are designed for durability. But that durability can be compromised if they aren’t given proper care.

That’s why changing transmission fluid is such an important part of preventive maintenance for Mission Viejo motorists. Transmission fluid lubricates the transmission and keeps it in good working order. But if the fluid runs low, transmission parts will wear out quickly or suffer costly damage due to increased friction. The transmission can even fail.

Dirty transmission fluid can clog the small passageways in the transmission, blocking lubricant from reaching all of its parts. Again, this can lead to increased wear, damage or failure.

New transmissions aren’t cheap. Repairing them isn’t cheap either. But changing transmission fluid is fairly inexpensive for Mission Viejo auto owners at Autobahn West. That’s why responsible car care includes maintenance on the transmission system at Autobahn West. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that periodic fluid changes aren’t just good auto advice, they actually pay for themselves by preventing expensive transmission repairs.

Differential Service At Autobahn West: Viva la Difference

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Every pickup on CA freeways has a differential, and it is essential to the proper operation of the vehicle, but most Mission Viejo motorists don’t have a clue what it is.

The differential compensates for differing wheel speeds. For example, when you turn, the inside tire on the turn travels a much shorter distance than the outside wheel. So the inside wheel of the pickup must move at a slower speed than the outside wheel. Without a differential, the wheels would hop and scrape while turning.

Differential Service At Autobahn West: Vive ala Difference Have you ever seen the large bugle-shaped object in the middle of the rear axle of a truck? That’s the differential. In a rear-wheel drive vehicle, the differential is located on the back axle. Four-wheel drive vehicles and SUV’s have differentials on both the front and the rear axle.

You might expect that the differential is located on the front axle of a front-wheel drive vehicle. You’d be right. But the differential is called a transaxle on a front-wheel drive vehicle because its location allows it to be combined with the transmission.

In an all-wheel drive vehicle, an additional differential or transfer case is located between the front and rear axles. Differentials are strong: They have to be because of the important job they do. But those tough parts need proper lubrication. You don’t want your differential to seize up. That results in expensive damage to your pickup.

So you need to have your pickup differential serviced regularly. It’s not a complicated job. At Autobahn West in Mission Viejo we’ve been servicing differentials for 6 years. The used lubricating fluid is simply drained and then replaced. Some vehicles require specific additives in the differential fluid; your Mission Viejo service center will ensure you are getting what your pickup needs.

The intervals in time or mileage for servicing your differential vary greatly from vehicle to vehicle. Check with your owner’s manual or Autobahn West to find out how often your pickup differential needs to be serviced.

Generally, however, front-wheel drive vehicles need their differential serviced more often than rear-wheel drive vehicles. Also, if you spend a lot of time off-road or on Irvine area dirt or gravel roads, or if you drive through water, you will need to service your differential more often than the standard recommendation – check with your understanding Autobahn West tech.

Preventive maintenance for your differential is good car care that can spare you pricey repair bills. Knowing what your differential is and how it operates is critical and will help you understand why this is good auto advice. Remember, take care of your pickup, and it will take care of you.

Alternative Fuel Vehicles In Mission Viejo, CA

Let’s talk about alternative fuel vehicles. In their quest to reduce the use of fossil fuels and harmful exhaust emissions in our Mission Viejo environment, automakers will have a number of alternatives for Mission Viejo drivers very soon.

For instance, Flex Fuel vehicles are already available in the Irvine area. Flex Fuel vehicles can run on gasoline or on E85 fuel. E85 is a mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. The ethanol is made from corn.  The benefits to Mission Viejo drivers are in using less petroleum and reduced pollution. The drawbacks are that E85 gets lower gas mileage and that when gas prices are low, E85 can be more expensive than straight gasoline.

Mission Viejo drivers should only use E85 if they have a Flex Fuel compatible engine. Flex Fuel vehicles have special seals and gaskets that can stand up to the high alcohol content of E85. Using E85 in a regular engine can lead to gas leaks and fires.

Diesel engines have been around the Irvine area for a long, long time. Modern diesels are very refined and fuel efficient. Diesel fuel can be made from renewable sources like vegetable oil, too. Diesel fuel from algae and sunlight is reported to be pretty close to being commercially viable.

There are also a number of natural gas vehicles on our Mission Viejo roads. Gasoline engines are adapted to run on compressed natural gas. It’s less expensive than gasoline and burns very cleanly. You can even refill it with a special pump from your gas line at home.

Natural gas engines don’t make as much power and don’t get as good fuel economy, but they cost Mission Viejo drivers less per mile to run. The big inconvenience is that the tank that holds the compressed natural gas takes up a lot of room; even your whole trunk! And there may not be places to refuel on a road trip from Mission Viejo to Irvine.

Plug-in electric vehicles are now available in our Mission Viejo area. Battery technology is the limiting factor right now. Electric cars have a limited range and are really best for use close to home. As battery technology advances, electric cars will perform closer and closer to conventional power plants.

That brings us to hybrids. There are a bunch of hybrids on our CA roads, with more to come. Hybrid technology combines internal combustion engines with electric motors.

A mild hybrid has a regular gas or diesel engine that’s assisted by the electric motor. The electric motor can propel the vehicle by itself up to a certain speed under gentle acceleration. There are mild hybrids in full-sized pickups and SUVs. They deliver fuel economy similar to their highway ratings.

A full hybrid will rely primarily on the electric motor for power. It’ll have a small gas or diesel engine that generates electricity for the batteries.

Another breakthrough technology from auto makers is hydrogen fuel cells. Fuel cell vehicles use hydrogen to generate electricity. Several global car makers have prototypes on the road. The appeal is that the only thing that comes out of the tail pipe is water vapor. It’ll take some time to build a national infrastructure of hydrogen fueling stations before there’s widespread use in CA.

A quick word from Autobahn West about safety around hybrid and electric vehicles. Unlike the battery in your current family car, these carry enough voltage to kill you. Never mess around under the hood or with the batteries or electrical wiring. Your Irvine service technician at  Autobahn West is trained to safely disable the flow of electricity before performing maintenance or repairs on the vehicle.

Hybrids are really not do-it-yourself vehicles unless you’re specifically trained on hybrid systems.

A Cool and Smooth Transmission in Mission Viejo

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When it comes to preventive maintenance on our vehicles, most of us Mission Viejo motorists remember to get our oil changed. But Autobahn West services that occur at longer intervals — like transmission service — sometimes get overlooked. Yet transmission service is a key part of car care for Mission Viejo motorists. A poorly maintained transmission will lessen fuel efficiency and lead to costly repairs.

The transmission transfers power from the engine to the drive wheels. When it’s clean and well – lubricated, it gives maximum fuel efficiency. But when it gets dirty or worn down, your fuel economy will suffer. Your transmission relies on transmission fluid to keep everything running well.

Transmission fluid has two jobs: to cool and lubricate the transmission. The transmission operates at high temperatures. It can get 100-150°F degrees hotter inside your transmission than inside your engine. Transmission fluid transfers some of the heat away from the transmission. Transmissions work hard. Their parts need constant lubrication to prevent excessive wear and keep them running smoothly for Mission Viejo car owners.

The constant shifting and movement of gears inside the transmission cause bits of the gears and clutch material to wear off. These bits of detrimental grit get into the transmission fluid. This grit increases friction inside the transmission and causes even more wear – it’s like liquid sandpaper. Also, the high temperatures inside the transmission cause the transmission fluid to break down over time, making it a less effective lubricant. The fluid can actually become sludgy, which can gradually plug up the maze of passages inside the transmission. Gradually, the transmission loses efficiency and stops operating smoothly. Eventually, the transmission will be damaged or fail altogether.

This is why the transmission fluid must be changed periodically. Your owner’s manual will give you a recommended time schedule for this key service. Or, you can speak with your understanding Autobahn West service professional. Generally, the interval is around 35,000 miles (55,000 km) or every two years. But the interval for your pickup may be shorter or longer.

Of course, if you give your transmission a real workout, you’re going to have to change the fluid more often than the auto maker recommends. If you drive in hot, dusty CA conditions, if you tow a trailer around Mission Viejo, if you haul heavy loads or if you do a lot of stop-and-go Irvine driving, then you need to change transmission fluid more often. Also, if you demand frequent bursts of speed from your engine — especially shooting away from stops — your transmission is working harder and will need more frequent care. Check your owner’s manual for the “severe conditions” service interval.

Transmission fluids vary from vehicle to vehicle, so you’ll also need to check your owner’s manual to know what kind your pickup needs, or communicate with your understanding Autobahn West tech.

At Autobahn West in Mission Viejo, transmission fluid can usually be changed while you wait and is simple and not particularly expensive. Compared to the cost of pricey transmission repairs or a new transmission, it’s downright cheap! So take some good auto advice from the team at Autobahn West and take care of your transmission. It will pay you back in improved fuel efficiency and a longer, smoother ride.