My search for transmission service (Post #182) 6/23/2010

Well once again a resource I counted on is gone and I am left looking for service for my transmissions. I have two vehicles needing service for their transmissions. RovErica is driving the Ford Taurus these days. She reports trouble with it shifting…sometimes. She has independent third party confirmation that the transmission is misbehaving. I’m not sure that is enough to have it taken to the shop. So I went out one night she was home, which is a rare event, and tested it. I drove it and made it shift hard. It didn’t misbehave for me. And when she drove it home it didn’t misbehave for her.

I’m guessing at this point it only happens when it’s hot. When we got back to the house I checked the level, it was good, and smelled the fluid. It does have that lovely burned smell. The Taurus has never had a transmission service in its 8 year life. The car doesn’t even have 70,000 miles on it yet. But it looks and drives like it was driven to through a war zone, twice. So a service it will have. And hopefully it will last another 70,000 miles until RovErica can afford a new car.

As you read in the last trailer post, I think I’ve done something to the Range Rover’s transmission. As you may or may not remember there was some rough going when the transmission ran in 4th gear as I got to the half way home portion of the drive. The transmission fluid is burned. That is a fact. Or as my son, Diet Mt Drew would say, “that is a true fact”.

This is the original transmission and has well over 190,000 miles on it. I have had it serviced only once that I can remember (curse me for not filling out those service books). I had trouble with the transmission one other time when the torque converter went out. I was hauling down the Indian Nation Turnpike in route to a Fur Trade event at Fort Towson. I stopped for a candy bar (3 Musketeers) and a Coke (what kind? Coca-Cola, see #19) it’s an Okie thing, you may not understand.

When I walked back out to my Classic I thought I saw a puddle of magic red motion juice under the right rear of the engine bay. I thought to myself, “I must have parked over someone else’s leak. Sucks for them.” But then I thought, “what if its mine?” So I moved her to a dry spot and sure enough I was leaking. Eek Gad! I quickly popped the bonnet and looked. I finally found the leak at the transmission filler tube. What had happened as best I can figure was the torque converter was failing (wobbling) and was causing the fluid to foam. When the magic red motion fluid foams it is less magical and thusly less able to move your Range Rover down the road effectively.

In any event the Indian Nation turnpike between I-40 and that gawd awful state to the south (Tejas) is not somewhere you want to be stranded on a cold Oklahoma night in February. You can die out there. Now I’m a resourceful kinda guy and had all the trappings with me to sleep over night in February in Oklahoma circa 1820. So that was not what I was worried about. I was worried about getting the Rover home and avoiding a 300$(US)+ towing bill by Bubba the “how much money you got” tow truck driver. So I canceled my plans and rotated my “Which Century Are You Living In” dial back to the late 20th Century and headed back west on the first exit and traversed the back highways to highway 9 and on into Norman at an easy, slow pace.

The Monday after the aborted trip I took her to Cottman’s off West Lindsey street in Norman. They did a great job getting my torque converter repaired [895$(US)] and I would recommend them again. But that’s where this post started. They are no longer in business at that location. And if you have read the post that details my preparation for our cross country jaunt to California in 2008 you will remember the trouble I had getting the Discovery a transmission service. The Cottman’s in South OKC left me hanging. As you may remember I made an appointment, took half a day off from work and when I arrived they told me they couldn’t get me in due to a man “not showing up” that morning.
Therefore unless someone tells me that they are…

  1. Under TOTALLY NEW management, as in everyone from the district manager down has been fired and replaced.
  2. And, the recomendee received what would equate to SUPERIOR service.

Otherwise, I will never use them again.

So that leaves me with no “reliable” source for transmission service. Read “reliable” as recommended by someone I trust. This trust, led me to call Sports and Classics to find out who they use to rebuild and service transmissions but they want first crack at it. And if it is too serious they will have the work done by another shop. I’m thinking I could save my self some time if I just go to the shop that will be doing the work in the first place. Its no reflection on them or their work, but time is important.

The transmission service for a Range Rover Classic is not fun. The transmission is a common European transmission. ZF HP24’s are used in BMW, Volvo, and Land Rovers. And as I have read, it is a very tough transmission. Being that it is tucked under a very tough Range Rover Classic it is difficult to work on. There is a frame cross member directly below the pan and to replace the filter it must be removed. This in itself makes this project a really crappy one. And as you can imagine an expensive one too.

So after a precursory call to JagGuy shake of a Magic Eight Ball browse through a phonebook look on the internet. I am going to go to Transmission Clinic on South Classen in Norman. I called them and Breck seemed very up front and said they would evaluate the situation before making any determinations. Basic service for the Taurus is going to be $110(US). And who knows how much for the Range Rover. He would give me a quote before any work was done.

Wish me luck.

Thanks for reading and Happy Rovering.