Transmission Repair and Replacement, Harrisonburg

When was the last time you had the transmission in your vehicle serviced?

For many people the transmission in their car is something they don’t think about until it quits shifting properly or until their transmission completely fails leaving them stranded. All transmissions whether automatic, manual, or Continuously Variable Transmissions (CVT), use special fluids to lubricate and cool the transmission. In automatic transmissions the fluid is also used to control and power the transmission.   These fluids must meet very stringent specifications in order for the transmission to operate properly and provide a long life for the components in the transmission.

While transmission fluid is not exposed to the contaminations of combustion like engine oil is, it does break down over time with heat and shear forces being the main contributing factors. It also can become contaminated with small metal wear particles or clutch material from inside the transmission.   Some transmissions have filters and/or magnets to help keep these wear particles from moving through the transmission and causing damage. In any case the fluids and filters in a transmission need to be changed as a preventative measure to ensure long life and proper operation over the life of the vehicle.

Some vehicle manufacturers claim that their transmissions never need service or they recommend an extended service interval of 100,000 miles or more.   It is our experience that these manufacturers enjoy selling you transmissions and new cars more than they enjoy seeing your transmission last for hundreds of thousands of miles.   Most transmissions will benefit from a more regular maintenance program and your wallet will benefit too! A couple hundred dollars in transmission service is far preferable to many thousands of dollars for a transmission replacement.

It is our recommendation that most people should have their automatic and CVT transmissions serviced or at least checked every 30,000 miles.   For manual transmissions that have fewer demands on the fluid it is probably safe to extend that out to 50,000 or even 100,000 miles in some cases.

At Mountain Valley Motors we use high quality synthetic transmission fluids and gear oils. We stock a wide variety of fluids and filters for specific applications. We can check your transmission and make recommendations about proper service intervals based on how you use your vehicle.

Timing Belt Replacement, Harrisonburg

When To Check Your Timing Belt & Chains

An often overlooked maintenance item on vehicles is the replacement of engine timing components on vehicles. Some vehicles are equipped with timing belts to drive the camshafts of the engine. Others have timing chains to accomplish the same purpose. The advantage of timing belts is that they run very quietly and efficiently under a wide variety of conditions. They are also easier to service and maintain. The disadvantage is that they require more regular replacement than timing chains. Most modern vehicle manufacturers who use timing belts have recommended replacement intervals of somewhere between 60,000 and 120,000 miles and between 7 and 10 years.   Most timing chains are designed to not need preventative replacement for the life of the engine. However if a timing chain does fail the cost to repair it are much higher than the costs to replace a timing belt.

When either a timing belt or timing chain fails, the results can be catastrophic in terms of engine damage. If the camshafts and the crankshaft get out of time with each other, the valves can collide with the pistons causing very expensive damage to the engine. This is the reason why you don’t want to neglect or take shortcuts with your timing belt service. It is also recommended that you replace related components that run on the timing belt such as tensioners, pulleys, and water pumps.

Timing chains do not usually require regular scheduled replacement, but it is important to change your engine oil regularly as that is what lubricates the chain and pressurizes the tensioners on the chain. If your oil gets too thick or contaminated it can cause premature timing chain failure.   Also, warning signs of impending timing chain failure such as a clattering noise on start up or a rattle in the front of the engine while it is running should not be ignored.

At Mountain Valley Motors, we can advise you regarding the factory recommended replacement intervals for your vehicle. We also use only the highest quality belts and components from manufacturers like Dayco, Continental, and Gates.

How often should I change my oil?

One of the most common questions that we get asked is how often an oil change should be scheduled for a car. The answer is – it depends.

The first answer that many people are given is what their father or grandfather told them. “Of course you should change your oil every 3,000 miles.” The second most common answer, and usually a better answer is “Whatever the manufacturer recommends.” But that still doesn’t completely answer the question. Car manufacturer’s recommendations for oil change intervals (OCI) are often confusing and sometimes misleading. Manufacturer recommended intervals for an oil change range anywhere from 3,000 miles to over 15,000 miles for vehicles sold in the United States and so we are still back to “it depends.” Furthermore, manufacturers usually have a couple different recommended intervals based on how the vehicle is used and what environmental conditions it is driven in. And sometimes the manufacturer’s recommendations simply do not provide adequate protection for your vehicle in the real world.

Another variable that comes into play is the type or quality of oil and filter used. Not all oil and filters are created equal. Some are more satisfactory for longer OCI’s than others.

As you can see, there is no real simple answer to the question that we posed in the beginning. So what should you do? A properly maintained vehicle will cost less to operate over the long haul and have fewer breakdowns and unexpected failures. The experienced staff at Mountain Valley Motors will be happy to assist you in developing a customized preventative maintenance plan for your vehicle based on your driving habits and environment. We have the experience and knowledge to help you make informed decision about how best to care for your car. Call us today!