How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off

Did you know that most consumer complaints about small business are in the auto repair industry? Probably not a surprise, right?  If you haven't had a bad experience with a mechanic, then chances are you know someone that has.  There's several ways a shop can try ripping you off.  It's an industry that has a few bad apples that tarnish the reputation of mechanics in general.

Peoples Transmission is here to help.  We not only find reputable and qualified transmission repair shops, we will help you make important decisions about your vehicle's transmission repair .  Don't trust or don't understand what the mechanic is telling you?  Give us a call at 1-888-415-2098 or contact us at  You can also leave us a comment on this blog for immediate contact.

Get Automotive Help Quick Using Twitter and Facebook

Cars can be cruel.  They will be your best friend when you need a ride, a good wing man/woman while out on a date, and help you relax while listening to your favorite song, zipping past the countryside......then BAM!  You're stuck on the side of the road with a car that won't even talk to you!  You beg your vehicle to come back, but it wants nothing to do with you now. 

Where do you turn?  Who do you call for help?  A repair shop?  Which one?  Tow service, AAA, dad, husband, brother, cousin, uncle.......AARGH!  "I'm just going to send out a tweet then think about it.", you say to yourself.  s-t-u-c-k   o-n   t-h-e   s-i-d-e   o-f   t-h-e   r-o-a-d   w-i-t-h   a   b-r-o-k-e   a-*-*   t-r-a-n-s-m-i-s-s-i-o-n, is posted on twitter and possibly your Facebook, using your phone.  Now you start working on getting a tow truck or at the least, a ride to where you were going.  Within a few minutes, your phone is beeping with alerts from your friends and possibly people you have never talked to, offering help.  How did that happen?

Bookmark Peoples
Transmission in Your
Smart Phone

It happened because you not only set up your social media accounts to keep in contact with your friends and family, you have your social media presence ready to go with contacts  that can help you when your car breaks down.  Just this last weekend, I helped three people in need  with their vehicle's transmission through Twitter.  These people simply put an @peoplestrans in front of their 127 letter message about their transmission problem.  Within a few minutes, they had someone talking to them about what to do next.  @ is a teacher of sign language for children.  She was just venting about her Volvo transmission on a Saturday afternoon when I saw her tweet.  Within minutes, she had someone to talk to about her transmission troubles.  @UFCfanWI needed some instructions for checking the fluid on one of his customer's Ford Explorer.  He had the info in no time!  (@UFCfanWI sells auto parts in Onalaska, WI)
Another tweeter (who wishes to stay anonymous) received help with his Volkswagon Jetta while stuck on the side of the road in Chicago.  Peoples Transmission had his car waiting at a qualified shop, first thing this morning.

Even without directly contacting @peoplestrans, just sending a tweet to your followers about transmissions can lead you to someone that wants to help you get back on the road.  The same goes for Facebook.  Adding a service like Peoples Transmission's Facebook page can make it easier for you to get help when the time finally does come with the death of your transmission.

P1811 - Maximum Adapt and Long Shift Mode Chevy, Pontiac, Saturn, and Buick Front Wheel Drive Vehicles

The P1811 code is one of the most common codes for transmissions in 1997-on GM front wheel drive vehicles. Symptoms of this code include a check engine light illuminated and harsh shifting. Cycling the key on and off may cure the harsh shifting until the criteria for the code is met once more. We are going to cover what causes the code to set and repair options.

Code Criteria
If a shift into any gear other than reverse and forward engagements takes longer than 0.65 seconds to complete, code P1811 will set. The Powertrain Control Module will then command maximum line pressure inside of the transmission, resulting in harsh shifting. The PCM will also command the check engine light or service engine soon light to be illuminated when P1811 is set. Basically, the PCM is sensing a slip, and is increasing line pressure to maximum in order to prevent the transmission from hurting itself further.

Repair Options
In 2002, GM release a technical bulletin for the P1811 code.  See the bulletin by clicking this link  The bulletin states that a mechanical problem in the Pressure Control (PC) solenoid, contamination in the valve body, or incorrect fluid level can cause the P1811 to set.  Those problems could definitely cause a P1811, but what they failed to mention in the bulletin is, what exactly is the PCM looking for when setting P1811.  It's looking for a slip of 0.65 seconds or longer to set the code.  See  So it's not as cut and dry as the bulletin makes it to be.  A burnt clutch pack, stripped overdrive clutch hub, worn accumulators, worn valving especially the actuator feed limit valve, and just high mileage can all cause this code to rear its ugly head.  All of which would require transmission disassembly to repair.  Now I'm not saying that P1811 is going to require a major transmission overhaul every time a vehicle comes into the shop with the code.  I'm saying that it is not always going to be as simple as just changing out a solenoid.
How to Know if a Solenoid will Repair the Problem
It is impossible to know for sure what the internal shape of a transmission is while the transmission is still in the car.  The first thing to check is the transmission fluid.  If the fluid level is low, add automatic transmission fluid (ATF) until full.  Remember that transmission fluid needs to be checked while the engine is warm and running with the shifter in the Park position.  After the fluid level is OK, drive the vehicle to your nearest People's Transmission certified shop to have it checked.  If the fluid level was low, there is a leak somewhere that has to be repaired.  The shop will then test drive the vehicle while monitoring data on a scanner that is communication with your vehicle's PCM.  After that, the shop will most likely recommend a pan drop to see if any contamination is being produced inside of the transmission.  If contamination in the form of clutch material or metal is present, then a solenoid replacement will be a waste of money.  If the pan is clean, fluid is in decent shape, and the mileage is below 80,000 miles or so, then maybe a solenoid will fix the problem.  The thing to remember is, if the shop recommends a solenoid, then they are looking out for your best interests.  It still may not fix the problem, but from what they have seen during their checkout, a solenoid replacement is worth the gamble.  If the shop recommends a transmission overhaul, ask them what they found that makes them think that is the only option.  Don't like what they tell you?  Then call The Transmission Guy at Peoples Transmission. 1-888-415-2098

Recall for 2005-2008 Toyota Corrola and Matrix Vehicles, Pontiac Vibe

I just recently received a call from a customer in Dallas, Texas.  She was concerned with a letter she received in the mail from Toyota about her 2007 Toyota Corolla.  The letter was informing her that a safety recall is requiring the vehicle's Engine Control Module (ECM) to be replaced.  The ECM's have a defect and could cause the engine to suddenly stall while driving. (Click on this link to see a copy of the letter:  Her main concern was, approximately one year before she received this notice, the ECM was replaced by a local garage for a P2716 (Pressure Control Solenoid D Circuit) Code.

Her main questions were:

1. Does the ECM that was installed a year prior still have a problem?

2. She paid over $1,000 to have the ECM installed last year.  How can she be compensated for that repair that is now covered under this recall?

Two valid questions, especially since the ECM was replaced based on a bulletin that Toyota released in September of 2007 for the P2716 code. (Click on this link to see a copy of the factory bulletin:

To answer question 1, I don't know yet.  The only way to know if an updated ECM was installed is to see the actual factory recall notice the Toyota technicians have.  Being the recall is so new, the factory bulletin is not yet available to the aftermarket.  I'm going to set out some feelers to see if I can get a hold of it.  On that bulletin, there should be some part numbers that will tell the technician if the existing ECM is one of the effected models.

Question number 2, the following is a copy from the factory letter:

6. Is the repair covered by warranty?  Will I have to pay any money out of pocket for this repair?
This repair will be performed at no charge to the customer. Owners who have previously paid for replacement of the ECM to address this specific condition should refer to their owner letter for reimbursement consideration instructions.
Key words here: "reimbursement consideration".  Only time will tell how Toyota is going to deal with this. 
Here's another twist: The 2005-2008 Pontiac Vibes were built by Toyota and have the same drivetrain as the Corolla and Matrix. reports Toyota recalling the Vibes for the same problem with stalling.  These vehicles also had the same problem with the ECM's causing the P2716 code, but Pontiac never released a technical bulletin for the issue.  Being there was only 161,754 Vibes built with the issue compared with over 1.3 million Corollas and Matrix vehicles, GM just didn't see it as a big enough issue.
Please comment the blog or contact me at if you have any incite on this issue.

Can Servicing a Transmission that has not been Maintained Cause it to Fail Prematurely?

This question was sent in from a customer out of Grapevine, Texas:


I have a 1999 expedition with the 5.4L engine. I am on the second transmission. The First transmission was replaced at 100,000 miles and had a trans cooler installed at that time. The truck now has 209,000 (109,000 on 2nd trannie). I don't remember if I have had the fluid serviced in the last 100,000 miles. The local garage will not service the transmission, claiming that since it has gone so long without a service, the junk floating around is keeping the transmission together and that I would have a transmission failure if I replace the fluid and filter. Does this sound right to you?? Should I service the transmission??

Forgetful Joe

This was my response:

Hi Joe,

There is some truth about a service causing damage to a transmission that has not been maintained properly. However, I don't think it will be an issue with your transmission. I would recommend a standard pan drop service so that we can see what kind of debris are in the transmission. Hopefully, we'll find a normal amount of material in the pan, change the filter and fluid, and give you back a sense of security when it comes to the transmission in your Expedition.

The myth of the old fluid keeping the transmission together was more true years back. Automatic transmission fluid (ATF) has high amounts of additives and detergents to help keep all of the small parts moving freely. 20 Years ago, the glue used to bond the paper clutch material to the steel plates was not as good as today's bonding agents. What would happen is, the old transmission fluid would break the glue down if not serviced regularly, then when the new high detergent fluid was pored in, it would literally wash the clutch material off of the steel plates. Better fluids and better parts have made it much safer to service transmissions that have been neglected. 109,000 miles out of a rebuild is great, considering it didn't last that long when it was new. The cooler that you had installed is most likely the reason for it's long, trouble free life.

The service that can damage the transmission at this point is a flush. A flush is a common technique for cleaner servicing of transmissions and to replace all of the fluid in the transmission and torque converter. The problem with the flush is, it can stir up the normal amount of materials that transmissions produce over life, and send that material into delicate moving parts of the transmission. This can result in abnormal shifting, check engine lights, and possibly catastrophic failure.

I also suggest we find a transmission specialist to perform your service. They'll know what to look for when servicing your transmission just in case there is a problem forming. I have a few shops in your area that are being evaluated for Peoples Certification. I will contact you with their information first thing in the morning.

I look forward to talking with you more.

Jon Rodriguez
Peoples Transmission

How Transmissions are Made.

This is a great five minute breakdown on how a transmission works.  The transmission shown in the clip is called a 4T45E.  The 4T45E comes in several, light duty GM and Saturn, front wheel drive passenger cars. 

The factory assembly of the unit as seen here, is the only time that the transmission will be new.  Even if the transmission fails under warranty, the dealerships will either repair the existing transmission in the vehicle, or swap it out with a factory remanufactured transmission.  Remanufactured transmissions, commonly called remans, are built just as they would be in a Peoples Transmission Certified shop.  The transmission is removed from the vehicle, dismantled completely (even more than what this video shows), damaged or worn parts are replaced with new, rebuilt, or used parts, cleaned, then reassembled. 

Mo's Magnet

Our previous posting talked about servicing Honda transmissions.  Honda recommended that aftermarket flushing machines not be used on their vehicles.  What's the alternative?  Simply unscrew a drain plug at the bottom of the transmission.  That will let out about a third of the fluid which is all that's needs to be changed if done at the correct service intervals.  In the case of Mo, she had not serviced her Honda in 130,000 miles!  Did that hurt her transmission?  It definitely knocked some life out of it, but lucky for her, it's still OK.  The magnet on her drain plug had a normal amount of material on it (see picture) and the transmission seemed to shift fine.  We're going to have her come in after a few thousand miles to do another drain and fill which will help get some more of that old fluid out and help make sure that her transmission is in working order.

Need help with your transmission?  Leave us a message here on the blog, our Facebook page on the comment tag, or on our website

Honda of North America Recommends NOT Flushing Honda Transmissions

Yes, Honda is against the flushing of their transmissions using flushing machines.  This comes as a big surprise to a lot of people being that transmission flushing is such a popular service offered by transmission repair, general automotive and express lube shops.  Below is copied text from two Honda factory bulletins.  These bulletins are given to Honda technicians as guidelines when servicing Honda vehicles at the dealerships.  These bulletins are also provided to general automotive and Peoples Transmission Certified Shops that use proper repair software.  This is why Peoples Transmission makes sure that the repair shops that we certify are up to date with training, so that you can be assured that procedures offered for your vehicle won't affect warranties or damage your vehicle.

The second bulletin offers a procedure to "flush" the transmission without the use of aftermarket flushing tools.

Consult your owners manual or contact Peoples Transmission to find out when you should service your vehicle.

Here is the first bulletin titled: Flush Systems: A Big Taboo


Reference Number(s): HSN0206-07, Date of Issue: February 1, 2006
HONDA: All Models
CATEGORY: Honda Service News
Related Ref Number(s): HSN0206-07


In Honda vehicles, the transmission, as well as the systems that handle lubrication, cooling, fuel,
and power steering, are designed to give thousands of miles of trouble-free service if you follow
the maintenance schedule to the letter.
Flush systems are a popular aftermarket offering these days. These products look impressive and
make lots of claims, but American Honda strongly recommends you avoid using them on any
Honda vehicle. Here's why:
The maintenance schedule neither requires nor approves of aftermarket • flush systems.
• Flush systems take time to do; this adds to your service customer's wait time.
• Flush systems haven't demonstrated an improvement in vehicle performance or reliability.
Flush systems using solvents may leave solvent in the system you're flushing. This will
dilute the fluid or lubricant and degrade its performance.
Flush systems using filters can filter out vital additives and degrade the fluid's or lubricant's
performance. This is particularly true for coolant.
• Any damage caused by flush systems isn't covered by warranty.

Here is a copy of the second bulletin titled: Check Out the Latest Word on A/T Flushing Service News

not listed in the S/Ms, and ifThe term "flushin" refers to repeatedly draining and refilling the2,500 rpm .won't shift past 2nd gear, keep the engine speed at 2,500 rpm and shiftfour more times .two more times .

Reference Number(s): 08010A, Date of Issue: January 1, 2008
Affected Models:General Information
Related Ref Number(s): 08010A


Some A/T repair procedures call for flushing the trans using Honda Genuine ATF-Z1 (and no
substitutes). Problem is, where do you find the info to do that? It's
you do an ISIS search, you'll find a few ServiceNews articles on this subject, but they're rather
dated, and none of them say the same thing. Even the most recent one (see "Revised A/T Flushing
Procedure" in the December '00 issue) still mentions that old work horse-the PGM Tester-which
we stopped supporting when the HDS first came on the scene.

trans with Honda Genuine ATF-Z1. Don't confuse it with aftermarket
flush systems. American Honda still strongly recommends that you
avoid using them on any Honda vehicle.

The original procedure was written for simpler A/Ts that readily upshifted when you ran the
vehicle on a lift. But A/Ts have come a long way since then, and most of the newer ones balk at
shifting past 2nd gear when on a lift, unless you work the shift lever a certain way.
In light of all this, we thought it was high time that the A/T flushing procedure got a facelift. So
here's the latest word on flushing that works for all A/Ts:
Set the parking brake, and raise the 1. vehicle on a lift.
Drain the trans, and refill it with Honda Genuine ATF-Z1. Refer to the applicable S/M or to
ISIS for details.
3. Start the engine, shift into Drive, and release the parking brake.
4. Push down on the accelerator pedal to raise the vehicle speed to
• If the trans shifts past 2nd gear, go to step 5.
If the trans
from Drive to Neutral and back to Drive. Then go to step 5.
Make sure that the trans shifts through all the forward gears and goes into torque converter
Let off the accelerator pedal, and press the brake pedal to drop the vehicle speed to zero.
Shift into Reverse and then into Neutral.
7. Shift into Drive, and repeat steps 4 thru 6
8. Set the parking brake, and repeat steps 2 thru 6
10. Refill the A/T with ATF-Z1.

Peoples Transmission is in Business!

The day is finally here!  I have been working with industry experts, friends and family, and everyday consumers for months to put Peoples Transmission together.  What is my main goal?  To find honest mechanics for honest people. 

The automotive repair industry has earned a rough reputation amongst consumers because of dishonest mechanics.  Studies show that you can avoid being ripped off by a mechanic by educating yourself about the job the shop is trying to sell you.  But with the complexity of today's vehicles, especially transmissions, it's very difficult to educate yourself at a level that will give you confidence in who you are choosing to pay for your vehicle's repairs.  That's where Peoples Transmission comes in.  Peoples Transmission pre-screens all of the shops we recommend to make sure your money is spent wisely towards transmission repairs at no cost to you.

Go to Peoples Transmission right now and talk to me, Jon, about finding a quality transmission technician in your area today.

Peoples Transmission

Peoples Transmission is dedicated to help consumers find a competent, well equipped, and most importantly, honest transmission specialist to perform transmission repairs to their vehicles.

Today’s vehicles are complicated; strict emissions standards, driver comforts and cost savings have tremendously increased the complexity of vehicles when it comes to transmission repairs.  Peoples Transmissions will take the guesswork out of finding a qualified transmission specialist in your area so that you can get your vehicle back on the road with a sense of security.

Jon Rodriguez has been in the transmission repair industry since 1994.  Jon started as an entry level technician, and moved his way up in the industry as a rebuilder, diagnostician, shop foreman, office manager, and most recently, worked with the Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association (ATRA) as a technical advisor.  Jon has written several articles for Gears magazine and earned a gold and silver medal for two of his articles from the National Automotive Media Awards.  His experience and notoriety within the transmission industry gives Peoples Transmission the connections needed to make sure customers will find the right shop for their transmission repair needs.