Frequently Asked Questions

Can I check my transmission fluid levels? If so, how?

  • Yes you can check your transmission fluid fact, it's quite easy to do! Just follow these instructions.
  • Make sure your engine is running (unless your vehicle is a Honda). Set the transmission into "park" (or neutral with the emergency brake applied for Chrysler vehicles) and make sure the engine is at normal operating temperature.

  • Remove the dipstick, clean it with a rag or cloth, and reinsert. Check both sides to see the level - repeat several times to better guarantee accuracy. It's important to check both sides of the dipstick to prevent false readings caused by movement and circulation of the fluid within.

  • Note: If your engine has been off for an extended period, fluid used by the torque converter will have drained into the pan area (the pan area being where the level is measured), and you might end up with an artificially high level reading. Testing this level at operating temperature (except for Hondas) is an important detail because the fluid's volume expands when heated by engine activity, meaning that incorrectly low readings may result from testing an inactive engine.

  • Give newly added fluid a few minutes in your running engine before measuring again. This allows it to distribute and function appropriately, and your readings may be inaccurate in the meantime. Driving for a mile or two after adding fluid is a good way to adjust for this.

  • Keep in mind that if your fluid level is low, your transmission likely has a leak...transmissions do not normally consume this fluid!

What does it mean when you "scan" my transmission?

  • A scanner is, essentially, a computer which communicates with the computer inside of any computer-controlled transmission. It requests, receives, and translates the warning and error codes which your vehicle's transmission computer has recorded, allowing our scanner to understand and describe your transmission's problems to us.

  • While an exceptionally useful piece of modern equipment, the scanner is not always accurate. False error messages, problems with the transmission computer, and errors which go undetected exist. However, a scanner is an incredibly valuable tool that, when used together with an expert technician's visual evaluation, can help determine exactly what problems your broken transmission is experiencing.

How expensive is it to repair a transmission fluid leak?

  • Determining the source of the transmission leak is the most important part of determining the repair cost involved. Just because transmission fluid is dripping off the bottom doesn't mean this is the source of the leak - the fluid could easily be coming from the top and running down the sides and around the pan. A thorough inspection by a trained technician is extremely valuable in evaluating the true source of the leak. A transmission can leak from a broad variety of locations, such as the:
    • Pump
    • Shift lever seal(s)
    • Kickdown seal
    • Electrical connection(s)
    • Governor cover
    • Speedometer
    • Rear output seal or axle seals
    • Servo cover(s)
    • Filler tube
    • Throttle cable
    • Pan
    • Side cover
    • Cooler lines
    • Differential cover
  • The real question is: What is the source, or sources of the leak. Most people can only see the bottom of the unit, and therefore conclude that the bottom pan gasket is leaking when, in reality, the leak is from above and running down and around the pan. Therefore, it is imperative that the unit be visually inspected to evaluate the leak situation! Without a visual check, it's nearly impossible to accurately find the source of the leak.

What is the cost of overhauling/repairing my transmission?

  • The vehicle's make, model, and circumstance all need to be taken into account when determining the cost of a transmission overhaul or repair.

  • Make sure your vehicle has been evaluated thoroughly - a broken transmission is not always the source of abnormal operation. An expert diagnosis is the best way to ensure that your engine gets the attention it deserves, and is the best way to get an accurate cost estimate.

What is the average lifespan of an automatic transmission?

  • Automatic transmissions don't have an "average" operating life - this is highly dependent on the make, model, and the stresses which it is put through by its user(s). However, we do know that most modern automatic transmissions, if treated properly, generally last for at least 100,000 miles.

  • Regular service, appropriate fluid levels, and reasonable driving techniques are the best way to ensure that your automatic transmission lasts as long as it can.

Can I safely drive my vehicle, even if the transmission is leaking?

  • Each transmission leak is different, and the safety risks involved have to do with the rate of fluid loss which your transmission is experiencing. Make sure to check and replace your transmission fluid as often as necessary, and get your vehicle to a technician at your earliest convenience.

  • The average transmission can lose up to a quart of transmission fluid before experiencing any serious damage - after this, serious internal damage can occur and cause serious transmission malfunctions.

  • The most important thing to keep in mind is: don't delay in getting your transmission inspected. Putting off an inspection can result in permanent damage and expensive repair bill from what should have been a simple fix.

How do you diagnose my transmission problems? Is there a process?

  • Yes. First we check your vehicle's electronic and mechanical components to make sure the transmission is the source of the problem.

  • If your problem is diagnosed as an internal transmission issues, we evaluate as to whether a rebuild or a repair would best address your issue. Repairs are often the best way to go, and a simple repair can often restore your transmission to its previous level of operation and durability.

  • If a rebuild is the best option for your transmission, we offer a large number and variety of in-house remanufactured transmissions which are relatively inexpensive, fairly quick to install, and are covered by our comprehensive and attractive Willow Creek Warranty.

My computer controlled transmission is acting up. What can I do?

Transmission issues coming from computer-controlled transmissions can often mean a problem with one of your transmission's computer sensors electrical connections, or the system ground. By attaching your engine to one of our state of the art scanners, we can "read" your transmission computer codes stored in the computer and detect whether the transmission or its computer systems are at fault.

What are transmission soft parts? What are transmission hard parts?

  • A transmission's soft parts include things such as:
    • Clutches
    • Bands
    • Overhaul kits
    • Filters
    • Internal sealing rings
    • Bushings
    • External seals
    • Gaskets
    Transmission soft parts always need repair during an overhaul.
  • Transmission "hard parts" are considered more a part of its vital housing, and include the:
    • pump
    • clutch drum
    • planetary gear set
    The condition of these hard parts is impossible to determine without disassembling the engine, meaning that a 100% accurate pre-disassembly estimate of the transmission's repair costs is impossible to make.

Can you tell me more about computer-controlled transmissions?

  • Computer controlled transmissions are regulated by a computer which maintains shift and pressure control solenoids inside the transmission. These computers also have sensors which receive, interpret, and store various error signals in your transmission. However, these sensors are not 100% accurate due to misreadings, electrical errors, or undetectable errors, and thus a manual diagnosis is handy along with a transmission "scan".

  • These sensors can usually be found in a standard computer-controlled transmission:
    • MPLS (Manual Linkage Position Sensor)
    • input and output speed sensors
    • shift solenoids
    • governor sensor

  • NOTE: The TPS (Throttle Position Sensor) MAS (Mass Airflow Sensor), MAP (Manifold Absolute Pressure sensor), PCM (Power Control Module or Computer), DSS (Differential Speed Sensor), CTS (Coolant Temperature Sensor), IAT (Intake Air Temperature) are also computer sensors, but not necessarily part of your transmission system.

  • Parts stores offer scanning services, but these alone are not enough to diagnose an electrical control problem. Many electrical control problems cannot be read by the computer correctly, but can still lead to serious transmission problems if left unattended.

  • Diagnostic tests done by Willow Creek technicians can determine if the problem is in the transmission, the computer control system, or both.

  • Willow Creek Transmissions feels that it is much better to evaluate the situation "hands-on" than to speculate over the phone. Over the years, our experiences have shown us that no conclusion should be made before seeing a vehicle since it will most likely change after it is inspected and the entire situation is diagnosed in the shop.

Willow Creek Transmissions
3141 N. Williamsburg Co Hwy
Cades, SC 29518
p: 843-389-7788 | 843-250-0565
f: 843-389-0878