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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Understanding Powertrain Diagnostics… by Ken Cooke

As a driver, your input is essential to accurately diagnose powertrain failures, especially when the truck is no longer drivable. It is very important that you note exactly when the problem occurs. Does the problem happen when you shift the lever or on an air shift? When traveling straight or only in a corner? Do you hear a noise or feel a vibration? Is it worse in direct or overdrive? The more information you can gather, the easier it will be for the technician to accurately diagnose the powertrain failure.

Next, you need to decide if the problem warrants a tow truck or can the truck still be driven without causing additional damage. In most cases if you suddenly hear a noise or feel a vibration the best advice would be to tow the truck into a repair shop.

Now, you have to decide which shop to tow your truck to. Choose a shop with a good reputation and lots of experience. If your problem is minor like an air leak, seal leak or universal joint problems, you may choose to go to your general repair mechanic. However, if your problems are more serious like synchronizer grinding, transmission jumping out of gear or no drive into the rear differential, your best bet would be to go to a shop that specializes in transmission, differential, clutch and driveline repair. Shops that specialize in powertrain diagnostics have the skills to correctly diagnose the problem, especially electronic issues with the newer electronic auto shift transmissions.

The first thing the shop will do is diagnose the failure. There are six major powertrain components to diagnose, the clutch, the front section and auxiliary sections of the transmission, the driveline, the front differential and the rear differential. These are the step that a technician with years of experience will excel. Often, lesser skilled technicians will misdiagnose the failure, causing the customer added expense and downtime. After the failure has been diagnosed the next step is to establish the cause of the failure so that the same problem will not happen again after the failed component has been repaired or replaced with an exchange unit. This very important step is often overlooked by less experienced shops.

With the diagnoses complete, the next decision will be to repair, rebuild or replace your failed powertrain component. At this point your powertrain specialist will be able to give you a few different options. If your problem was only synchronizer related you may choose to repair the auxiliary section of your transmission however, if the problem is in the front section you will have to choose between fixing the problem, rebuilding the entire transmission or installing a remanufactured exchange unit. If your problem is in one of the differentials you may choose to install a new factory unit. New 40,000 lbs. differentials can be sold for close to the same price as rebuilding the old one.

For the best service and price take your truck to an experienced powertrain rebuilder that you can trust to diagnose and repair your truck properly the first time, while finding the root cause of your problems so that the same failure will not occur again.

Coastline Transmission & Differentials specializes in truck powertrain diagnoses, repair and rebuilding with hundreds of new and rebuilt components in stock. For more powertrain related information call Coastline Transmission at 604-533-4651 or toll free at 1-888-686-4327.