Ron Hill Blog

Effects of driving through flood water

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Recent rain on the Sunshine Coast brought a 2005 model Volvo to our workshop after it travelled through knee deep water. It ingested water into the air intake system which in turn failed the engine instantly. This is a $10,000 exercise to fit a second hand engine.
This may in time affect more sunshine coast residents that have driven through basic level floodwater.
Many cars may have experienced the same thing where the water hasn’t been ingested into the engine BUT the wiring harnesses, automatic transmission, drivelines would have ingested the water - these particular items do not fail straight away. It is three to six months later that major driving problems become evident. It is advisable to service the transmission and have your vehicle checked after driving through even the smallest amount of flood water.

What to do when: Coming out of New Car Warranty

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Car manufacturers would love for you to buy a new car every time your warranty expires. however, you may want to invest your money in property or maybe a well-deserved holiday. 

If the vehicle suits your needs and you still want to maintain the car reliability and to get the best out of it economically, why not establish a relationship with Ron Hill Auto and Transmissions - an independent vehicle repair shop? One of the many benefits is a personal interest in helping you achieve your goal of vehicle longevity. Consider introducing a six-monthly service interval instead of a drawn out 12 month schedule. Things like automatic transmission fluid changes, power steering fluid changes, brake fluid flushing, four-wheel-drive transfer case and differential oil changes, and coolant changes are likely service items, which are needed when the end of the factory warranty has arrived. 

These are often over looked due to the stretched-out minimal fixed price service structure that manufacturers have adopted. Purposely leaving these items out, which is good for short-term ownership, but not for long-term ownership. These items can be managed or budgeted for, in an order of priority to spread out the cost.

So if your looking to maintain the investment you have, contact us here at Ron Hill's to help with all your New and Near New car needs :)

Vehicle Safety

Friday, September 13, 2013

Safety features of new vehicles flooding the current market. What will they think of next?

Vehicle safety has come a long way in the last few years. The installation of airbags in new cars has become very common, and a requirement. They are not just in the dash, a number of models also have side impact and curtain airbags fitted and we are now also seeing knee airbags fitted to some models. In the event of a collision, these are automatically activated to help protect you and your passengers.

Front active headrests move forwards and upwards in the event of a rear-end collision to protect the head and neck. Front safety power windows activate the driver and front passenger windows if they sense an obstacle in their way when being raised, they automatically stop and wind down.

And now there’s braking that used to be a hard push on the pedal but these days there is so much more going on including electronic stability control and traction control systems which are designed to help you maintain control in challenging driving situations. In a sudden braking situation this keeps you on track by regulating engine torque and applying brake force to each wheel to slow you down safely. And if required wheel spin is reduced to give you greater control when accelerating on slippery or uneven road surfaces. And if you have stopped on a hill there’s hill-start assist control that stops you from rolling backwards when you have to pull away from standstill on an incline.

We have intelligent seat belt reminders in all seating positions, open door warning, lane departure warning and forward collision alert. You can even see what’s behind you when reversing with a rear-view camera that relays images to make the reverse easier and the rear parking system feature is ideal for city driving, with a parking assist system that uses sensors to warn you if you get too close to an object when parking.

With the ever changing technology of today’s vehicles gone are the days of being called a mechanic or technician, we need to be “magicians”.

4WD Modifications

Monday, November 07, 2011

We are a nation of 4WD lovers. From the humble school run to crossing the Simpson Desert.

Modifications are big wow factor these days - lift kits, bigger wheels and tyres, diff lockers and performance chips.

Any one of these modifications is a great addition to your car, and together they make the car into an awesome outback weapon!

When doing these mods there is generally a major component that is forgotton - THE EXTRA LOAD. The pressure that the drive train and automatic transmission have to deal with is huge.

Heat is the biggest killer of an automatic transmission and with extra weight it soon builds up and can become a problem.

Our team at Ron Hills have a solution - an extra oil cooler fitted in the correct spot on your 4WD will prove great results in making your transmission last longer by lowering oil temperatures. This is just one of many modifications to give your 4WD transmission a long and healthy life. We can retro fit most 4WD's on the market.

I've fitted one to my own 4WD and there is a marked difference in towing temperature in the transmission.

Stay cooler for longer with a mod from Ron Hills - Nick




Understanding your Automatic

Friday, July 15, 2011

Garage shifts

While selecting gears first thing after starting the engine, take note of the engagement time between moving the selector lever and feeling the engagement. There can be a longer delay in reverse, when compared to drive (due to the extra internal components applied and the higher oil pressure required).

An engagement time of more than 2 seconds should be checked out by a technician.

Variation in shift feel

Shifts feel different from transmission to transmission even within the same brand of vehicle. Soft and firm shifts can be acceptable and considered somewhat normal.


Watch out for a “flare” which is a partial neutral between one ratio to the next as the transmission shifts. A flare shows up as a momentary rise in engine rpm during the shift and will accelerate clutch wear if ignored and can lead to early transmission failure.

Transmission Problems

Friday, July 15, 2011
Bind up

Is an opposite to the “flare”. This is a situation where a clutch applies to change to the next gear before the currently applied clutch has released properly. This feels like a jab on the brake pedal at the time of the shift. Both a “flare” and a “bind up” are called shift faults.

Hard Shifts

When a shift (gear change) becomes hard or brutal it is another sign to speak to a transmission shop as it will send a shock through the driveline and accelerate wear in the splined areas inside the transmission such as clutch drums and torque convertor hubs. The shock then continues through the CV joints and differential. This can make driving uncomfortable.

Loss of power

We often get older cars coming in with complaints of sluggish performance. This can be a result of an electrical fault ranging from a poor wiring connection to a computer that develops leaky capacitors. Most of these computers can be repaired. The reason for the loss of power is the transmission has defaulted to a “failsafe mode” which locks the transmission in a high gear to get you home.

Why do we go on about changing oils?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Automatic Transmission is still the most complex and expensive component of your car and the lubricant (OIL) does several jobs.
1. It provides the drive medium (transmits engine torque to the wheels) eg. loose the oil and the vehicle stops.
2. It prevents wear of mechanical components.
3. It provides cooling due to the circulation through the transmission and then through the heat exchanger (transmissions develop heat).
4. It contains a high detergent to keep hydraulic circuits clean and stop sludge build up.
5. It contains a complex additive package to keep an average of 200 seals soft while working in a high temperature environment and then cooling down overnight, day after day.
6. Finally it contains an anti-foam additive to prevent oil frothing up, like a bottle of coke.

Think of the oil in your car like the blood flowing through your veins – if it’s not healthy performance will suffer.

Vehicle manufacturers in their bid to win sales have adopted a “sealed for life policy” for transmissions, which works for fleet and lease buyers, but when the transmission stops outside the warranty they now cost big bucks to repair. We are talking thousands not hundreds.
Adopting a service schedule for long term ownership makes sense to me. This is as simple as a yearly fluid change and in most cases, a filter change at the same time.

Owners can be disappointed

Friday, May 27, 2011

You would think a large truck like a Dodge Ram or a Ford F250 would be just the ticket for towing. What we see is a fairly large failure rate of the automatic transmissions in these types of vehicles at relatively low mileage.
One of the reasons is the fact that the transmissions in the above vehicles are basically "car type" transmissions that have had basic factory modifications to make them stronger. This has strengthened the transmissions but only marginally. When you add the total weight of the truck and the extra weight of a van being towed, the load that the transmission is dealing with is huge.
Also owners often add performance chips to the engine which places even greater strain on the transmission.

What can be done?

We can carry out modifications and upgrades to ensure the transmission is capable of dealing with the extra strain that towing and 4wding puts on these vehicles. Improvements include hardware upgrades such as 6 pinion (4 is standard) gear sets, increases in clutch/band capacity using different materials and more surface area, increases in critical hydraulic control pressures and volume. A billet backed stronger convertor is also recommended for heavy towing. We can fit a large additional transmission cooler that has its own thermostatically controlled electric fan. Along with a regular service schedule this will ensure extra life of the transmission.

Transmissions and Towing

Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Most transmission troubles start from overheating. 

Under heavy loads such as towing, 4WDing in sand, and continuous stop and go traffic, the transmission overheats. At higher operating temperatures the transmission fluid breaks down, losing its lubricating qualities and becomes oxidized leaving deposits inside the transmission. Exposed to the heat, the internal rubber seals and gaskets become hardened causing internal pressure loss. The pressure loss leads to clutch slipping and very quickly the transmission fails. The way to beat failures is regular fluid changes, fitting additional cooling and a considerate driving style

Did you know Toyota Prado diesels do not come fitted with a transmission cooler which is necessary for towing and 4WDing although Petrol Prados do??

The reason for the fluid overheating is the overdrive ratios are high and the transmission is unable to keep the lock up convertor clutch applied with a towing load because of the throttle opening. The problem becomes very obvious when driving up hills.The way to beat this is to pull the transmission lever down one or two gears depending on the steepness of the hill, to take the load off the transmission and so allowing the convertor clutch to engage. This will remove the “stall speed” effect which is the heat generator.Stall speed explained.Stall speed is at its maximum when the foot brake holds the vehicle stationary and the throttle is opened up fully for no more than ten seconds. This may show as much as 1,500-2,000 Rpm. This is the maximum difference between the pump connected to the engine and the turbine connected to the transmission. The difference in speed between the pump and impeller, is enclosed in a convertor full of oil, and of course is what makes the oil heat up. When the clutch inside the torque convertor can apply it stops the speed differential and the oil can cool down. This can only happen at throttle openings of 25% or less.

Remember good maintenance doesn’t cost, it pays!!

Automatic Transmission Maintenance

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Statistics show many transmissions in a large variety of vehicles including four wheel drives and European cars often fail as early as 115,000 Km from worn out valve bodies. This is the brain of your transmission which controls the clutches, which in turn controls the gear selection. In many cases this costly failure could be avoided by simple regular transmission servicing.
Automatic transmissions can be expensive to service due mostly to the cost of the synthetic fluids now prominent in late model vehicles. 

In comparison to repairing a failed transmission, a self imposed service schedule is far more cost effective.

We recommend changing synthetic transmission fluids every 40,000 Kilometers/2 years and non synthetic fluids every 20,000 Kilometers/1 year. Any 4wd vehicles that are performing towing, should adopt a 20,000kms 12 month service interval and it is also recommended that they be  fitted with a transmission cooler to avoid the transmission overheating. (If the unit is a five speed don’t be tempted to pull up grades while towing in drive as it will overheat the transmission.) Anticipate and pull the transmission out of fifth or fourth to take the load off the transmission. Adopting a regular service interval can double or triple the expected life of the transmission.
“Good maintenance doesn’t cost, it pays”

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    "Hello, I just wanted to thank you for such great service. My car, Audi A4, was serviced by your team. We were unsure of what could be wrong with the vehicle but it is running so much more smoothly and we are very happy. Reluctantly, we will now sell it to our son, but with it running so well, would prefer to keep it. You may recall me talking about this."

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    "Big shout out to Tim at Ron Hill Automatics for the help on a car before purchase, your expertise and advice were valuable and greatly appreciated."

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