Service the Automatic Transmission Every 30,000 Miles to Avoid the Following Problems

1 Mar

Service the Automatic Transmission Every 30,000 Miles to Avoid the Following Problems

It is an excellent idea to have the automatic transmission serviced every 30,000 miles. This gives our certified technicians at DOC Auto a chance to see if there is anything wrong, such as low fluid levels or leaking seals. The following issues are signs that your automatic transmission is going bad.

Problems Shifting the Gears

If the transmission has not been taken care of, it will start to malfunction over time. It will have difficulties shifting through the gear cycle, and it may slip out of gear. There may be a significant amount of hesitation to shift the gears, as well. All of these things point to the need for a transmission inspection as soon as possible to avoid further damage.

An Overheating Transmission

Your transmission might also overheat if the transmission fluid level is too low. One way to prevent this from happening is to have the transmission flushed and refilled every 30,000 miles. This ensures that you always have fresh fluid in the transmission.

Odd Transmission Noises

Your transmission may also start to make strange noises if it needs to be repaired. For example, it may “clunk” into gear, squeal, grind when it shifts the gears, or hum when it is in neutral. These are all signs that the transmission needs immediate attention.

Transmission Fluid Leaks

As we mentioned above, your automatic transmission can overheat if the fluid level gets too low. One thing that will reduce the fluid level is a transmission fluid leak. Transmission fluid can leak out of the torque converter, the hoses, and the pan gasket among other parts.

Rough Gear Shifts

Your transmission may also shift the gears roughly if the fluid is too low or it is going bad. Your vehicle will shake or vibrate every time the transmission shifts the gears. Bring your vehicle to our shop right away if this is happening.

Unresponsive Transmission

If you ignore the above signs of transmission problems, you may end up with a transmission that becomes completely unresponsive. You will not be able to get your vehicle to go into gear, and the transmission will not shift gears.

Dashboard Warning Light

Finally, all of these things may be accompanied by an illuminated check engine light on the dashboard. This is an indication that there is something wrong with the engine. In this case, the problem lies with the transmission.

DOC Auto in Fredericksburg, VA, is happy to inspect your transmission if it is acting strange. Call us today for a service appointment.

1 Feb

The Following Might Happen When the Thermostat Goes Bad

If you drive a car, truck, or utility vehicle that is 10 years old or older, the thermostat is likely to go bad sooner rather than later. DOC Auto is going to list the signs of a faulty thermostat below. You may experience all of these signs or just a couple of them. Either way, it’s important to bring your vehicle to our shop as soon as possible to prevent your engine from overheating constantly. This will happen if the thermostat is no longer functioning properly.

Minor Coolant Leak

Older thermostats can spring minor leaks that leave them corroded. Usually, what happens is that the valve that opens and closes to release the coolant into the engine gets stuck in the closed position. The coolant will seep out of the closed valve and pool around the thermostat. The wet coolant will begin to rust the thermostat and eat away at the metal. Unfortunately, you may not realize you have a minor coolant leak unless you inspect your thermostat regularly to make sure it is not corroding.

Major Coolant Leak

You will know that you have a major coolant leak because it will leave coolant on your garage floor. Engine coolant comes in many different colors, including green, red, yellow, and orange. You can check the color of your engine coolant when the engine is cold. If you have spots or puddles of the same color on the garage floor, it’s possible that the thermostat has sprung quite a leak. You will need to replace the thermostat as soon as possible to restore the coolant levels in the cooling system.

Erratic Temperatures

Aside from leaking, car thermostats can also malfunction and when they do, the temperature gauge on your dashboard will move up and down. This is a sign that the thermostat is no longer able to release the coolant into the engine when the engine needs it. It’s possible that the thermostat is not reading the engine’s temperature correctly or the valve is malfunctioning. Either way, your temperatures will fluctuate between hot and cold while you drive your automobile.

Constant Overheating

Finally, if your engine is overheating constantly, this is a sign that it is not getting any coolant. It’s possible that the thermostat has died and is not releasing coolant into the engine. It is also possible that the coolant levels are too low because of the thermostat leaks discussed above.

DOC Auto is the best auto service shop in Fredericksburg, VA, so call us today to schedule an appointment for your automobile if you suspect the thermostat has gone bad.

1 Jan

Malfunctioning Car Water Pump Symptoms

Your car, truck, or utility vehicle relies on the water pump to circulate coolant through the engine to keep the temperature below 220 degrees Fahrenheit. The thermostat releases the coolant when the engine starts to get too hot, and the water pump pushes it throughout the engine to draw heat away from it. DOC Auto can replace your water pump when it needs it. The average lifespan of a car water pump is 100,000 miles. Here are symptoms that your water pump is malfunctioning and needs to be replaced.

Leaking Engine Coolant

An old water pump will begin to leak engine coolant from its seals. You will end up with coolant spots on your garage floor underneath your engine in the front. Any time your engine leaks coolant, it reduces the levels and you run the risk of overheating the engine if you operate your automobile. It’s important to have the water pump replaced right away if it is leaking engine coolant.

Corroded Water Pump

Unfortunately, you may not realize that your water pump is leaking if you don’t see spots on the garage floor. The water pump can also spring a minor leak that creates corrosion around the pump. The leak isn’t bad enough to drip coolant onto the garage floor but it will pool around the water pump and damage it. Aside from corrosion, you may also see tiny holes or pits on the pump.

Whining Engine Noises

Another thing that can affect the water pump’s performance is a problem with your vehicle’s accessory belt. The water pump is attached to this belt to receive power. If you hear whining noises coming from your engine, it’s possible that the accessory belt is too loose, and, as a consequence, the water pump is not receiving enough power to circulate the coolant through the engine.

Lack of Coolant Circulation

This is just one thing that will cause a lack of coolant circulation. A malfunctioning water pump may also struggle to circulate coolant through the engine on its own. Without coolant circulating through the engine, there is no hope to keep the engine temperature under 220 degrees.

Constant Overheating

Naturally, without coolant, your engine will overheat. In fact, if your water pump needs to be replaced, the engine will overheat every time you drive your automobile. It’s important to understand that driving a vehicle when the engine is too hot can severely damage the engine.

Call DOC Auto in Fredericksburg, VA, today if you suspect your water pump is faulty. We will inspect the pump and replace it if necessary.

1 Dec

Six Signs Your Car Needs a New Fuel Pump

It takes a pump to draw the gasoline or diesel fuel out of the tank. This pump is the fuel pump, and it also moves the fuel into the engine. On average, the factory fuel pump installed in your car, truck, or utility vehicle will last about 100,000 miles. Doc Auto advises once you’ve reached this amazing milestone, you may start to experience some of the problems listed below. These are signs that your vehicle’s fuel pump has gone bad and it’s time for a new one.

1. A Dead Engine

If the fuel pump is no longer operational, your engine is not getting any fuel. Consequently, the engine will be dead because it is completely fuel-starved. A malfunctioning fuel pump can also push too much fuel into the engine and flood it. This, too, will make starting your automobile difficult.

2. A Sputtering Engine

Before you end up with a dead engine, however, you may notice that your engine sputters when you are driving at high speeds. This is an indication that the engine is not getting the additional fuel it needs to maintain the higher speeds, i.e., the fuel pump is going out and not supplying that fuel.

3. An Overheating Engine

Oddly, a malfunctioning fuel pump can also cause your engine to overheat. This is because the fuel pump motor is overheating and transferring the excess heat to the engine. The fuel drawn out of the tank keeps the pump motor cool. Little to no fuel means an overheated pump motor.

4. Poor Fuel Economy

A faulty fuel pump can also affect your vehicle’s fuel economy. It will reduce it to the point at which it is noticeable. The engine is not running efficiently if it is not supplied with the correct amount of fuel that it needs to maintain your speeds. This reduces your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.

5. Reduced Fuel Pressure

The fuel pump is responsible for the fuel pressure in the engine. If the pump is going bad, there will be a significant reduction in your vehicle’s fuel pressure. We can test the fuel pressure for you, or you can do it yourself with a gauge that you purchase at the auto parts store.

6. Stress Power Loss

Finally, a dying fuel pump will reduce your vehicle’s power when it is under stress. Let’s assume for the moment that you own a truck and are towing a trailer behind it. If the engine loses significant power, the fuel pump is not supplying the fuel needed when the engine is under stress.

Call Doc Auto in Fredericksburg, VA, today if your vehicle is experiencing any of the symptoms listed above. We can test your fuel pump and replace it if necessary.

1 Nov

Filter Guide for Your Automobile

We discussed the fluids in your automobile in a previous blog post; now let’s discuss the filters. Whether you drive a car, truck, crossover, or SUV, you have filters that need to be changed on a regular basis. If these filters get clogged, your engine performance and fuel economy will suffer. In addition, clogged filters can damage the engine, and, in the case of the cabin air filter, a clogged filter can make you sick.


All vehicles have an air filter in the engine. This filter is needed to remove the dirt and contaminants that are found in the outside air. Once the air is cleaned, it flows past the mass airflow sensor and into the combustion chamber. The air is burned with fuel to produce engine combustion. The air filter should be changed every 12,000 miles. Low-mileage drivers need to change it once a year.


Check your owner’s manual to see if your vehicle has a cabin air filter. If it doesn’t, there is permanent netting that purifies the air that blows through the vents. If it does, this filter needs to be changed every 30,000 miles on average. It’s a good idea to check your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations for changing this filter as the mileage durations vary.


All vehicles also have a fuel filter. The fuel filter does for the fuel what the air filter does for the air. It purifies the fuel before it is sprayed into the combustion chamber by the fuel injectors. Even the most expensive fuel in town has sediment and contaminants in it. These things can clog the fuel filter if it is not changed every 30,000 miles. Low-mileage drivers should change it every two years.


You will find an oil filter in every automobile. This filter is changed during a lube, oil, and filter. Frequent oil changes ensure that your engine is protected and prolong its life. The general recommendation for oil changes is every 3,000 miles. If you put synthetic motor oil in your automobile, this duration is extended to every 5,000 or 7,500 miles on average.


Finally, most vehicles have a transmission filter that is changed when the transmission fluid is changed. On average, a transmission fluid flush and refill should be done every 30,000 miles. If your vehicle has been acting up lately when it is shifting gears, you probably need to have your transmission fluid changed.

Doc Auto in Fredericksburg, VA, would be happy to check all of your vehicle’s filters to make sure they are okay. If any of them need to be changed, we will do so.

1 Oct

How Long Does a Clutch Last in a Manual Transmission?

A clutch in a manual transmission can last anywhere from 50,000 miles to 100,000 miles or more. How you drive your manual transmission can either shorten or extend the life you get out of the clutch. The clutch itself might fail prematurely if there is something wrong with it. Your clutch will give you hints that it is going out. DOC Auto lists the signs of a failing clutch below so you can bring your car, truck, or utility vehicle to our shop at the very first indication of trouble.

Resistance Change

As your clutch begins to wear down, the resistance it gives you and the bite point might change. A clutch that feels soft or squishy, a clutch that sinks all the way to the floor without catching, or a clutch that has a higher bite point than normal are all signs that you need to have the clutch adjusted or replaced. How the clutch feels underneath your foot shouldn’t change.

Grinding Gears

If you’ve suddenly started grinding gears like you did when you first learned how to drive with the clutch, it most likely isn’t your technique. Rather, your clutch is likely slipping and needs to be replaced. The reason the gears are grinding is simple: The clutch is unable to take the power away from the engine and transfer it to the transmission like it’s supposed to do. Consequently, the gears will grind if the power is still in the engine rather than the transmission.

Squeaking Clutch

A squeaking clutch can indicate that the internal mechanisms of the clutch are wearing down. Your clutch shouldn’t make any noise when you press down on it or when you release it. If it starts to make strange sounds such as squeaking, let us take a look at it as soon as possible.

Acceleration Lag

The power transfer we discussed above can also cause problems when you try to accelerate your vehicle. When the power is transferred to the transmission, the transmission uses the power to turn the wheels. It does so through the driveshaft. If your clutch is slipping, you may not have any power going to the driveshaft and your acceleration will lag.

Burning Odors

If you detect burning or hot odors coming from your clutch, this can be a sign that the clutch is slipping. A slipping clutch is one that does not stay engaged even though you still have the pedal depressed.

Slipping Gears

A slipping clutch can also cause your transmission to slip gears. You will know that the transmission has slipped out of gear because you will suddenly lose power and your engine will rev.

Call DOC Auto in Fredericksburg, VA, today if you believe your clutch is going out. We can fix the problem.

1 Sep

Reasons Why My Vehicle Failed its Emissions Test

It’s frustrating when your vehicle fails its emissions test. Thankfully, we here at DOC Auto can run a diagnostic check to find out why the vehicle didn’t pass. There are common reasons why automobiles fail emissions tests. Here is what they are for your information.

Check Engine Light

If your check engine light is on, your vehicle will automatically fail the emissions test. This is most likely because you have an underlying problem that is affecting your engine performance. These problems can include a faulty mass airflow sensor or a dead oxygen sensor. The check engine light will also come on if your vehicle’s exhaust system is having problems.

Dirty Air Filter

If you haven’t had your air filter changed in 12,000 miles, it’s possible that this is the reason why your vehicle failed the emissions test. A dirty air filter creates a lean fuel mixture in the combustion chamber and, as a consequence, you end up with more hydrocarbons in your vehicle’s exhaust. It is these hydrocarbons that cause the emissions test failure.

Dirty Motor Oil

Dirty motor oil can also produce more hydrocarbons in your vehicle’s exhaust. In addition, dirty motor oil can damage your engine severely and unnecessarily. It’s important to have your oil changed when your vehicle manufacturer recommends it to make sure that it is always clean and fresh. Otherwise, again, you cause unnecessary damage to your engine and an emissions test failure.

Loose Gas Cap

If your gas cap can no longer create a seal over the gas tank, your vehicle may fail its emissions test and you may end up with the check engine warning. This is because fuel is evaporating out of the tank, which is not only harmful to the environment but also to your health.

Rich Fuel Mixture

A rich fuel mixture can be caused by leaking fuel injectors, a faulty mass airflow or oxygen sensor, or an open fuel pump among other things. A rich fuel mixture means the air and fuel mixture is heavy and fuel. This causes excess hydrocarbons to be released in your vehicle’s exhaust, and, as a consequence, your vehicle will not pass the emissions test.

Spark Plug Problems

Finally, if your spark plugs are old and worn, they may misfire and this will cause your vehicle to flunk its emissions test. Check your owner’s manual to see when you need to have your vehicle’s spark plugs changed, as the mileage duration varies from 30,000 miles to 100,000 miles.

Don’t panic. DOC Auto in Fredericksburg, VA, can help. We’ll find out why your vehicle failed its emissions test and fix the problem.

1 Aug

Things That Affect Your Lube, Oil, and Filter Duration

We here at DOC Auto cannot stress enough how important it is to get a lube, oil, and filter change when your vehicle needs it. This service can literally extend the life you get out of your vehicle’s engine. If you fail to change the oil, you will not only prematurely damage the engine but you could actually kill it. There is a reason why mechanics say motor oil is the lifeblood of your engine. Let’s talk about the things that affect how often you should have your vehicle’s oil changed.


First, take a look at what your vehicle manufacturer recommends in your owner’s manual. This is the best starting point for determining how often you should have your oil changed. Most vehicle manufacturers recommend that you have your oil changed every 3,000 miles. This can change, however, if your manufacturer also recommends that you use synthetic motor oil in your automobile.

Oil Type

You probably already know this, but synthetic motor oil can extend the time between oil changes. If you use synthetic or a synthetic blend, you may not need to have your oil changed until you have driven 5,000 miles to 10,000 miles. It depends on what your vehicle’s manufacturer recommends as well as the oil manufacturer’s recommendation.


It’s also important to take into account your daily commute. For example, if you only drive short distances throughout the day, you need to have your oil changed more often. Short-distance driving is hard on your vehicle’s engine. Another thing that is hard on the engine is being stuck in traffic throughout the day. These things can make it necessary to have your oil changed before the manufacturer’s recommendation.


Driving habits are another thing to take into consideration. If you’re a calm driver who doesn’t drive your vehicle hard, your motor oil has time to warm up and protect the engine accordingly. If you drive like a maniac and put the pedal to the metal right away, your motor oil does not have time to warm up and you could be damaging your engine. The latter also causes a need for more frequent oil changes.


Finally, your vehicle’s age can also affect how often you need to get a lube, oil, and filter service. Vehicles that are quite old, such as classic automobiles, should have their oil changed every 2,000 miles. If you drive a high-mileage automobile, this, too, can make frequent oil changes more necessary.

DOC Auto in Fredericksburg, VA, would be happy to change your vehicle’s oil when it needs it. Give us a call today.

1 Jul
Important tire and wheel services

Don’t Forget About These Important Tire and Wheel Services

When it comes to vehicle maintenance, the tires and wheels are also important. You, obviously, won’t get anywhere without any tires, and the wheels help you control your automobile. DOC Auto can help you maintain your tires and wheels. Let’s talk about some important tire and wheel services that extend the life you get out of the tires and keeps your vehicle easy to control.

Tire Inspections

Tire inspections are something you can do quickly on the weekend. Bimonthly, check your tire’s air pressure in all four tires and the spare. Make sure that the tires are inflated to the proper psi. If they aren’t, add air to the tires that need it, but never overinflate the tires or allow them to remain underinflated for a long time. Check the tires for uneven tread wear and for bubbling or cracking on the sides of the tires. Check for nails and other issues, as well.

Tire Rotations

Bring your vehicle to us if you notice any problem with the tires. Also plan to schedule a tire rotation every 6,000 miles to 10,000 miles. You can split the difference, so to speak, and have your tires rotated every 7,500 miles if this is easier for you. Another easy way to remember when you need your tires rotated is to have the service done during every other oil change. Rotating the tires wears down the tread evenly and makes them last longer.

Wheel Balances

If your wheels are not balanced, they will vibrate as you pick up speed. You will not only be able to hear the vibration but you will also feel it. Balancing the wheels is important every time you have the tires rotated. This makes sure that your axles are carrying even weight, which makes handling your automobile is easier. If you don’t get your wheels balanced when they need it, the vibration will cause uneven tire tread wear. This reduces the life you get out of your tires.

Wheel Alignments

Finally, your wheels need to be aligned every two years at a maximum. If you do a lot of driving, it’s a good idea to get the wheels aligned annually. They also need to be aligned when you have a new set of tires put on your automobile. This ensures the tire tread is flush with the road and does not wear down unevenly.

As we said above, DOC Auto in Fredericksburg, VA, can help you with your tire and wheel services. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

1 May
Is Transmission Fluid Red or Brown?

Is Transmission Fluid Red or Brown?

The answer to the titled question is both. Your car, truck, utility vehicle, or van’s transmission fluid changes color as it ages. Generally, the fluid should be changed every 30,000 miles. If it has been at least that long since you last had your transmission serviced, bring your vehicle into DOC Auto for a quick inspection. We can determine the health of your transmission based upon its color. The differences are listed below.

Red Means New

Red means that your transmission’s fluid is new and doing its job to the best of its ability. The fluid is responsible for lubricating the gears, protecting them, reducing their heat, and helping the transmission to shift gears. Red fluid is translucent and an indication that you don’t need to have your it changed at this moment.

Light Brown Means Getting Old

Light brown means that the transmission fluid is starting to age. In some cases, the fluid may look more orange than light brown, but either way, it’s time to start thinking about getting your fluid changed. You may have a few more miles out of the fluid depending on how translucent it still is, but you’re on the road to a necessary flush and refill soon.

Brown Means Old

When the fluid turns brown, it also turns opaque and is no longer able to do its job. This means that it is too old and you need to have it changed right away. Brown fluid is not circulating through the transmission properly and, on top of its age, the fluid level is likely too low due to dissipation.

Black Means Dangerously Old

If your transmission has a black and opaque fluid, it is actually damaging your transmission rather than protecting it. The fluid needs to be changed right away in order to prevent further damage to your vehicle’s transmission. It’s important to never let it get so old that it turns black. This fluid is oxidized and filled with air bubbles.

Pink Means Diluted

Finally, if your fluid looks like a strawberry milkshake, you’ve got a serious problem. Pink and frothy fluid is a combination of the fluid in the transmission mixed with engine coolant. This usually happens when there is a breach between the two systems. This diluted fluid will damage your transmission if you drive your automobile.

DOC Auto in Fredericksburg, VA, can check the fluid in your transmission for you and let you know whether it needs to be changed. Stop by our shop or call us today.

Chatham Heights
175 Chatham Heights Road
Fredericksburg, VA 22405
(540) 899-3732

Courthouse Road
10734 Courthouse Road
Fredericksburg, VA 22408
(540) 710-0173

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