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AAMCO transmission consumer rip-off ... Sounds like I got set up
In the fall of 1985, my 1982 Chevrolet Cavalier's transmission went out. I took it to Aamco shop in Charlotte, NC on Independence Blvd. (it is no longer there) for repair and they said the fromt seal of the transmission had melted and all the fluid had drained out of the transmission, causing it to burn out.
I drove the car to them, so this seemed a little far fetched. I authorized them to rebuld the transmission, agreeing tro pay the $2100 price becuase this was a front wheel drive car, and therefore, more difficult to work on.
They performed the repair on a timely basis and said they had fixed the problem. Three weeks later, the car began doing the same thing it had been doing that resulted in me having them do the first repair.
I took the car to them and they said that the front transmission seal had melted, but no damage had occured to the transmission. They only had to remove the transmission, replace the front seal, re-install the transmission, and top it off with fluid. I asked if this was covered bu the warranty. They said no, as the seal had melted through no agency of the transmission or the work they did in its rebuild. I didn't like this concept as I thought a warranty was a warranty, but I agreed to pay another $600 to replace the front seal.
While the repair was being done, I wandered into the shop while the manager was coercing another customer to see the repair being made and get some idea of the truth by talking to the real experts, the mechanics. I found my transmission being checked just before re-installation in the car.
The mechanic was a good ole boy whom I treated with respect and caution. He donfided in me that one of the problems with front wheel drive cars is that they have an electric radiator cooling fan. During the summer, the engine coolant temperature sensor can fail and go unnoticed due to the fact that the fan runs constantly with the use of air conditioning. Even though the fan is running, it doesn't run fast enough or long enough to provide adequate cooling protection for temperature sensitive engine and transmission parts. No temperature light goes on, and nothing is noticed until the front transmission seal melts enough to cause the transmission to lose enough fluid to ruin it. This usually takes quite some time in the heat of summer, but escalates when fall arrives and the air conditioner is not run as often.
The mechanic informed me quietly while looking to make sure his manager was not observing him that all I needed to do to keep from returning on a regular basis was to have both engine coolant temperature sensors replaced by a mechanic (one in the radiator, one in the top of the engine block). He explained that this was the cause of several quirks I had noticed abouth the car at that time.
The next day, I took it to a garage where I was told that both temperature sensors had failed and the only reason the car was still running was because of the use of air conditioning. They concurred that the overheating would have ruined the transmission, but they could not understand why Aamco did not tell me to have the temperature sensors checked.