All posts by LeonsTrans

Size Doesn’t Matter

Size Doesn’t Matter

To quote William E. Butterworth, Author of “Mighty Minicycles” (1976 Harvey
House publishing), “A minibike is a two-wheeled motor vehicle which is not a moped,or a motor scooter, or a minicycle, or a full-sized motorcycle”.

Minibikes came about in the 1930’s by do-it-yourselfers, who would weld together a frame and an engine. They were constructed using mainly adapted bicycle parts. After World War II small gasoline powered engines became a familiar sight. These engines were removed from gardening equipment and made the construction of minibikes easier. In the 1960’s, minibikes were being manufactured in mass production. Many minibike companies emerged, such as Bonanza and Steen’s famous “Taco” minibikes. Some minibikes were actually street legal, but the majority was not. This resulted in many a young man getting his first pre-license experience with the law!

Similar to the demise of the go kart, (featured article July 2012 DrivenWorld) the minibike lost popularity due in part to injuries. Furthermore, the Japanese took the idea and incorporated their more powerful small engines and better suspension designs and crushed over the U.S. market. By the early 1970’s, most U.S. minibike manufacturers were out of business.

Recently there has been a re-birth of the nostalgia of the minibike era…Taco minibikes are being reproduced. Small companies are making a business out of restoring and reproducing classic minibikes.

For the guy who has everything, here is one more thing that you have no business operating, but is guaranteed to bring a big smile to your face!





Car Culture-Lets Go RVing!!

Let’s Go RVing!
I guess the first true RV’ers were the pioneers who set out across the country to find new lands. They packed all the luxuries they could and set off to their destination of choice!

The recreational vehicle was not really defined however, until the time when the first automobiles were created.

1910 was the year that recreational vehicles were first manufactured and sold in the United States. ‘Pierce-Arrows’ was the first to produce a primitive version of the Type B camper van that exists today. It was named the “Touring Landau”, and it even contained a toilet. Auto Kamp Trailers and the Los Angeles Trailer Works had their own lines of traveling homes. Some of these RVs were featured in issues of Popular Mechanics as early as 1911.

The recreational vehicle industry recently celebrated its 107th birthday! The mobile campers of today have full baths, kitchens, generated power, plasma TVs, hot tubs, laundry facilities, powerful engines, and sophisticated electronic overdrive transmissions.

The Murphy Auto Museum in Oxnard has this wonderful 1924 Chevrolet House Car on permanent display. All original, this early RV features a 4-cylinder overhead engine, a 3 speed manual transmission, bed and closet, sink, and kerosene lamps. It has wood sides and a metal roof!






The possibilities are endless in where the next generation of recreational vehicles will go. One thing is for sure, people will never grow tired of traveling and enjoying all the luxuries of home that they can bring along!





Car Culture-Tip of the Month-That does not compute!

That does not compute!

For those of you who remove and install your own transmissions, there are things to remember to include in your estimate!

Many newer vehicles may require additional work that can result in your shop subletting portions of your repair to another shop, or even the dealership. It is important that the technicians inform their service managers of procedures that will need to be included in preparing an estimate to ensure the repair is done correctly.

These procedures will usually involve some form of a “re-learn” procedure for the Transmission Control Module (TCM) or “re-flash”. This procedure may also be needed even in a minor transmission repair, such as a valve body replacement.

Performing relearns, transmissions adapt resets, and re-flashing can be difficult on Asian and European vehicles. Software for these vehicles is usually very expensive and many shops just cannot make this investment.

Leon’s often receives calls from our wholesale accounts telling us they have not had to perform TCM or PCM reprogramming. However, whenever a transmission with an internal computer in the valve body is replaced, it will require a complete re-flash.

Understanding the malfunction of a transmission can explain when it will or won’t need adaptation resets. For instance, a newer vehicle comes into your shop and the customer states, “I was driving down the road with no problems and the transmission just quit.” Upon the internal inspection of the transmission it was discovered the pump assembly broke. The computer did not have time to adjust to any malfunction therefore, a reset of the transmission adaptations was not necessary.

Take this same car, but the customer states that the transmission has been slipping from 2nd to 3rd for weeks. After the transmission was replaced, when road testing the car, it has harsh up and down shifts. Before you pull the transmission out thinking something is wrong, be sure you have performed the correct procedure to reset the transmission adaptive shifts. The computer does not know you have replaced the transmission and it has ramped up the internal pressure to compensate for the slipping clutches. This is why the new transmission seems to operate with a problem. In some cases, a transmission replacement will require the TCM replacement also. And remember, the TCM is not always internal in the transmission.

For questions on procedures to reset adapts or TCM re-flashes, contact your nearest LEON’S TRANSMISSION SERVICE CENTER.





Ford 5R55W transmissions hold 10 quarts of oil. A service dropping the pan and replacing the filter will require about 4 quarts. Always check levels a second time!




A man pulled over to the side of the road when he saw the police lights in his rear view mirror.
“How long have you been riding around without a tail light” asked the officer?
“Oh, no!” screamed the man, jumping out of the car.
“Calm down, it isn’t that serious.” said the officer.
“Wait until my family finds out.”
“Where’s your family?”
“They’re in the trailer that was hitched to the car!”

Car Culture-Let’s Split Man!

Car design continues to evolve over time. Styles and designs come and go, just like the fashion world. Some are never to be seen again, while others make a stylish, retro comeback.

Originating in the 1930’s, the split rear window is due for a revisit. Art Deco automobiles like the 1934 Chrysler Airflow were a natural to adopt this classic design. Offering a sweet, swept-back look, some considered the design “privacy enhancing”, while others criticized it for the lack of visibility.






Just like clothing and other designer merchandise, its artistic effect was very “individual”. The 1940’s saw the demise of the split rear window, the exception being the Volkswagen Beetle which carried the design to 1953. Italian designer Franco Scaglione introduced the design back in the mid-fifties for Alfa Romeo.

The most famous domestic appearance of the split rear window was on the 1963 Chevrolet Corvette ‘Stingray’. Designed by Bill Mitchell, many loved the design due to the bulge on the hood that followed a line on the roof to the rear window.


But the Vette’s window fell prey to some of the criticisms of its predecessors. Although many enjoyed the rear window style, they found the limited visibility outweighed the aesthetics.

Bill Mitchell did not give up and worked with General Motors designers and in 1971 came up with the Buick Rivera. This time the split was a clear ridge in the glass, rather than a panel separating 2 windows. It clearly delineated the window without visual obstruction.

The automotive industry has not seen the return of the split rear window since. Many would say good riddance, while others are quietly, and anxiously, awaiting its return to the automotive fashion highway.

Car Culture-Lease or Buy Pt. 2 – Car Lease Contract: 7 Important Facts

Pt. 2 – Car Lease Contract: 7 Important Facts

1) A lease contract amount doesn’t change, even after an accident. If the consumer gets into a car accident and the vehicle is totaled, the consumer is responsible for the full lease contract amount. If the consumer put zero down, they often find that the insurance settlement is not enough to cover the payoff amount.


2) There are limits on time and distance. When the lease is initiated, the time and mileage terms are defined. Generally, a lease is 36 months and 36,000 miles. 12,000 miles a year is not a lot, and there is usually a penalty of $0.25 per mile over the aggregated mileage limit. They never offer a credit if the turn-in mileage is less


3) If the leasee experiences financial hardships and cannot afford the payments, the dealership will recover the car and sell it on their own terms, which could be an auto auction. If it’s sold for less than what is owed, most likely, the consumer is legally responsible to pay the difference.


4) The consumer is not the owner, but is responsible for all repairs and maintenance that is not covered by the factory warranty. No consideration is made when the vehicle is turned in as to what the consumer’s ‘out of pocket’ expenses may have been. Consumers are responsible for wear on components as well, when the vehicle is returned and assessed.


5) The vehicle cannot be claimed as an asset.





6) Lifelong car payments! If the consumer leases a vehicle, and at the end of the lease returns the vehicle, and leases another – and this continues for as long as transportation is required, the leasee basically never pays off the loan, nor owns a car. If the payment is $350.00 per month and instead the leasee puts that $350 per month into a mutual fund for 30 years, assuming the fund paid 10%, after 30 years it would be worth $791,171.00. That’s a lot of cars.


7) It’s generally more expensive to purchase a car after a lease than if it was purchased outright. Beware of the lease payment per month promotion. Although it sounds good at the time of the lease, often consumers do not look at the price of the vehicle on the lease; sometimes the dealer lists the car value at close to sticker invoice. The result is a higher purchase price of the automobile when purchased after the lease. Additionally, the dealer may add a disposition fee which is a handling fee for when you turn the car in, or add a purchase-option fee should you decide to buy it.

As the saying goes, “Buyer Beware.”

Car Culture-Lease or Buy Pt. 1

Educating Your Customers on ‘Lease or Buy’ Decision
Perhaps you have noticed a drop in your business this last year; a year when the stock market has enjoyed a profit and home values are up. Why then, does the auto repair business continue to struggle? There are many theories as to why this is occurring, but one certain cause is the leased automobile.

There are many perks to an auto lease, and with good credit someone can sign a lease with zero down. Lease payments are generally less than the payment to own the vehicle, and a lease often allows the consumer to ride off in a car they could not normally afford to buy. Thus, leasing a vehicle is appealing to the consumer.

Did you know that close to 75% of luxury cars are leased? And with the free maintenance packages being offered, this is why your car-count is down. Although repairs on leases are the consumer’s responsibility, any major problems would be covered by the factory warranty.

Like all things in life, however, if it looks too good to be true, it usually is! It’s up to you to educate your customers when it comes to ‘lease or buy’. On the back page of this “Tip of the Month” are some “cons”’ customers often face in a lease. Perhaps this can enlighten your customer as to why owning is a better value.


(Stay tuned for Part 2!)



A man died and went to The Judgment, they told him, “Before you meet with God, I should tell you we’ve looked over your life, and to be honest you really didn’t do anything particularly good or bad. We’re not really sure what to do with you. Can you tell us anything you did that can help us make a decision?”

The newly arrived soul thought for a moment and replied, “Yeah, once I was driving along and came upon a person who was being harassed by a group of thugs. So I pulled over, got out a bat, and went up to the leader of the thugs. He was a big, muscular guy with a ring pierced through his lip. Well, I tore the ring out of his lip, and told him he and his gang had better stop bothering this guy or they would have to deal with me? “Wow that’s impressive, “When did this happen?”

The man replied, “About three minutes ago.”

Car Culture-Great Balls Almighty

Great Balls Almighty!
The year was 1967. The ‘Newlywed Game’ premiers on television, Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys is indicted for draft evasion, Sonny and Cher have a hit with “The Beat Goes On”, the United States is still testing nuclear bombs in the Nevada desert, and the 76 Union Oil Company releases their first antenna topper.

By 1968, Union 76 had produced 350,000 of these antenna balls. They were all painstakingly made by hand. Each topper began life as a plain white Styrofoam ball. It was hand painted orange, then screen printed by hand with the blue 76 image. They continued to be made that way until 1977. The popularity of these balls grew to 1,500,000 being produced in 1985.

In the 90’s corporate America jumped on 76’s phenomenal advertising success. Disney began producing antenna balls in 1991, creating a “Mickey” antenna topper to celebrate Walt Disney World’s 20th anniversary. Today, Disney produces over 100 different antenna toppers.

In 1995, to stay hip in the movement they created, Union 76 released antenna toppers in the shape of a baseball, soccer ball, basketball, and a football. Over time other businesses got on the bandwagon of free advertising by developing antenna toppers related to an individual personality rather than a specific product or activity. The movie “Cast-Away” starring Tom Hanks, released in 2000, is responsible for the bestselling antenna ball to date. “Wilson”, the volleyball antenna topper, will go for over $50.00 if you can find one.


With the decline of antennas on vehicles made today, it seems inevitable that we will see a decrease in the creativity and volume of antenna toppers produced. In an attempt to keep the nostalgia alive, Union 76 now produces a rubber ball with a magnet on the bottom to hold it to the vehicle. Time will tell if it catches on, reaching the fame received by the original antenna topper of 1967.












Antenna balls provided courtesy of Toni Novogradac.

Car Culture-Tip of the Month-Tired of Problems?

car problems


How many nights have you laid awake in bed thinking of a problem car that you just can’t fix? Well, it may be the tires that are making you tired!

Problems with mismatched brands, wrong size, or low pressure can create a problem with a transmission. One example taken from the Automatic Transmission Rebuilders Association “Gears” magazine mentioned a problem with BMW automobiles equipped with the GM4L30E transmission or the ZF 4 or 5-speed automatics. The transmission won’t upshift to, or past, 4th gear after driving on the freeway. The transmission receives commands to only 3rd or 4th gear, with no stored codes. This particular vehicle had low mileage, but the right front tire had just been changed because it went flat. Being new, the spare had no mileage on it and the difference in tire size caused the computer to think the vehicle was in a high speed turn! The curve recognition software would down-shift the vehicle to a lower gear and would not allow the transmission to upshift past that gear. This is a safety feature that prevents the driver from losing control. The quick check for this problem is to swap the new tire to the rear.

The list of tire problems on 4-wheel drives is long. The most common issues are clunks, noises, and binding on turns. Different tire sizes, inflation, or mismatched brands are to blame. To check if tires are the issue, mark each tire at 12 o’clock with a marker. Roll the car straight for at least 10 tire revolutions. All 4 tires should remain within ¼ of each other.

We hope you get some rest with these tips. Contact any local LEONS TRANSMISSION SERVICE locations for more information.



Remember the time?
When replacing a radiator with an automatic transmission, most will have the cooler built into the radiator. There will be a loss of transmission fluid, some from spillage, and the empty transmission cooler cavity will need to be filled. Remember to add the appropriate oil and check the level.




The other day I was in the local auto part store. A lady came in and asked for a “seven ten” cap. We all looked at each other and said, “What’s a seven ten cap?” She said, “You know, it’s right on the engine. Mine got lost somehow and I need a new one.” “How big is it?” they ask. She makes a circle with her hands about 3 1/2 inches in diameter. “What does it do?” they asked. “I don’t know,” she said. “But it’s always been there!” Someone gave her a note pad and asked her to draw a picture of it. She makes a circle about 3 1/2 inches in diameter and in the center she writes “710”. The guys behind the counter are looking at it upside down as she writes it. They fall down behind the counter laughing in hysterics. One guy finally says, “I think you want an ‘OIL’ cap, lady.”

Car Culture-Tin Can Toys

Assorted toy cars at a store

Tin Can Toys!

If you were a child in the 50’s or 60’s, the chances are you owned
some type of battery operated tin toy.

There were character toys, holiday toys, and vehicle toys! Most
of these toys were produced in Japan. After World War II ended,
the treaty with the Japanese limited the type of items that
the country could produce. With a strong sense of ingenuity
and work ethic, they became the premier manufacturer of
inexpensive toys after the war. Soon the toys they produced
had multi functions. They would move, make sounds, and have
flashing lights. The majority of components used were tin. Since
resources in Japan were very limited after the war, much of the
tin used was from old food cans. Many of these toys if taken
apart reveal names like “Hunt’s” or “Dole”. These toys were
fragile to say the least. They had multi colored lithographics,
plastic parts, and rubber tires. It did not take long for plastic
parts to break off and batteries to wear down. A toy left in the
rain was “rust” the next day. Not a lot of these toys survived.
Japan has a tin toy museum, which preserves and restores these
classic toys. Many books can be found on these and there is a
high cash value on many. Have you been good this year?
Maybe Santa will leave one of these under your tree!

from your friends at Leon’s Transmission!

If you have any questions, call your local LEONS TRANSMISSION SERVICES representative.



Car Culture-Tip of the Month-Cars to Christmas Trees!

From Cars to Christmas Trees

What do cars and Christmas trees have in common? LED light! More and more, LED lights are replacing standard filament bulbs in every area of our lives. Those of you who enjoy hugging trees and see a tint of green when you look in the mirror will be proud to know LED lights produce very little heat.

Thus a reduction in global heating; they contain no mercury. Since the heat emissions are low, the bulbs last longer as well. But what exactly is that light on your Christmas tree or new bulb in the taillight or dash? LED is a “light emitting diode”. It has a tiny pear-like chip in it that produces light more efficiently than a filament-based bulb.

It lights up faster than a filament bulb, and can operate on lower voltage. Since there is no filament, and the internal parts are rigidly supported, they are resistant to vibration and impact. Additionally, LED sources are compact, offering high flexibility in design possibilities. Expect to see their use increase dramatically in vehicle applications and holiday decorations over the years.


If you have any questions, call your local LEONS TRANSMISSION SERVICES representative.




During training exercises, the lieutenant who was driving down a muddy back road encountered another jeep stuck in the mud with a red-faced Colonel at the wheel.

“Your jeep stuck sir?” asked the lieutenant as he pulled alongside.

“Nope,” replied the Colonel, coming over and handing him the keys, “Yours is.”

*Rank Has Its Privileges