Category Archives: News

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!)

 

THE FUNNY SIDE

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

TIRED OF 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.

 

 FLUID FACT

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 FUNNY SIDE

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!

MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR
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.

MERRY HOHO

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

 

THE FUNNY SIDE 😊

R.H.I.P.*

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

 

Car Culture-Tip of the Month-Charge it!

Bad Battery

Charge it!

No, we’re not talking about your wife wanting to use your credit card. We’re referring to the problems low voltage can have on today’s highly technical automobiles. Poor cable connections, loose or dirty grounds, and bad batteries can wreak havoc for today’s technicians.

Here are a few examples.

EXAMPLE 1.  A Saturn Vue with the Honda automatic 5 speed will slip on forward engagement. Sometimes it would 2nd gear start. The wrench light on the dash would light sometimes, but there were no stored codes. Checking the battery revealed it would develop only 11.9 volts.

We also had a 2002 Mercedes come in operating in failsafe. A load test revealed the battery putting out 9.8 volts. The main computer will shut down components in a critical order. So often the transmission controller is shut down, saving energy. The car can at least run
with the transmission in failsafe. Replacing the battery cured both vehicles.

EXAMPLE 2. Dodge and Chrysler automobiles will cycle in and out of lockup or 4th gear without any stored codes. We notice this most often on light throttle, somewhere between 35 to 45 miles per hour. There are almost two dozen causes for this issue on these vehicles, but we have found that 90% of the time, cleaning and tightening the battery terminals and ground connections cures the problem.

EXAMPLE 3. A car comes in for a front seal leak, and you had just replaced it 8 months ago. An additional inspection of the vehicle reveals corroded battery terminals. The poor terminal connections caused a front pump bushing failure because of additional starter draw through the bell housing. This caused the front pump bushing to seize to the converter hub, damaging those parts and the front seal.

You can see how important a properly functioning charging system is! Clean connections and grounds are a must on today’s vehicles.

 

 

 

FLUID FACT

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!

 

 

THE FUNNY SIDE

Car Culture-Muscle Bikes!

No, I’m not talking about fitness machines. When muscle cars and hot rods gained in popularity in the mid sixties, those of us kids that couldn’t drive were stuck watching these cool rides cruise down the streets, filled with envy. Well, it didn’t take long for the Schwinn bicycle company to cash in on our craving! Schwinn designers had always been hip with their brand.

Evel Knievel bicycle1970’s Evel Knievel bicycle personally signed for a lucky kid named Wyatt. These bikes were produced by the AMF Corporation which, for a time, owned Harley Davidson.

In the early sixties they had produced bicycles with the names ‘Corvette’, ‘Jaguar’, and ‘Racer’. In 1968, the innovation of Schwinn designer Al Fritz’s ‘Stingray’ was taken to a new level with the ‘Krate’ series: Apple Krate, Orange Krate, Pea Picker, Cotton Picker, Lemon Peeler, and Grey Ghost. Their design came right from the drag strip. The bikes featured a fat, slick rear tire with raised white letters. They had a smaller rim and front tire, copying the dragster look, and featured highrise handlebars and a stick shift, just like what was in our big brother’s car. Add a Schwinn-approved rear view mirror and speedometer, and we were ready to cruise with the best of them!

1999 Dyno GT “Mooneyes” Cruiser

1999 Dyno GT “Mooneyes” Cruiser with factory mooneyes wheel discs.

It didn’t take long before other manufacturers copied Schwinn’s success. The Raleigh Bicycle Company of England did it best with their ‘chopper’. The Iverson Company produced a muscle bike designed by customizer George Barris – yes, the same guy who designed and built the ‘Batmobile’. The Huffy Company produced a bicycle with a high sissy bar like Peter Fonda in ‘Easy Rider’. They also got rid of the handlebars and actually replaced them with a steering wheel. Sears produced many muscle bikes that had a very cool appeal, including bikes inspired by motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel. The popularity of muscle bikes declined after 1973, when Ralph Nader banned the ‘stick shift’ because many young men were singing soprano after crashes involving the shifter. Once the cool was gone, so was the popularity!

Restored 1969 Schwinn custom “Grape Krate.”

Restored 1969 Schwinn custom “Grape Krate.”

Bicycle Motocross arrived in the late 1970’s. Many of these cool bikes were stripped of their nonessential parts and converted into bicycles that could be ridden off road. Few of these vintage bikes remain today. A resurgence of the muscle bike has occurred in the last few years. Companies like Nirve and GT Dyno have produced cool, full-size bikes with automotive themes.

2004 Electra Rat Fink’ bicycle

This ‘2004 Electra Rat Fink’ bicycle pays homage to the genius of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s “Rat Fink.”

1964 Sears Spaceliner

1964 “Sears Spaceliner”. Built by the Murphy Company for Sears, this deluxe model came with a chrome frame and springer forks. Notice the influence of the 60’s space-race in the design of this bike.

Car Culture-Tip of the Month

Strange Daze! Some weird things start happening this time of year. Soon ghosts and goblins will be knocking on our doors exclaiming “Trick or Treat!”

Strangely, some weird stuff shows up in the cars and trucks we are working on. Vehicle lights are one of the goblins I’m referring to. One little demon haunts Hyundai vehicles with four and five speed automatic transaxles. A short in the taillight circuit will back feed into the reverse light range sensor circuit.

The TCM is programmed to go into failsafe neutral when a signal of Reverse and Drive are detected simultaneously. Because there aren’t any codes, we’ve seen a few of these cars come into our shop with the owner expecting they’ll need a transmission!

Ford trucks can be pretty spooky also. If the truck originally used a factory incandescent bulb in the taillight, and that bulb is replaced with the newer, light-emitting-diode (LED) bulb, the PCM thinks the brakes are being applied. This causes the the torque converter
to cycle on and off.

If you want to keep the ghost and goblins out of your life, and your vehicle… follow these guide lines in transmission diagnosis:

  • Fluid Level
  • Battery Voltage (12.4V minimum)
  • Battery ground
  • Battery cables and terminal ends
  • Body grounds
  • Interior light function
  • Exterior light function
  • Instrument cluster gauge function
  • Instrument cluster warning lamp function
  • Diagnostic trouble codes stored in all modules
  • Range/inhibitor switch function (check for start in each detent)
  • Any aftermarket accessories installed (interior and exterior)
  • Manufacturer and any aftermarket technical bulletins or recalls

 

 

 

FLUID FACT

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!

 

 

THE FUNNY SIDE

Why do witches use brooms to fly on? Because vacuum cleaner cords aren’t long enough.

Why don’t skeletons like parties? They have no body to dance with.

What is a vampire’s favorite mode of transportation? A blood vessel

What kinds of streets do zombies like the best? Dead ends

What kinds of dogs do vampires like the best? Bloodhounds