Category Archives: News

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


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.





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!




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





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!




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

Car Culture-Born of a Cartoon

A sidecar is a one-wheeled device attached to the side of a motorcycle, scooter or bicycle, creating a three-wheel vehicle.

A sidecar was first seen in a cartoon by George Moore in the January 7, 1903, issue of the British newspaper “Motor Cycling”. three weeks later, a provisional patent was granted in England. Graham Brothers of En eld, Middlesex, partnered with Jonathan A. Kahn and the production of sidecars was born.

Sidecars have been manufactured consistently since the early twentieth century. Sidecars were quite popular up to the rest half of that century because they provided a cheap alternative to passenger cars. Sidecars have not only been used by the general public, but armed forces and police departments all over the world have incorporated their use.

Sidecar manufacturers have designed some sidecars that allow the third wheel to have driven power, giving them better traction. Depending on the country and driving laws, sidecars can be mounted on either the le or right side. In the U.S., sidecars are mounted on the right side. Sidecars have been involved in racing for years as well.

The lucky guy in the car is referred to as the monkey! Although sidecars have become much less common since the mid 1950’s, a number of manufacturers worldwide continue to produce sidecars, including royal En eld, Ural, and the new Indian Motorcycle Company.


Spare Some Change? We Take Plastic!

Carl C. Magee of Oklahoma City, OK is credited with inventing the parking meter in May of 1935. Mr. Magee was with the traffic committee of the Oklahoma City “Chamber of Commerce”. It was his job to find a solution to downtown parking problems. Th e parking meter solved the problem of cars parked all day on the streets, but it also brought revenue to the city. Additionally, it assured parking turn-over so there would always be parking spaces for customers.

Donald Duncan, famous for the Duncan YoYo, was the owner of a toy company. He redesigned the parking meter to the fashion we see today. He began his parking meter business in 1937. His meters are used in over 50 countries, and the company remains a leader in the parking control industry.

There has been a 35-year parking coma during which the federal government, cities, and environmentalists forgot the importance of parking. Parking is a significant influence on how cities work and what form of travel they decide on. Th e main underlying idea is manage the supply of parking and you will reduce the demand for driving!

Murphy Auto Museum

Duncan Model 60, circa 1956 on display at Leon’s Car Corner at the Murphy Auto Museum

Today’s parking meters are more like small computers; they even take credit cards! With an estimated 105,000,000 parking spaces in the United States alone, it’s easy to see why the parking meter is an invention that will be around for a very long time.

What if parking
meters charged based on car value like automotive registration?

Leon’s Transmissions “Car Corner” at the Murphy Auto Museum

Some parking facts:

  1.  Th e average automobile sits parked 95% of the time.
  2.  Although business owners believe they benefit from free parking, curbside parking meters increase parking turnover so there are always new spaces, and new customers.
  3. At free parking spaces, 40-60 percent of vehicles overstay the posted time limits.

Stuck on you!

Probably one of the most recognizable logos is the STP insignia. Any kid who grew up in the late 60’s had a STP sticker stuck on their notebook or bicycle seat. Th e STP sticker was born out of a marketing phenomenon called “Contingency Sponsorship”. Common in all forms of automobile racing, this is a form of sponsorship whereby race teams place a sticker/decal on their vehicle from companies in exchange for awards for winning or meeting certain performance goals. These awards can be money or free equipment.

Today, racing stickers are called decals, however in the late 50’s a decal was a thin fi lm with a printed image. You would drop the decal in water and slide the image off the paper backing, being careful to eliminate bubbles from the surface it was applied to. A glue backing would dry and bond the decal to its surface.

In the early 60’s the sticker was born. The sticker was a thin sheet of vinyl with a printed logo that had a selfadhesive backing. They were much easier to apply than a water-slide decal.

As creative as times were in the 60’s, just like album covers, racing stickers evolved. They became colorful and used creative artwork. They were something that you just did not want to put on the fender of a racecar. They were free advertising that ended up on book covers, lockers and pickup truck rear windows. Back then, there was a gas station on every corner. Kids would ride up and stop the poor mechanic who was busy turning wrenches, and ask if he had any stickers. Usually the guy would stop what he was doing, wipe off his hands, go to his tool box and pull out some sort of automotive product sticker. Yes, they actually gave them out for “free.”

Today, many a man cave, tool box, or refrigerator door are adorned with classic stickers and decals. Original vintage racing stickers can be found on eBay; some going for as much as $50.00 each. Perhaps you will recognize some of these. Th e modern era contingency decals definitely lack the creativity that was put into the stickers of the past. Th e enthusiasm, however, remains. Drive by any school and you’ll see kids with automotive stickers, and other products, all over their notebooks.

Who’ll stop the rain?

With the heavy rains this season, some of you may have noticed a flood (no pun intended) of late 90’s, early 2000 Volkswagen Passat, Jetta, & Golf transmission problems. Be careful in your diagnosis! Many of these cars have problems beyond just the transmission.

Computer on passenger floorboard

Computer on passenger floorboard

The transmission computer is located in a recess on the passenger side floor board. The problem results from either a clogged sunroof vent or debris in the pollen filter on the firewall. This causes water to leak under the carpet, collecting in the recess holding the computer.
At Leon’s we have seen cars come in with the computers completely underwater. If you replace a computer, we recommend you drill 2 small holes in the floor to serve as a drain. Also, be sure to check the possible causes for continued water leaks and make sure the necessary repairs are made so your new computer does not suffer the same fate! Once the computer is replaced, you can continue with the transmission diagnosis. Or better yet, call your local Leon’s Transmission to come and check the vehicle at no charge… leaving you with more time to check other money-making jobs at your shop.

Pollen filter

Pollen filter

Debris in sunroof vent

Debris in sunroof vent