Affordable Transmission & Performance - About Us

  • On Board Diagnostics for Your vehicle

    Mar 10, 2019

    Today we're going to talk about on-board diagnostics and the questions we hear from folks around PRINCETON, MN, who need answers about diagnostic services. They want to know what diagnostics are, what's involved and what the benefits are. They really want to understand the value of diagnostic scans by a trained technician in PRINCETON.

    These are valid concerns. If you don't understand something it's really hard to know its value. Let's start with some history.

    Since 1996, all cars and light trucks in PRINCETON, MN, have been required to use a standardized diagnostic system to help repair technicians determine what's wrong with your vehicle. The diagnostic system works with the vehicle's Engine Control Module – the computer that controls many engine functions.

    The computer monitors dozens of components and processes. Depending on what the sensors read, the computer will make adjustments to compensate for conditions and minor problems. When there is a condition that it can't adjust for, the computer will turn on the Check Engine light.

    It is also called the 'service engine soon' light on some vehicles. The warning light signals you to get into your local service center so that the trouble code can be read and the problem can be fixed. Your service center will have a scan tool and powerful software that will help the technician diagnose the problem.

    If you've searched for Check Engine light on the internet, you may have seen that you can buy an inexpensive scanner or go to an auto parts store to have the trouble code read to tell you exactly what's wrong.

    That's a common myth. The code itself doesn't tell you what's broken. It starts you looking in the right place. It tells you what engine parameter is out of range – but it won't tell you what's wrong or how to fix it.

    Let's say you think your daughter has a fever. You take her temperature and it reads 102 degrees F/38.9 degrees C. You've confirmed a fever, but you don't know what's causing it. Is it a 24 hour flu, an infection, appendicitis or leukemia? A fever is a symptom of all of these medical problems, but it takes a skilled physician's examination and additional diagnostic tests to find out what is actually causing the fever.

    An example of a trouble code could be: P0133, which reads 'Bank 1 sensor 1 circuit slow response.' This means that the front oxygen sensor has a slow response time to changes in the air-fuel mix. If that's all you knew about cars, you would think your oxygen sensor was broken and would replace it. Now, it could be the oxygen sensor – but it could also be a bad or contaminated airflow sensor, exhaust leak, electrical problem, an intake manifold leak or any of a number of other things.

    You can imagine a lot of oxygen sensors have been replaced because of that code. So the on-board diagnostics point the way to where the trouble lies, but it takes some skill and high-tech equipment to actually pinpoint the problem. The cheap scan tools that a consumer can buy do not have the ability to retrieve some of the operating history that's stored in the engine control computer. That history's very helpful in diagnosing the problem. Service centers like Affordable Transmissions invest a lot of money in high-end diagnostic tools to help solve the mystery and get you back on the road as soon as possible without replacing a lot of parts that don't need replacing.

    So, on-board diagnostics provide a powerful starting place for a highly-trained, well-equipped technician to get to the bottom of your problem. When your Check Engine light comes on, get it checked at Affordable Transmissions. If the light burns steadily – don't panic. Get in to Affordable Transmissions soon to have the engine scanned. A flashing Check Engine light means that there is a severe engine problem. Get in as soon as you can – waiting too long can lead to very expensive damage.

    And try to not drive at high speed or tow or haul heavy loads with a flashing Check Engine light.

    Make an appointment with Affordable Transmissions to have your on board diagnostics analyzed.

    Affordable Transmissions
    31533 125 1/2 Street
    PRINCETON, MN 55371
    (763) 533-1169

    Ethics of Automotive Repair in PRINCETON

    Feb 4, 2018

    We're going to be talking about the ethics of automotive repair. It seems like news outlets really like hit-and-run reporting; they hit everyone from groceries stores to retail to physicians. And the PRINCETON automotive service and repair industry hasn't been given a pass either.

    Unfortunately, every profession in PRINCETON has some bad actors that hurt the reputation of everyone else. On the automotive side, industry associations and professional licensing organizations are very committed to high ethical standards.

    Yet some people remain uncomfortable with PRINCETON automotive service and repair. It may start with the fact that our vehicles are a big investment and we rely on them for so much in our lives. That alone guarantees our attention. And how well we understand the recommendations really impacts our comfort level.

    If we understand what's recommended and the benefits of taking care of the work – and the pitfalls of putting it off – we'll have more trust in the recommendation. So communication is key. It's like going to the doctor; If she's using medical jargon and takes a lot of basic medical knowledge for granted, we have a hard time following her train of thought. It can be like that with your PRINCETON service advisor too. He's so familiar with all things automotive, he may forget you don't know a PCV from an EGT.

    If you don't understand what your doctor's talking about: ask some questions. If you don't understand what your PRINCETON automotive advisor's talking about: ask some questions.

    Let's go back to those ethical standards; when we hear a repair recommendation, we always ask ourselves, "Is this really necessary?" Well, here's the industry standard:

    If a technician tells you that a repair or replacement is required it must meet the following criteria:

    1. The part no longer performs its intended purpose
    2. The part does not meet a design specification
    3. The part is missing

    For example, it you take your car in for a grinding noise when you step on the brakes, you may just think you need new brake pads. After the inspection, the technician at Affordable Transmissions says that you have a cracked rotor and need to replace it.

    If you tried to get him to simply put new pads on, he would say that if you didn't want to replace the rotor; Affordable Transmissions would ethically have to refuse the repair.

    To just put pads on a cracked rotor would have been very wrong. The brakes could've failed at anytime and needed to be repaired – not just have a band-aid slapped on them.

    Now, looking at something not so serious, the technician may suggest repair or replacement if:

    1. The part is close to the end of its useful life – just above discard specifications or likely to fail soon
    2. To address a customer need or request – like for better ride or increased performance
    3. To comply with maintenance recommended by the vehicle's manufacturer
    4. Based on the technician's informed experience

    Of course, the technician has the burden of making ethical recommendations and properly educating their customers. For the customer, if you are uncomfortable with a recommendation, ask some questions. More information is always a good thing.

    Affordable Transmissions
    31533 125 1/2 Street
    PRINCETON, MN 55371
    (763) 533-1169

    On Board Diagnostics for PRINCETON Motorists

    Jan 2, 2018

    Some PRINCETON vehicle owners wonder why Affordable Transmissions and other PRINCETON auto repair shops charge a fee for vehicle diagnostics.

    Receiving a diagnostic charge at Affordable Transmissions for a tricky automotive problem shouldn't be a surprise. In the PRINCETON area, automotive diagnostics can cover quite a range. If you hear a noise in your vehicle brakes when you slow down in rush-hour traffic on a busy MN road, you pull off at the next off-ramp and take a quick visual check. That is usually enough to know what needs to be done. If you're having an intermittent problem with your vehicle engine, however, a Affordable Transmissions diagnosis may be much more involved.

    Much of the PRINCETON driver's confusion comes when the problem involves the Check Engine light. The Check Engine light comes on when the engine management computer has sensed a problem.

    There's a common misconception among MN drivers that the trouble code tells the Affordable Transmissions technician exactly what's wrong. They wonder why there is a diagnostic charge because the scanner quickly gave the diagnosis.

    In reality, it is not that easy and straightforward. The computer monitors many sensors throughout the vehicle. When one of these sensors has a reading that's out of parameters, the computer will record a trouble code and turn on the Check Engine light.

    The vehicle computer's trouble code just tells the Affordable Transmissions technician what engine parameter is out of range, not what's causing it. The technician needs to determine the underlying problem that's causing the malfunction.

    There are many problems that could cause a troublesome sensor reading for Affordable Transmissions customers. The service advisor makes a list of the most likely causes and begins tracking down the source of the problem. This takes time.

    PRINCETON service centers subscribe to databases that document possible causes for all the possible trouble codes. The databases outline procedures for confirming a diagnosis and provide the documented repair. These  databases are specific to each vehicle and engine combination.

    Some diagnoses are quick and easy. Others are more involved, time-consuming and difficult. Of course Affordable Transmissions wants to figure out what's wrong with your vehicle and get you back on the road as quickly as possible.

    Affordable Transmissions
    31533 125 1/2 Street
    PRINCETON, MN 55371
    (763) 533-1169

    What PRINCETON Customers like About Us at Affordable Transmissions

    May 23, 2017

    A big part of the service we provide at Affordable Transmissions for our PRINCETON customers is education. We want you to feel confident with your service decisions.

    And we're always open to questions from our valued PRINCETON area customers. Even though we try to be proactive in our Affordable Transmissions automotive education, we sometimes get busy fixing vehicles and need a reminder. Please, just ask.

    We've found our PRINCETON customers like the service reminders. They've grown to trust that our recommendations are based on the vehicle manufactures’ published maintenance schedules and that Affordable Transmissions is not just pulling them out of the air.

    We know that people in PRINCETON live a busy life with a lot more to think about than wondering if it's time to replace the PCV valve on their vehicle. Part of our Affordable Transmissions service process is checking the vehicle manufacture's schedule to make sure we don't overlook service.

    We hope MN drivers appreciate their courtesy inspection when they come into our PRINCETON facility for service. If we find something unexpected, it's good to know, and if we don't find anything wrong, you get a little peace of mind.

    You know, customer satisfaction is very important to us at Affordable Transmissions. We want to run a professional and friendly PRINCETON automotive service operation. If we do, you'll keep coming back and recommend us to your friends.

    Give us a call at (763) 533-1169.

    Affordable Transmissions
    31533 125 1/2 Street
    PRINCETON, MN 55371
    (763) 533-1169

    Questions to Ask Your PRINCETON Service Advisor

    Apr 18, 2017

    We find that a lot of PRINCETON drivers are a little tentative when they talk with their automotive advisors. They want to ask questions but don't want to be embarrassed or seem pushy. Vehicles are very complicated and there's more to know about them than most of us have the time to learn. Maybe it's because vehicles have become so much more reliable that the average person just doesn't need to know as much to keep their vehicle on the road.

    You know, your local hospital has a Patient's Bill of Rights that they post throughout the hospital. We think our PRINCETON automotive service customers also have a right to ask any question they need to understand what is wrong with their car and what it will take to fix it. They need to feel free to ask the cost and benefits of recommended services. And they certainly have a right to understand the financial end of the transaction.

    It's all about the communication. It's a little harder when you're trying to find the right service center in PRINCETON. But once you've developed a relationship, the communication should come easier.

    What are some of the barriers to communication? Well, let's go back to the medical example. When your doctor's explaining something to you, it's something that she understands very well and is very familiar with. So she may use jargon you don't understand or that you don't have the education and training that's foundational to understanding what she's trying to explain.

    So you fall behind and get frustrated.

    It can be the same with your PRINCETON automotive service advisors. Most of them are very busy trying to service and fix cars to get their customers back on the road. So, just ask when you feel you need more information.

    Financial related issues seem to be most frustrating to customers. If you're not sure, ask what the payment policies are. For example, there's a big difference between giving your car a quick once over and doing a thorough inspection. Diagnosing a problem may take quite a while. Make sure you know what's done as a courtesy and what has a fee. Remember, you still have to pay for the office visit even if the doctor says you only have a cold.

    Communication is a two way street. If you have some real budget concerns, ask your PRINCETON service advisor what he can do. He can give you priorities and options. He can tell you what needs to be taken care of right away for safety or financial reasons. Then you can work out a plan for when to get the rest done. He can also help you with options on the parts. The preference is to always use a high-quality part with a reputation for reliability. But if money is tight, he might be able to find a rebuilt or a used part. He should tell you the difference in the guarantee for the part so you can make a good decision.

    Ask about warranties for parts and labor. Be sure to get all the paperwork you need to make a possible claim in the future. Your service center and its technicians stand behind their work and want you to understand precisely what that means.

    Be sure to ask for and keep a detailed explanation of all the work that's done on your vehicle. These records will help you keep track of service, warranties and document the good care your vehicle has received when the time comes to sell it.

    Give us a call.

    Affordable Transmissions
    31533 125 1/2 Street
    PRINCETON, MN 55371
    (763) 533-1169

    Speak Up: Talking with Your Affordable Transmissions Service Advisor

    Jan 30, 2017

    About 80% of the vehicles on PRINCETON roads today are behind on their preventive maintenance schedules. That translates to about 160 million vehicles in the United States that aren't performing as well as they could be - thousands right here in MN. Some of the maintenance issues are minor. Others represent serious safety concerns.

    There are many reasons PRINCETON drivers neglect their routine car care. Some of the more common ones are complacency, lack of confidence, lack of trust and budget issues.

    Modern vehicles are amazingly reliable compared to their older counterparts. They can run for years without any repairs, and we sometimes translate that to mean they don't need any maintenance. The trouble is that without maintenance, parts in the vehicle are gradually wearing out, fluids are getting dirty, oil is developing sludge — a lot of stuff is happening that we can't see, and it is destroying the vehicle. The first time we learn there is a problem, we have a major repair bill on our hands.

    Older vehicles just couldn't keep going without frequent maintenance; they broke down without timely vehicle care. Modern vehicles are designed to keep running even when they're not fully healthy. Unfortunately, that convenience has led some of us to become complacent and ignore vehicle care — until we have to fix something. And fixing something today takes a whole lot more than it used to.

    Some people in PRINCETON just don't feel comfortable taking their vehicles to their local PRINCETON service center. They don't know much about engines or auto mechanics, so they don't know what questions to ask. They don't want to appear foolish or ignorant.

    Your physician doesn't expect you to understand what a ligament is or how it works. But if you have a problem with one, she's going to explain to you what it is, what's wrong with it and how it can be fixed. It's in her best interest as well as yours to do so. You'll both feel more comfortable with the treatment.

    That's what you can expect from the pros at Affordable Transmissions. They have to be highly trained and work with a lot of complex, high-tech systems. They don't expect their PRINCETON customers to understand car care. So ask questions. You need auto advice from a service specialist, just as you need medical advice from a doctor and financial advice from a financial advisor.

    Which brings us to the next concern: trust. A lot of rumors fly around PRINCETON about auto repair scams. You may have heard about some local auto shops taking advantage of customers and replacing parts that weren't broken. Frankly, this is just bad business practice. PRINCETON auto service centers won't stay in business long if they're engaged in this type of activity.

    It's in the best interest of PRINCETON service centers to diagnose a problem correctly and fix it right the first time. That's how they keep their businesses open.

    Trust must be earned. But just as it took time for you to establish a relationship and rapport with your doctor, it will take time to build a relationship with your service center.

    Also, realize that when your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Affordable Transmissions recommends routine maintenance, he is generally relying on your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations. In other words, your trust lies both with your service advisor and your vehicle manufacturer. You'll find that most of the service recommendations from Affordable Transmissions you receive coincide with what's in your manual.

    Those recommendations were set up by the engineers who designed your vehicle, not Affordable Transmissions. The team at Affordable Transmissions is just offering you a friendly reminder — a helpful reminder really, since most of us don't post our owner's manuals to our calendars.

    Money is behind most neglect of vehicle maintenance. First, they worry that they can't afford it. Second, they worry that they're being overcharged.

    The simple truth is, car care is like health care. We can't afford not to have it. Preventive maintenance is cheap compared to repair work. It extends the lives of our vehicles and saves us money on fuel. It also makes our vehicles safer to drive, which can prevent accidents. Putting off preventive maintenance can be very expensive.

    PRINCETON area service centers have to be competitive. Like any business, they can't afford to overcharge customers or they go out of business. But vehicle care today does cost more in MN than it used to. Vehicles are more sophisticated, complex and high-tech. That means technicians have to be better trained. They have to purchase high-tech diagnostic equipment and tools. They have to keep up with the latest advances in vehicle engineering and subscribe to computer databases. Like any business, they also have labor costs, insurance, rent, utilities, taxes, office supplies, etc.

    If you are strapped for cash, Affordable Transmissions can offer auto advice to help you keep your car running safely and manage your budget. For example, let's say you need new brake pads, transmission service and a new cabin air filter. A technician can't ethically recommend you delay brake service: that creates a safety hazard for you and other PRINCETON drivers. You need to get that done now. But they can let you know if the transmission service can wait a month and how long you can put off changing the cabin air filter. They can also estimate what these services will cost. That gives you the time and information you need to save up for the other services.

    The key to modern car care is preventive maintenance. Our modern vehicles are safer, more fuel efficient and more reliable than ever before. But to keep them that way PRINCETON drivers have to be more proactive about caring for them. It's good to know there are knowledgeable professionals at Affordable Transmissions who can help us do just that.

    Affordable Transmissions
    31533 125 1/2 Street
    PRINCETON, MN 55371
    (763) 533-1169

    What PRINCETON Automotive Service Consumers Should Know

    Oct 3, 2016


    There are some things drivers should know about PRINCETON car service and repair. First and foremost, Affordable Transmissions cares about you and your family's safety. And we really appreciate your business. Affordable Transmissions in PRINCETON wants to build a trusting relationship that becomes the foundation for a mutually beneficial experience for years to come.

    Building on that foundation, there are some things that would help you understand the auto service and repair business better. First, it can be really hard to fix vehicles. The days of shade tree mechanics are long gone. The majority of automotive systems are computerized. It takes a lot of training and very expensive equipment to diagnose and repair modern vehicles. The pros who work for Affordable Transmissions need extensive computer training – not just how to run the diagnostic systems, but also searching for the right parts, networking with other technicians to help them with a difficult problem and pulling together a job order that makes sure that each step of the process is addressed.

    The threshold for getting started as a technician gets higher all the time in MN, and there is a huge commitment to on-going training every year. This training takes time and money. It contributes to business overhead. Average consumers in PRINCETON may not realize the business and environmental regulations Affordable Transmissions must comply with. Of course that costs money, too. Like any MN business, overhead is a big factor.

    When you go into your favorite PRINCETON area restaurant, you don't value the meal by what the food would cost at the grocery store. The restaurant has rent, wages, insurance, taxes, utilities, professional fees, equipment, supplies – you get the picture. The restaurant has to charge enough to not only pay for the ingredients, but for all these other things as well while making enough profit to remain in business. If you value the meal and are satisfied with your dining experience, you'll come back and tell your friends.

    It's the same for Affordable Transmissions. The value of its service is not the cost of the parts they replace, but in your satisfaction with the results. If they deliver a good product at a fair price, customers are happy to see them succeed as a MN automotive business.

    Contact Affordable Transmissions to learn more about our extensive auto service training.
    You can find us at:
    Affordable Transmissions
    31533 125 1/2 Street
    PRINCETON, MN 55371
    (763) 533-1169

    At Affordable Transmissions, we love to see our PRINCETON customers whenever they come in, but we would much rather see them three or four times a year for routine maintenance than once a year on a tow truck. We want to work together with you to avoid breakdowns. Tell your friends and family to come in for their scheduled maintenance too. That lowers our marketing costs and helps keep labor rates down. That's good for everyone in PRINCETON.


    PRINCETON Customer Detective Work

    Jun 21, 2016

    One might say the most challenging part of being an automotive service technician at Affordable Transmissions is diagnosing a problem before it can be fixed.

    Cars are made up of a bunch of complex systems. There usually could be a number of reasons for any given symptom. So, it's challenging to track down the actual cause of the problem. And it can be frustrating for the vehicle owner because it can take time and money to get to the bottom of a problem. If it's not something obvious, it's easy for the customer to focus on the fixing and not the diagnosing.

    Let us at Affordable Transmissions introduce you to something we'll call 'Customer Detective Work' –  helping your technician find clues to what's wrong.

    We start with the detective basics: What, Where and When. Play along with me; You come in to Affordable Transmissions and your car is making a funny sound...

      • Q: Where's the sound?
      • A: Around the right front wheel.
      • Q: What kind of sound?
      • A: Kind of a clunk, clunk sound.
      • Q: When do you hear the sound?
      • A: When I turn and accelerate. 
    • Q: Right and left? Forward and back?

    Do you see where we're going? You're gathering additional information to help your technician at Affordable Transmissions know where to start. Based on your car and the tech's experience, he'll know where to look and can start with the obvious suspects.

    You can see how that would be more helpful than dropping the car off with a note that says "making a funny noise."

    If the tech can experience the problem personally, he's better able to make a diagnosis and repair and then test to see if the repair solved the problem.

    Ask us for details.

    Affordable Transmissions
    31533 125 1/2 Street
    PRINCETON, MN 55371
    (763) 533-1169

    Service Center Standard and Procedures

    May 17, 2016

    All MN pilots have checklists for every aspect of flying. They always use their checklists even if they only have two steps on them. They do this simply because a checklist is a great way to not forget steps. It is also how they can assure a predictable outcome.

    That is why PRINCETON automotive service centers including Affordable Transmissions have procedural standards for each service they perform. Affordable Transmissions technicians are trained step by step. And they perform the procedures step by step, the same way each time. By training to procedural standards, MN service centers can assure a quality outcome. The job is done right every time and PRINCETON customers leave happy with how their vehicle performs.

    Each company trains its technicians to standards. The MN automotive industry as a whole is very committed to standards of excellence and encourages individual MN service center operators to apply them to every vehicle they service.

    An example is how Affordable Transmissions grades problems and communicates their recommendations. If your service advisor tells you that a repair or replacement is required it must meet the following criteria:

    The part no longer performs its intended purpose
    The part does not meet a design specification
    The part is missing

    They may suggest repair or replacement:

    If the part is close to the end of its useful life - just above discard specifications or likely to fail soon
    To address a customer need or request - like for better ride or increased performance
    To comply with maintenance recommended by the vehicle manufacturer
    Based on the technician's informed experience

    Here are some examples:

    An exhaust pipe has rusted through and is leaking. Replacement is recommended because the part has failed. If the pipe were rusted, corroded or weak but not leaking, the technician may suggest it be replaced because it is near the end of its useful life and replacing it now may be more convenient for the customer.

    Suppose a customer wants to improve his car's handling, but his shocks haven't failed. The may suggest replacement of the shocks to satisfy the customer's wishes.

    Under these guidelines the PRINCETON car repair shop must refuse partial service of a required repair if the repair creates or continues an unsafe condition.

    Let's say a customer has a cracked brake rotor. This is a dangerous condition that must be repaired. If the customer does not want to replace the rotor but instead just wants new brake pads installed, the shop must ethically refuse the partial repair. That can be an upsetting conversation, but understanding that PRINCETON service centers operate under service standards and procedures is comforting. You want your service to be done right and to have confidence in your technician's recommendations.

    The MN automotive service industry and Affordable Transmissions want the best for you and for you to keep coming back.

    Affordable Transmissions
    31533 125 1/2 Street
    PRINCETON, MN 55371
    (763) 533-1169