In the United States, it’s common practice to increase the longevity of automatic gearboxes by flushing the gearbox oil. Stuart White of Car Care Maintenance in Surrey has been looking to add this ‘while you wait’ service as he sees an increasing number of these transmissions into the workshop in vehicles such as the VW Touareg, Land Rover Discovery 3, BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne. Having seen a couple of examples of transmission flushing equipment in action, one of which was £500 to buy outright on eBay and another was a pay-as-you-go arrangement, Stuart was keen to see what Wynn’s had to offer with the TRANSERV® machine.
IN A NUTSHELL, WHAT DOES THE TRANSERV DO?
“It changes almost 100% of the oil in the automatic gearbox. Normally, if you drop the sump plug and drain the oil and refill it, you’ll only get 40-50% of the oil out – a lot of it is contained within areas of the gearbox that don’t naturally drain. The TranSERV® does an oil transfer so you break into the cooler lines normally, so as the fluid comes to the cooler, it passes into the machine, is measured and puts the same amount back in. It has a gear pump that can only transfer an equal amount. It’s a very safe way of doing it. You put a flush in it first, so it operates while the engine is running and flush it through the gears, then you go the refill cycle and fill the gearbox up with the fresh oil and you should get 98-99% replacement of oil.”
This is a vast improvement over the traditional draining method in terms of efficiency but Stuart also points out
the cost and labour implications… “I had a Porsche in the week before I received the TranSERV ® machine. There was a problem that wasn’t related to the gearbox but we wanted to change the oil while it was here and I think we did 3 oil changes. Instead of 10 litres of fluid, I think we used 16 or 18 and it’s about £21 a litre.”
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS TO THE VEHICLE?
“People have to be realistic, if you have a major gearbox problem it’s not going to fix it, it really needs to be a service item. If you speak to most people who know anything about it, they’ll say the oil in the gearbox needs to be changed around 60-80,000 miles. What you should see is less wear so you should increase the life of the gearbox, you’ll also help prevent problems with gear shifting, give a smoother gear change, also helping to keep the gearbox cool – because the oil breaks down and picks up the wear particles. In the U.S., they have the kit to measure the amount of contamination in the gear oil in the workshop. The 2006 Porsche we had in, it had done
about 80,000 miles and been well looked after – it belongs to a friend of mine so I know the history of it. when you looked at the oil, I wouldn’t have said it looked that bad.
When we connected it to the machine, we used a piece of clear tube so you could clearly see the change in colour and it was quite a difference. The vehicle had a slight gear shifting issue, Porsche Cayenne’s are known for this. The cost of repair on that would be somewhere between £3-4,500. They are difficult for parts, there’s a limit to the supply so they’re expensive to do. He had thought about getting rid of it but decided to keep it and repair if he had to, so we decided to do this as an experiment.
“I drove it and saw an improvement. We also reset the adaptions to start from as much as a fresh slate as we
could. Initially it was a bit jerky, which is quite usual after the reset. I probably did about 100 miles in it and I found it better by the time I drove it back to the workshop.
“I’d like to promote this as a service item, it’s really what people should be doing. I don’t want to be taking a gearbox out and stripping it down, I’d much rather be changing the oil and making sure it’s good. Ideally, we’d be
doing a filter change on the gearbox at the same time – that’s going to depend on the customer because with the
cost of the oil, on a big SUV, you’d be talking £300-400 cost for an oil service, although we’ve heard rumours that the manufacturers are charging up to £1,200 to do this.
CAN YOU JUSTIFY THIS ADDITIONAL SERVICE TO YOUR CUSTOMERS?
“If you look at a transmission repair, you can easily be looking upwards of £4-5,000. The oil in an automatic
transmission is not just lubricant, it’s also cooling and hydraulically operates the system. Especially with the modern gearboxes, it’s complicated, where there’s a mechatronic unit in the gearbox. Any contamination is going to cause problems – tiny little valves, all the electronics… A lot of people aren’t aware of how these systems work, it’s a series of wet clutches and those clutches do wear and this contaminates the oil, even at a low mileage you see signs of wear.”
Stuart say’s it’s not uncommon to see mileages of 150,000 plus on the SUVs that utilise these transmissions and they will still have a value of around £10,000, so he sees this as a beneficial service for his customers, to maintain these systems and prevent potential problems.
“There’s bit of work to do in educating customers, but I think the sales pitch is, you’re only going to do it once in the time you own that vehicle. If you are the second owner of that vehicle and its done between 40,000 and 80,000 miles the chances are it won’t have been done and if you do, there’s a good chance that transmission will see you through the time you own it.”
HOW WILL YOU COMMUNICATE THIS NEW SERVICE TO YOUR CUSTOMERS?
“We’ll search on our customer database for the target vehicles, we’ll write to them with an offer and brief explanation as to why we think they should have it done, with the cost and benefits.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE RETURN ON INVESTMENT WILL BE ON THE EQUIPMENT?
“The unit costs around £3,800. Once you know what you are doing, I think you could get the work time down to an hour. It takes a certain amount of time for the machine to do what it needs to, like an zircon machine, but you don’t have to be standing over it. You’d probably want to be working on that vehicle, doing the brakes or the tyres. We think you should be charging between £350-400 judging on what other people are selling it for, I would guess your costs would be less than £100 for oil, automatic transmission flush, filters and gasket – if you did the full lot. I reckon the return on the machine would be 20-30 jobs. For most people, I’d expect that to take around 18 months.”
“I really like it and I’m not often that impressed. It’s a very simple machine and Wynn’s are obviously a big company with plenty of backup and they were great to deal with. They’re constantly looking ate the development of their tools – you need different connectors for different vehicles and that’s the bit that could cause problems. The machine came with two kits and they have people working in the UK that use the machine and patent additional connectors as an ongoing process.
“I can’t see how they could have made it any simpler to use, I was surprised how easy it was. It wasn’t much more complicated than doing an aircon service, which is now run of the mill. The process is automated and will get to a certain phase and then stop and will be safe to leave until you are ready for the next.”
For more information on TRANSERV®, call Wynn’s on 02476 472 634.