- Subject: Delayed engagements, sluggish shifting when hot
- Unit: F5A51
- Vehicle Application: 2003 Kia Sedona
- Essential Reading: Rebuilder, Shop Owner, Center Manager, Diagnostician
- Author: Bob Hunter
“My transmission still isn’t working right!”
Most of us have gotten that call after car delivery from a customer with a recently installed rebuilt or remanufactured transmission.
Immediately, we have a customer-service issue and perhaps a technical problem with the goods or services that were purchased. So, no matter how big or small your company is, customer-service and technical-support staff will need to be involved. Our goals have always been that customer service and tech support work closely with one another and try to stay on the same page when resolving these types of problems.
We recently got a call on our tech line from a customer who had bought an F5A51 unit for a 2003 Kia Sedona. Their sole concerns were delayed engagements and sluggish shifting when hot. The vehicle was in a remote location several hundred miles away. After going through our trouble tree, we determined that this customer had an internal transmission issue.
We opted to have the transmission removed and shipped back to us for what we call an “IAU” (inspect and advise the unit). The transmission arrived the next day and was put on our test stand.
It worked perfectly. No delays, great cooler flow and pressure. We were monitoring the performance at 180°. The load on the unit was increased slowly, and testing continued flawlessly until temperature reached 183°. Then it happened!
The engagements became delayed and the shift shock during the shifts lessened, indicating a confirmation of the customer concerns. We reduced the load enough to have the test run at 180°, and the symptoms went away.
We pulled it off the machine and sent it to the bench of our production manager for inspection and fault determination.
He did a complete teardown to the last bolt and seal. His report indicated no problem found. Everything appeared perfect. Oh, great! This might be a tough problem to find at an ambient shop temperature of 67°. All surfaces were rechecked for flatness – nothing.
We do several valve-body updates for F5A50 series, but we had not begun changing accumulator pistons in the F5s as a standard replacement item. Although the accumulator pistons and their respective bores showed no wear, we replaced all the pistons with the Sonnax updated design.
Back to the test stand for another run. Good at 180°. Good at 182°. We turned the load up and ran the unit at 195°. It worked flawlessly. Finally, the Sonnax pistons were removed and the OEM pistons reinstalled in their respective bores. The problem came back at 182-183°. The problem area and the fix were verified. We shipped the unit back to the customer the day after it came in. The customer has reported that all is good at this time during our follow-up calls.
This customer was pleased with the service level he received. When customer-service support and technical support combine forces to execute a quick and positive solution, it’s easy to renew the trust with your customer. After all, when he first came to you he didn’t really want to buy a transmission; he wanted to buy a solution to his problem. He wanted results. In most instances, customers do not care about parts. They do not care about what you have to go though to fix their vehicle. The same message applies if you get a callback from a customer.
What they do care about is getting their vehicle fixed at the price you told them and at the time you said it was going to be done. Of course, it has to work.
If they drive off and notice that something isn’t quite right, have you broken your promise to them to provide a solution? That is the time when a customer really begins to wonder what kind of company he has dealt with. He may begin to think about the amount of money he just spent with you. He may think about a lot of things at that point.
That is the time to refresh and renew his confidence in your company. Always view his vehicle as the most-important job on your lot. Do the right thing. Get him on the road quickly. Show him that he is very important to you even after you’ve collected for the job. Take care of him and he will reward you with referrals in the future.
Make the customer-service dream a reality and you will have customers for life.
Bob Hunter is warranty manager of Transmission Remanufacturing Co.