Buy, Lease, or Own:

Affordably Owning a Vehicle in an Uncertain Economy

With uncertain financial times ahead of us, many people are opting to keep their current vehicle rather than take on a new car bill.  Keeping your current car can be a smart and affordable way to help manage your expenses while maintaining your ability to get around.

While public transportation might be the most affordable method for transportation it just isn’t an option for many.  In most areas, mass transportation is only available in the city.  And when they do, they are a dubbed a “park and ride”, meaning you drive to the bus stop. This means that if you live in the suburbs you almost definitely need a vehicle.

In recent weeks, as a matter of public health, many public transportation authorities are being forced to cut the number of buses or train rides offered.  Which now makes it difficult for people who typically could utilize public transportation to rely on it.

Leasing a Car

If you want the luxury of a new car without the big price tag, leasing a car can be a more affordable way to go.  However, if or when things do get a bit tight financially, you still have the monthly burden of a car payment.  Before signing a lease, carefully read through the contract and talk to the finance specialist at the dealership to make sure options like deferring a month’s payment are included.

Buying a Used Car

If you don’t yet have a car, this can be one of the most affordable methods of getting one.  Be sure to purchase the vehicle through a reputable dealer.  Also, do your research on the actual vehicle you are considering purchasing to determine whether it has been in previous accidents.  Do your research to find out what this car should cost for the age and mileage that is has on it.  And lastly, make sure you fully understand the terms of the sales agreement.

Keeping your Clunker

If you do have a vehicle, keeping it running is the most affordable and safe option in this uncertain market.  Regardless of whether your car is a clunker or in great shape, investing in your car now can keep it on the road for many miles to come.  Simple routine maintenance is the most assured way of spotting potential problems before they happen and keeping repair bills low.

Is your car making a noise?  Does it have a certain smell when you turn the engine over?  Are you worried about a potential problem or need to have something fixed?  Give us a call and let our staff help you keep your car in tip top shape…and your wallet too!

frozen windshield wipers | common winter car problems | duramax transmissions

5 Common Winter Car Problems + How To Avoid Them

Taking care of your car can be quite a hassle at times, but with a few simple steps, you can ensure your vehicle will run smoothly throughout the wintertime. We’ve taken the time to list out 5 of the most common winter car problems along with tips to avoid them.

Decreased Tire Pressure

Cold temperatures cause tire flattening over time, so it is best to check your tire pressure regularly. Using the manual for your car, make sure the tires are in the acceptable range. This will not only increase the efficiency of the vehicle but also help when driving under less-than-ideal weather conditions.

Ice in Fuel Line

We recommend keeping the gas tank half full during the winter because some tanks can develop ice from moisture in the air. Even if this isn’t motivation enough, you never know when a storm or other catastrophe will occur. As the saying goes, it’s best to be safe than sorry. So, don’t run your car on an empty gas tank this holiday season.

Spark Plug Degradation

Going to work in the morning may take a lot longer with the time to scrape ice off the windows. However, this does not mean it’s a good idea to let your car warm up. Doing so can cause a myriad of problems ranging from wasted fuel to damaged spark plugs. Cars were not meant to idle for long periods of time, so we recommend investing in some de-ice spray if scraping is a difficult task.

Frozen Windshield Wipers

Do you ever see streaks on your windshield when using the wipers? This is a sign that your current wipers are getting old and inefficient. Take the hint, and replace them so as to prevent issues during inclement weather. Newer wipers are also able to handle the temperature drop better because they have fewer cracks for moisture to build up.

Dead Batteries

No one wants to end up stranded on the side of the road with a dead car battery. Make sure your battery is charged and thus able to handle tougher starts in the cold. It may even be a good idea to keep an extra battery in the garage for future use. Even still, always have jumper cables in your trunk in case your battery does die.


We aren’t sharing these common winter car problems to scare you. Instead, we want you to be as prepared as possible and have a safe, enjoyable holiday season. So, take our advice and check out these simple things to avoid issues in the cold weather.


If you have any questions, give us a call at (503) 363-6888. Happy Holidays!

Winter Driving – What it takes to be safe and prepared

Winter Driving – Make a List, Check it Twice


No one wants to be stranded with no battery power and no jumper cables. Keep the necessary supplies with you, and check battery life before any winter driving. If you don’t have a multimeter or voltmeter, bring it to your auto repair shop for a full pre-winter driving check.


Running out of gas isn’t too bad in the summer because, worst case scenario, you can wait for a friend to bring over a couple gallons. In the winter, though, you’ll need some way to keep warm during that wait. Fuel is what allows your car to run and blow nice, cozy, hot air. So, don’t let the needle get to the “E.” In fact, keep it above a quarter tank if possible.

Coolant / Antifreeze

Always keep a 50-50 ratio of water to coolant in the radiator. Some may say, “Just go all in! 100% coolant!” But, the mix of water and coolant has a lower freezing point which is especially necessary for the cold season. When in doubt, check the freeze rating of the coolant you use at the gas station or by purchasing a device from your local auto part shop.


Does it really matter to have snow tires when you have all-wheel or four-wheel drive? Yes. Just because your car is built for somewhat inclement weather doesn’t mean seasonal tires won’t give you increased efficiency and control. Most cars encounter 30% better braking power with the right tires for winter. Also, tire pressure is critical. Your tires are rated for a particular pressure level, so keep it in that range. If you’re unsure, have the shop regulate it for you to be extra safe.

Windshield Wipers

No one wants to be stuck in the middle of a downpour or snowstorm with old, poor-functioning wipers. Take a look at them as the seasons change, and replace them if needed. Glaring sun that’s lower on the horizon also means you want your windshield nice and clean for good visibility.


Obstructed views through any vehicle window is illegal in most states. Confirm that your defroster is functioning properly before it causes you to be late for work. This way, when your local police officer drives by, you’ll get a smile instead of spinning lights.


Have the shop look at your brakes so you’ll be set regardless of what mother nature throws at you. Know if you have anti-lock brakes or not because that changes how you’re supposed to drive in inclement weather which we’ll talk about next.

Take it Slow, Rudolph

Driving in the snow and ice is dangerous. If you can avoid it, do. But, if you must do some winter driving, follow these tips and techniques to be as safe as possible.

Use Snow Tires

Why? All-wheel or four-wheel drive are just helpful mechanisms but don’t guarantee the amount of traction needed for all bad weather. As stated earlier, you’ll have close to 30% better braking power with the proper tires.

Drive Slowly

When it’s snowing outside or there’s ice on the roads, passing should not be anyone’s highest priority. Make sure to leave plenty of space between you and other drivers and slow down before getting to intersections. That way, the light may turn green by the time you arrive so you don’t have to stop completely and start from a standstill. For the same reason, keep inertia for going uphill and brake lightly on the way down.

Know Your Brakes

Stomp on antilock brakes, pump on non-antilock brakes. Also, don’t use your emergency/parking brake if you can avoid it because it’s at a high risk of freezing when implemented.

Warming Up Your Car – Yes or No?

Some people think you must heat up the car before it can drive well. That’s not true. These days, cars are more technologically advanced and no longer rely on the engines being warmed up to go. However, it may help to have heat involved for defrosting. If you are going to heat up the car for this or any other reason, don’t do so in an enclosed space. This will prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

A Few Last Notes—

Always get enough sleep before taking the wheel, have a designated driver if you’re drinking, and keep your eyes peeled for pedestrians.

Winter driving may be daunting, but the necessary preparations go a long way to keep you and everyone else safe.

Duramax Transmissions is here for you, so don’t hesitate to give us a call at (503)363-6888 or Click Here to Contact Us.

Happy Holidays and Safe Driving!

black car red barn at farm - Transmission Repair Salem Oregon

Transmission Repair – Fluid Leak

Transmission Repair

A transmission leak is one of those minor repairs that should be done immediately. There are severe consequences for neglecting to set up immediate transmission repair for a leak.  Once you notice the leak, keep in mind that a smaller leak is easier to fix than a larger leak.  And the leak will continue to get larger if left alone.


There are many causes of transmission leaks.  A mechanic would need to determine if there is a gap somewhere in the transmission, a leak in the pan, a nick or crack in the fluid line due to road debris or heat, loose or broken seals, etc.

Signs, Symptoms

The most common sign of a transmission fluid leak is a red oil stain on the pavement where your vehicle was parked. If the transmission fluid gets too low you will notice bucking, slipping out of gear, or high RPMs without accelerating. There are multiple causes of a leak, from the oil pan to the torque converter, and it can be difficult to find out where exactly it’s coming from.

Inspection & Repair

If your vehicle exhibits these symptoms, repair the transmission immediately, do not drive any further. If left unattended a transmission leak can leave you stranded.

This is our specialty so give us a call and schedule your transmission check, maintenance, or repair!

Duramax Transmissions: 503.363.6888

car pedals - clutch maintenance

When do I need Clutch Service?

Clutch Maintenance

A clutch typically lasts anywhere from 30,000 to 150,000 miles before needing serviced, depending on the habits of the driver. There are are a few things that can cause a clutch to fail and we are going to go through some of the signs so that you can get your clutch maintenance as soon as is needed.

Sticky Clutch

A sticky clutch occurs when you need to press hard on the clutch pedal to get it to engage. This is caused by a failure in the hydraulic links, which causes a hydraulic leak that needs to be repaired.

Slipping Gears

If your vehicle slips out of gear for no apparent reason that is a sign of wear and usually requires a clutch replacement. It could also mean there’s an oil leak from the crankshaft.

Noisy Shifting or Jerking

You might hear strange noises when shifting gears, or the vehicle may jerk into gear with proper clutch use. This typically indicates oil or other contaminates on the gears or clutch. Failing to address this issue will cause wear on the clutch and cause more damage later on.

Burning Odor

A foul burning smell while driving can be caused by friction produced by a worn out clutch, resulting in overheating. This is typically caused by riding the clutch, the most common bad driving habit for manual transmissions. Have your vehicle seen to immediately.

Now you know how to pay attention to your clutch and what may contribute to the need for more regular clutch maintenance.

Here at Duramax, we pride ourselves in quality and timely service. If you have questions for us, please call (503) 363-6888 or contact us here.

Transmission Fluid

Regular Transmission Fluid Checks

Transmission Fluid Checks & Maintenance

Checking your transmission is an important part of vehicle maintenance, so you should develop a routine of checking your transmission fluid regularly to detect any problems.  This will also help you avoid leaks and low fluid levels. Follow these easy steps to check the transmission yourself:

  1. Prepare a clean white cloth
  2. Park the vehicle on a level surface. If your car sits on an incline, you’ll get an inaccurate reading on the dipstick.
  3. Start the vehicle and allow it to warm up, unless the owner’s manual states otherwise.   (Note:  Some vehicles gain an accurate reading differently).
  4. Pop the hood and locate the transmission fluid dipstick (check your owner’s manual).
  5. Caution, fluid may be hot! Carefully pull out the dipstick, wipe clean, and re-insert. Pull out the dipstick again and note the markings. There should two marks, an upper and lower fluid limit. The fluid line should be between the two markings. If the fluid is below the lower mark, you’ll need to add more fluid to avoid problems.
    • Refilling fluid: Carefully add your fluid to the transmission reservoir, using a funnel will make it easier. Continually recheck the dipstick to ensure it does not overfill.
  6. Check Color, Smell, and Consistency
    • Color: Transmission fluid needs to be bright to dark red or light brown in color. The newer the fluid, the brighter red it will be. Fluid that is a dark brown color indicates you should get a fluid change, and a black color can be a sign of transmission problems.
    • Smell: New transmission fluid is odorless or clean smelling. You or your mechanic needs to check out any burning smell immediately.
    • Consistency:  You will notice signs of car trouble in the consistency of transmission fluid so look for visible shavings or large particles. You can also tell that the wrong fluid was used if it appears foamy. If your transmission fluid is a thick consistency, don’t worry, that is sign of healthy fluid.

When you’re done, reinsert the dipstick and close the hood. Now you know how to check your transmission fluid for better car maintenance and prevention.

Call Duramax Transmissions for an expert opinion:  503.363.6888.  Visit us @

Tire Maintenance = $ Saved

Buying new tires for your vehicle is an expense we’d all like to avoid as much as possible. Luckily, there are some simple tire maintenance tasks and driving habits you can practice to
extend the life of your tires.

Tire MainOld rusted truck tire showing poor tire maintenance.tenance

Check your tire pressure about once a month. Having the proper amount of pressure ensures against a blowout, reduces tread wear, and also prevents getting fewer miles to the gallon due to under-inflated tires. Check tire pressure in the morning while it’s still cool to get a more accurate reading. You can find the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle on the driver’s side door jam. Never follow what’s written on the side of the tire, this is the maximum amount of pressure the tire can handle.

About every 5,000 miles or six months your tire maintenance should include rotating and balancing your tires to make sure they wear evenly. You can also check how often the automaker suggests rotation for your particular vehicle. Rotation is especially important for front or rear-wheel drive, when the front or back tires take the most toll. Balancing tires ensures that the heavy spots in each tire do not cause unnecessary wear and vibration. At the same time, you can also adjust the alignment of your suspension, which can cause the tires to rotate inward or outward and cause uneven wear on the tread.

And take a look at your tires. Notice if the tread is wearing low or if there are cracks in the sidewall. These can be indicators that it’s time to purchase new tires.

Driving Habits

How you drive can have a big effect on the longevity of your tires. The most important things to be aware of are starting and stopping. When starting, do not accelerSky blue Volkswagon Bug with beautiful tires and white wheels - great tire maintenance!ate too fast. The black marks on the road are caused by little bits of rubber coming off of your tire. When stopping, don’t brake to hard. This can also cause rubber to peel off of the tire. It is best to accelerate easily and brake steadily and not too fast when possible.

Tire Storage

Whether they’re mounted on your car or stacked in the garage, it’s important to store tires properly if you want them to last longer. Experts say the best place is out of the sun, away form ozone, and in a stable temperature environment. Ozone is caused by things like electric motors and furnaces, so be aware of what’s in your garage. If you’re removing the tires from your vehicle, place them in a plastic bag (airtight if possible) and stand them upright to prevent extra strain.  It’s also a good idea to clean your tires regularly and keep them dry.