True story: A customer brings his car to a repair shop and asks for a wheel alignment. After the alignment’s done, the customer comes by to pick up his car. While he’s paying the bill, he says to the service writer, “Well, let’s hope that takes care of the vibration I was getting at 50 MPH!”

Um, no, it probably won’t. Improper wheel alignment generally won’t cause a high speed vibration. That’s almost always a wheel balance problem.

So the customer spent a lot of money for a service that won’t fix his complaint. The shop did nothing wrong: They performed the service the customer asked for, and did it extremely well. The problem was that they didn’t know there was a problem, so they had no idea they were trying to fix something.

Think that’s a one-ism? Something unusual? Ask any service or repair technician in pretty much any industry: They all have similar stories… stories that end with customers paying for work they didn’t really need, all because they tried to diagnose the problem instead of trying to explain the problem.

Sometimes it works… sometimes the technician is smart enough to question the request and learn what the problem is… and sometimes it just ends badly for everyone.

There are a lot of reasons this happens: Sometimes it’s because the customer thinks he knows about cars. Other times it’s because the customer is hoping to avoid paying for diagnosis, so he tries to bypass that part of the procedure.

If he guesses right, terrific. But guessing isn’t a good diagnostic strategy. If that’s your thing, try going to the track: If you win, you’ll be ahead, and if you lose, well, at least you had fun.

But when it comes to car problems, you’re better off letting the technicians do their jobs. Explain the situation and let them handle the diagnosis and repair. It’s what they do.

The technicians at Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care are well versed in today’s cars and trucks, and they understand the systems that keep them running. Explain the problem to them and let them handle the diagnosis. You’ll get better repairs and save money in the long run.

You just picked your car up from the shop; the bill was $120, and it doesn’t run any better now than it did when you came in.

That’s not so surprising, since there wasn’t really anything wrong with it when you brought it in. It was in for maintenance.

But that has to get you thinking: Why pay for work when there’s nothing really wrong with the car? What about the whole, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality? Does maintenance really make any sense?

Yeah, it does. And in most cases the money you spend on maintenance will save you way more than that in the long run.

Back in the early ’70s, Fram oil filters used to run a famous ad that closed with the tag line, “You can pay me now or pay me later.” It showed a guy leaving a shop; he’d just paid $400 for a ring job on his car (that was a lot of money in the ’70s!) According to the announcer, the reason he needed a ring job was because he didn’t spend $12.95 to have his oil and filter changed (again, ’70s!)

But even though the prices seem outlandish by today’s standards, the message remains the same: Servicing your car regularly is the best way to avoid a heavy repair bill later. That $400 ring job? Today it’d be closer to $4000. Sure, the oil-and-filter change costs a bit more today, but it’s still the best way to avoid those major repairs later.

Regular maintenance also helps keep your car more dependable, since a new hose or belt is less likely to break than an old, worn out one. And clean battery terminals will help your car start easier than one with a mountain of corrosion piling up.

What’s more, if you do have a problem later on, finding and repairing it will probably be easier and cost a lot less. Finding a problem on a well-maintained car is easier for the technician, because the damaged item stands out more clearly than on a car where everything’s filthy and tired.

Finally, maintaining your car can affect its value later on. When you decide to sell it or trade it in, those service receipts prove that you kept your car up, and that translates into more value on the back end.

So, while the numbers from yesteryear may be laughable, the message remains true: You can pay me now or pay me later. A little maintenance is a terrific way to avoid big expenses and trouble down the road.

When gas prices began their historic rise over the $4-a-gallon threshold, sales of cars with manual transmissions began to increase for the first time in over 20 years. No great surprise there, as manual transmissions have historically been more efficient than automatics.

But that was based on a different time, when automatic transmissions only had two or three speeds, and their torque converters put a constant slip between the engine and the drive wheels. Back then, even the least experienced driver could expect to save 10% or more by driving a manual transmission.

Today, not so much. Because today’s automatic transmissions are a far cry from those of yesteryear, in terms of performance and efficiency.

To begin with, every automatic transmission being offered today is an overdrive transmission. That lowers the engine RPM in the higher gear ranges. Many of today’s automatics provide four, six, and even eight gear ratios, to provide better performance at cruising speeds.

In addition, the slip that was inherent in the torque converters of old has been eliminated with a lockup clutch. The clutch locks the engine to the transmission, providing a more efficient connection between the engine and the wheels.

Even the difference in weight has gotten closer, as today’s automatics are lighter than the old, cast iron transmissions of the past.

Sure, but what about repair costs? A clutch job is a lot cheaper than rebuilding an automatic, right? Well, yes. But then again, most automatics today will last two or three times longer than a clutch. So, over the course of the vehicle’s life, the replacement cost will even out.

Finally, a car equipped with an automatic transmission generally holds its value better than one with a manual transmission, and will usually be easier to sell when the time comes.

Of course, a manual transmission may be more fun to drive… although many of today’s automatics come with paddle shift capability, providing you with the same interaction as a manual transmission… without having to work a clutch.

So, generally speaking, manual transmissions are no more efficient than today’s automatics, and over time may end up costing you more for repairs. Keep that in mind before you consider shopping for your next car.

If you’ve ever had your car at a quick lube or the auto department at your local big box store, you’ve probably seen the signs offering to service your car’s transmission. Which begs the questions: Should you let them do it, or should you bring your car to a transmission specialist?

Generally speaking, when it’s time to have your transmission serviced, you’ll always be better off taking your car to a transmission specialist, such as your local Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care center.

Of course, that begs the question: Why? Why can’t a general repair shop handle a transmission service? After all, it’s just about draining out the old oil and replacing it with new, right?

Not exactly. Oh, sure, in the simplest terms, a transmission service is about changing the oil. But that’s really only a small part of the process.

The more important issue is about knowing what to look for. Is the old oil really burnt or just a little worn out? Is the material in the bottom of the sump indicate a problem or is it just from normal wear? And should you really be paying for a service… or is it too late for that?

These are important questions, and they go way beyond the simple “drain out the old oil and replacing it with new” mentality. Those questions require technical expertise that’s well beyond that of the average oil change worker. It requires the eye of a true transmission expert… like the ones at your nearby Cottman center.

So, before you ask the folks at your local quick lube or big box store to service your car’s transmission, consider whether they can offer you the knowledge and the experience to be sure your transmission is in good condition. Then give your local Cottman center a call.

To View this Article online click here  

Q and A with Derik Beck – Vice President of Digital Marketing

What is your professional background?

Throughout my career, I have held various management roles within global organizations and within those roles I had the opportunity to lead interactive web projects, launched corporate and product websites, oversaw social media programs, including public relations efforts and have forged strong partnerships with key outside partners. My current position is vice president of digital marketing for Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care.

How has your background prepared you for your current role with Cottman?

Currently, I oversee all digital aspects specifically for Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care including SEO, social media and the national and local franchise websites. My responsibilities also include leading public relations and marketing efforts for the Cottman brand, budgeting P&L, as well as assisting in franchise development efforts.

How does Cottman differentiate itself from other auto repair franchises in the U.S.?

With franchised locations across the U.S., Cottman is a transmission and auto repair brand that services almost any make or model vehicle, foreign or domestic. Our services include complete transmission service, brakes, suspension, air conditioning service and more. As for the ways that our brand differentiates itself, we always make it a point to put our loyal customers and the community first. Not only do we commit ourselves to giving our customers excellent auto repair experience, we also have close ties to the community. Most of our franchisees are closely involved with their local charities, non-profits and hospitals. The way we see it, we cannot become a true community partner unless we are fully immersed within our neighborhoods and striving to make them a better place all-around.

Where do you see Cottman in the next five years?

In five years, we see Cottman only further solidifying its reputation as one of the nation’s most trusted auto repair centers. Since the brand’s founding in 1962, we have been welcomed into more than 50 communities throughout the nation and look forward to working with our centers on expanding their neighborhood footprint.

Who is your typical franchisee?

Our typical franchisee is passionate about owning a business and working within their respective community. While a person does not need to have mechanical or technical experience, they do need to be customer service oriented. Additionally, a franchisee should have an entrepreneurial drive and a desire to control their own destiny through business ownership.

What type of support does Cottman provide its franchise partners?

When a franchisee joins the Cottman team, they also gain a wide range of support from our dedicated home office and franchise system. We take great pride in giving our franchisees one-on-one attention, an excellent franchise training program and full marketing and PR support.

Do you have any advice for our readers who are exploring franchise opportunities?

When choosing the best franchise to invest in, it is imperative to make sure that the franchise’s mission statement is one that you can get behind and advocate for. Also, perhaps the most important piece of advice, is to ensure that the franchise you are committing yourself is something you can see doing for years to come. A franchise can be turn out to be a life-long commitment, so you want to ensure you make a wise investment for the long-term.

Could you tell us about Cottman’s Educational Video Series?

The Cottman Man Educational Video Series was released back in February, and we added additional videos for April in honor of National Car Care Month. Featuring the brand’s signature Cottman Man as an animated character into the videos provide user-friendly tips on topics relating to car care, such how to address annual car service needs, routine maintenance, road trip precautions and many more relevant consumer preventative and proactive car care tips. He’s an image of the very best in each of us: our centers and ourselves. And he’s someone we want to emulate every day in our centers, all across the country. Presenting him as an animated character for our web sites allows us to breathe new life into our most cherished concept: serving the motoring community.

We created this video series as a fun and informative way for our loyal and growing base of customers to learn more about how to avoid car problems, and what to do if they occur. Putting the animated Cottman Man to work in these short videos helps to demystify car care for our customers by solving common car problems. We strive everyday to garner respect from our consumers, and the video series is a sincere way for us to show the depths to which we care.

The video series can be found at

Where can we keep up with Cottman over social media?





In Celebration of Summer and Road Trip Season, Auto Repair Brand Releases Money-Saving Strategies

As car owners shift gears and transition into summer, it is also time to plan all types of getaways to enjoy the season. Whether a weekend escape or a cross-country road trip is on the agenda, fuel efficiency should be top of mind.

Due to lower fuel prices, the American Automobile Association (AAA) just predicted that 2016 will be a record-setting year for gasoline consumption and total miles traveled. In response, Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care, revered across the nation for the honesty and integrity that defines each and every customer experience, today released a list of auto care tips to help drivers save money on fuel.

Covering everything from tire pressure to oil changes, Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care lists best practices to maximize any budget:

Schedule a Pre-Vacation Check: To help avoid car troubles while on the road, a driver should schedule a pre-vacation check. The appointment should include a complete safety check with a thorough underhood check.

Tire Pressure Check: Proper tire pressure helps increase gas mileage. As a matter of fact, it can even improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent.

Use Recommended Motor Oil: Every car owner manual should have the recommended grade of motor oil needed for the automobile. If followed correctly, gas mileage can be improved by 1 to 2 percent.

Another resource available to drivers interested in fuel efficiency is Cottman Man’s Educational Video Series, which was recently released as an informational resource about relevant consumer preventative and proactive car care tips.

“Now that’s time for summer, we get a lot of questions about saving money on fuel. It’s a hot topic because many of our customers are taking extended road trips,” said Derik Beck, vice president of digital marketing for Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care. “For this reason, we take a lot of pride in directly responding to those concerns with some of our most effective suggestions.”

To view The Cottman Man Educational Video Series, visit And, to learn more about Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care, please visit

There’s really no other way to say it: Having a transmission rebuilt or replaced is an expensive proposition. If you’ve had one done recently, the last thing you want is to have to buy another one anytime soon.

That’s okay: There are a lot of things you can do to protect your transmission and keep it working great for years to come.

You probably already know that having your transmission serviced regularly is one way to make sure it stays healthy. But did you know that there are some driving tips that’ll add years to your transmission’s life? It’s true, and most are fairly simple:

  1. Come to a complete stop before shifting gears — You start your car, back out of the driveway, and drop the transmission into drive. Did you wait until your car was stopped, or did you shift into drive while the car was still rolling backward?

If you didn’t wait to come to a stop, you put a lot of stress and wear on the forward clutches. To get more miles out of your transmission, always come to a full stop before shifting directions.

  1. Help it shift — You probably already know that having a heavy foot on the throttle can cost you at the gas pump. But did you know it can also cut miles off your transmission’s life? It can, because the additional torque puts more load on the clutches each time it shifts gears.

To reduce clutch wear and extend your transmission’s life, pay attention to the shift timing. Then, right before the transmission is ready to shift, back off the gas just a bit. The reduced throttle will lighten the load and limit the wear on the clutches.

  1. Anticipate traffic changes — Each time you come to a stop, your transmission shifts back into first gear. Then, to reach cruising speed, it has to shift all the way through the gear ranges again. And each shift means more wear on the transmission.

To reduce that wear, look ahead and anticipate what’s coming. See a red light up ahead? Back off the gas and let the car coast. Maybe the light will change before you get there and reduce the number of shifts necessary to bring the car back to cruising speed.

Simple, right? And those few, simple driving techniques can add years to your transmission. Combine them with a regular maintenance schedule, and there’s a good chance you’ll never have to pay for a new transmission again.

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The event took place at the Texas Roadhouse in Hamilton, New Jersey on May 17. This marked the first of six Cruise Nights. A large crowd attended and enjoyed food, music, and a good time in support of a good cause.

All the proceeds generated by the event went to the Capital K9 Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing ballistic body armor and other safety equipment for police working dogs. Police dogs are a vital part of law enforcement, and their safety contributes to the safety of the community they protect. Three dogs were presented with bulletproof vests thanks to the funds raised by Capital K9 Association.

There will be five more Cruise Nights, all taking place at the Texas Roadhouse in Hamilton from 6pm-10pm. If you want to support your community and the Capital K9 Association, we encourage you to join us on. Don’t miss out on a chance to help protect those who protect us.

Cottman Transmissions is honored to provide support for our community, our police, and their dogs. For more information on the Cruise Nights or this worthy cause go online to

5-25-16 - Cottman of Trenton a proud sponsor of Cruise Nights to benefit the Capital K9 Association - 2

There are dozens of things that can reduce the life of your car’s transmission, from poor driving habits to inadequate service intervals. But the leading cause of damage to automatic transmissions is heat.

The transmission cooler is designed to help extract heat from the transmission: Transmission fluid runs through the cooler, releasing heat to the coolant in the radiator. That coolant, in turn, releases heat to the air passing over the fins. The cooled transmission fluid then returns to the transmission, to keep it running cooler.

For most normal driving, the factory cooler is adequate to keep the transmission safe. But under extreme circumstances you may need more cooling capacity than the factory cooler can provide.

What kind of circumstances? Towing, for one. If you have a camper, trailer, or boat, towing it will increase the heat in your transmission dramatically.

Another source of excess heat involves where you drive. On generally flat roads, the factory cooler should be fine. But if you do a lot of driving on extreme grades, such as through the mountains, your transmission will be working overtime. And if you’re towing a trailer at the same time, well, that could be the kiss of death for your transmission.

In those cases, your best bet is to have an auxiliary transmission cooler added to the system. An auxiliary cooler is like a little radiator that mounts in front of the regular radiator. Transmission fluid gets piped through the cooler to remove more heat than the factory cooler can, and it’ll keep your transmission running cooler in even the most difficult terrain.

Your local Cottman center will be happy to discuss your driving situation, and they’ll let you know whether you should consider adding an auxiliary transmission cooler to your car. And if you do need one, they can get the right one for your specific needs and install it for you.

Heat can be a killer for your transmission, but the folks at your nearby Cottman center can help protect you from that heat, and keep you on the road for miles and miles.

The International Advertising Competition has just announced that Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care has won two categories in the 2016 competition:

The annual competition is the creation of the Web Marketing Association (WMA), an association of “internet marketing, advertising, PR, and design professionals who share an interest for improving the quality of advertising, marketing and promotion used to attract visitors to corporate web sites,” according to their web site.

“Winning these awards is extremely gratifying, as it comes from marketing professionals,” says Sue Burg, Cottman’s senior director of advertising. “These are people who understand what great internet communications should look like, and they found ours to be exceptional.”

Cottman Wins Two Awards - photo of actual awards - Low Res

While most corporate websites focus on sales, the Cottman Man is about people; providing them with a clear explanation of their cars and how to ask for service. This is important because, in any type of service situation, communication is critical for accurate diagnosis and repair.

“Our goal with these sites was to help educate the consumer,” explains Derik Beck, Cottman’s VP of digital marketing. “Cars aren’t the same as they were 20 or 30 years ago, and of course, neither is keeping those cars running dependably. Educated consumers can enjoy more trouble free miles out of their cars, and they can make smarter decisions when they do need repairs.”

“Today’s cars are extremely complex,” explains Cottman President Randy Wright. “There’s no way the average consumer can keep up with the changes taking place. The Cottman Man blog and video series take these highly technical subjects and makes them clear to everyone, regardless of their technical background. It fills a critical need and helps consumers become more comfortable when they need to speak with a technician or service advisor.”

The blog has posts with information on a wide variety of subjects, including service recommendations, preparing for a road trip, saving money on your car, and even how to explain a problem to your local technician. They’re written in a clear and friendly manner, without relying on jargon or acronyms that have no meaning to anyone outside the repair industry.

This isn’t the first time the Cottman Man Blog has been singled out for high praise. It’s actually received two other awards in its short life:

  • 2015 Automotive Communications award from the Car Care Council Women’s Board (WB) and the Automotive Communication Council (ACC)
  • Named Top 50 Automotive and Mechanics Blogs in a list compiled by Direct Capital.

For more information, visit the Cottman Man Blog on line at, or view the Cottman Man Educational Videos on the Cottman web site at