Every transmission technician or service advisor who’s been in the business for more than a few months has heard this request at least once: “Tighten the bands.” It’s reached nearly legendary status in the industry.

What does “tighten the bands” mean? The technical answer goes like this:

In some transmissions, part of the operating controls include “bands”: metal straps with friction material on one side. When applied, the bands tighten around drive components to hold them in place. To apply exactly right, those bands needed to be adjusted properly.

Automatic Transmission Band Service

Transmission band adjustment used to be a regular part of a basic transmission service. Not so much any more: While the bands are still adjustable, the adjustment is usually part of a rebuild and doesn’t need to be performed again during the transmission’s operating lifetime.

So why would a customer ask the center to “tighten the bands”?Tighten The Bands - Cottman Man - Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care

Usually it means the customer noticed the transmission wasn’t behaving normally. But if he asked the center to diagnose and repair the problem, he figured it’d cost him a bundle. So instead of letting the center know what’s wrong and giving them a fighting chance to repair it, he tries to bypass the normal diagnose-and-repair procedure by getting them to make a few “simple” adjustments.

Unfortunately, it rarely works. Even in those older cars, transmission band adjustment was maintenance — something you did before a problem showed up. Once the transmission started acting up, it was generally too late.

Today it’s not even a likely scenario: Adjusting the bands is far more involved than it was in the old days, and the likelihood of it correcting a noticeable problem is virtually nonexistent.

What’s more, with today’s computer control systems, the chances are good that your “transmission” problem has nothing to do with the transmission. It may need something as simple as replacing a fuse or repairing a loose connection.

Ask If You Actually Need A Band Adjustment

Your best choice is always to explain the problem you noticed in as much detail as possible, and let the center’s technicians do their jobs. Your nearby Cottman center’s technicians are well versed in diagnosing today’s transmissions and will work with you to take care of them.

And, when you bring your car to your local Cottman center, you can be sure you’ll never pay for a transmission unless you really need a transmission. If they can fix your problem by doing something simpler — and cheaper! — they will… that’s something you can count on.