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Archives for November 2016

6 signs of transmission failure and how to prevent them

It’s the phrase every car owner dreads. But never fear; we’re here to help. Read on for signs of transmission failure to prevent damage from occurring and to keep your transmission running like new. Consistent transmission maintenance could save you $1000s.

What is a transmission?

A car’s transmission directs power created by the engine to the drive wheels, which in turn, rotate the wheels. Without a transmission your car doesn’t move. There are roughly more than 800 parts to an automatic transmission, each intricately placed and dependent on each other. Often when one part goes, the whole transmission goes. Hence, the soaring prices to repair a faulty transmission.

Transmission: Signs of Transmission Failure

Your transmission relies on automatic transmission fluid for cooling and lubrication. If you take care of your transmission fluid, your wallet will thank you later.

How to maintain an automatic transmission

First, there are steps you can take to dramatically reduce the risk of transmission failure. Regular maintenance and a vigil eye for warning signs can prevent signs of transmission failure from popping up.

  • Check the level and color of your transmission fluid every few months. Some cars have dipsticks for easy access, but others are closed systems and require a few tools or a mechanic. Refer to your owner’s manual.
  • Change your automatic transmission fluid every 30,000 to 60,000 miles. Make sure the transmission fluid pan is removed, cleaned, and a new filter is installed. Use only manufacturer recommended fluids and fill amounts.
  • Never switch from drive to reverse, or vice versa, while the car is still moving.
  • Accelerate smoothly to allow gears to change at the correct times.

While car repairs are inevitable, following these maintenance tips before any signs of trouble can at least help avoid the more costly ones.

Signs of transmission failure

Deciphering between a failing transmission and a multitude of other ailments your car could have is difficult. Signs of a wearing or under-performing transmission are often hard to miss, since the transmission plays such a vital and noticeable role in the actual movement of your car. The fix could be as simple as adding automatic transmission fluid. But if you notice any of the symptoms listed below, your best bet is to talk to a mechanic as soon as possible.

  1. Burnt or low transmission fluid. Transmission fluid should be a clear red or brown. If it is very dark or thick, have it changed immediately. If your transmission fluid is burnt you may also notice a sweet burning smell.
  2. Slipping or delayed response when accelerating. This can feel like your tires are spinning on ice or you will notice the rpm’s going up without your car moving. Gears should lock in immediately. If you notice a delay when applying pressure to your gas pedal, it is a sign of trouble.
  3. Stalling or refuses to move. This often means that a transmission or another vital component is on its last leg. Your car is unsafe and needs maintenance immediately.
  4. Leaking transmission fluid. If you notice a red liquid on the ground, get it looked at immediately. Low transmission fluid will lead to major transmission wear.
  5. Hard shifting. Automatic shifting is built to be smooth and nearly unnoticeable. If you feel a jerk or shake every time your car shifts, you need someone to inspect your transmission.
  6. Weird sounds when revving and shifting. Wearing transmissions sometimes give off a whining or clunking sound. This means metal is rubbing on metal. Not good.

Do not ignore the above mentioned signs of transmission failure. Early detection is your only chance to save your transmission.

Think Rawhide when it’s time to move on

A broken transmission is often a death sentence for most well-used cars. Costs of transmission repairs and replacements range from $1,000 to $8,000. When the time comes to cut your losses and move onto a more reliable and cost efficient ride, keep Rawhide in mind. We take vehicles in any condition to fund our at-risk youth treatment programs. Your old car can help transform a life at Rawhide.

At-risk teen learns patience at Rawhide

Brad* came to Rawhide as an at-risk teen battling anger issues. He couldn’t manage his strong emotions, causing him to lash out at friends and family. Brad desperately needed help, but where could he turn? For over 50 years the answer has been Rawhide.

It was at Rawhide that he transformed from an angry boy to a compassionate young man, managing his emotions with clarity and strength.

Loving Staff and Great Food

Rawhide was vastly different than Brad’s expectations. He predicted an overly strict environment, but found comfort and consistency thanks in large part to Rawhide’s family centered care. All Rawhide homes have a father and mother figure and set traditional routines to establish consistency and an expected environment. This, combined with the great food helped him to let his guard down and warm to Rawhide’s programs.

One of the first things Brad noticed was the staff’s attention to detail. Reflecting on the love and care he received, he said, “These people will ask questions and make it so that you’re a lot better.” He knew he was finally at a place where everyone  truly cared about him.

The Best Place for an At-Risk Teen

Once Brad adjusted to Rawhide, he learned a lot. “I knew things had to be earned. We always got to go places, but you couldn’t go unless you earned it.” Through accountability, Brad began to develop patience and perseverance, two things he lacked before Rawhide.

Much like fellow Rawhide alumnus Dylan Young, it was the staff that really helped him make the changes necessary to grow and overcome his poor behaviors. “When I look at Rawhide, I’m thankful that there are all these people willing to help us and care for us and not give up on us.”

Since Brad left Rawhide, he’s constantly working on what he learned. Not every day is perfect, but he knows he is better off equipped with the lessons taught at Rawhide. Every day is a learning experience and another step in the right direction, steps Brad knows he couldn’t take without the help of Rawhide Boys Ranch.

Continue 50 Years of Tradition

For over 50 years we’ve helped guys like Brad through the generous support and charitable donations from Rawhide supporters like you. Your donations help in a wide variety of ways, whether it’s to fund programs that help change the lives of at-risk youth, or to provide nourishment, clothing, and opportunities to guys at Rawhide. 83% of funds from donations go directly to helping at-risk teens turn their lives around; you can donate to Rawhide with confidence.

*Names changed to preserve anonymity

Financial literacy 101 at Starr Academy fosters independent living

Teens have one of the largest disposable incomes of any age group. As a result, they are constantly bombarded with new ways to spend their money, and without a strong set of money management skills they are at high risk for lifelong financial insecurity.

99% of adults believe that financial literacy should be taught in schools, but only 4 states have a required financial class. Rawhide’s Starr Academy instructor Ted Selker sees this as a major problem. With his financial literacy 101 class, his goal for his students is clear:

Leave high school with the functional skills they need to function as an adult and live independently.

What is financial literacy?

When a person is financially literate they have skills and a basic understanding of how to use their monetary resources to live a financially sound life. In short, they know how to save, invest, and spend wisely. Across the United States, many struggle managing their money and investments. While certainly not an isolated problem among the younger generation, financial problems often stem from a lack of basic money management skills during teenage years.

Financial Literacy 101

Starr Academy’s About Face Program teaches students the skills they need to live fruitful lives.  As an important part of day-to-day life, finances are often discussed. Ted stressed the incredible importance of financial literacy for his students:

Financial literacy is the most important skill these guys need for independent living. If they can’t manage their money they’re not going to be able to take care of almost anything else.

The coursework focuses on hands-on tasks every financially comfortable adult has mastered. Ted gives them a foundation in best personal finance practices so they can make their money last:

Reducing risky behaviors such as carrying large debts | Creating a budget and sticking to it |

Knowing when to take out a loan and how loan interest accumulates

With their coursework, Starr Academy students are ahead of most high school students nationwide. Only 32% of teens know how credit card interest and fees work. 18% of 15 year-old Americans do not understand basic financial concepts, such as an invoice. Most of Ted’s  students spend five to six months learning personal finance, immersing themselves in hands-on activities:

Balancing checking accounts | Researching credit card rates and fees | Calculating interest rates |

financial literacy credit cards

Ted wants his students to, above all, understand how quickly debt and poor money management can destroy a life, and how quickly investing can improve a life. He proudly stated that most students really take to learning finances. Many students leave confident they can live independently and have enough money to someday retire. Ted said it’s important especially for at-risk youth and “something they’re not going to learn elsewhere.”

Parents can teach financial literacy

Finance educator Susan Beacham notes the increasing disconnect the younger generations have with money. With more online money management tools and almost complete absence of physical cash in most teen’s wallets, money is not seen the same way. This puts an increased importance on teaching teens to take an active interest in their financial health.

financial literacy balancing

Only about 40% of parents talk to their teens about financial responsibility. With nearly 45% of adults already admitting that they themselves do not always feel confident managing their finances, teens are fish out of water. A little instruction and guidance can go a long way in instilling financial responsibility in your teen. Stress the following topics when teaching financial literacy 101:

Where to open an account and what to put in? How does interest work?

Where to invest? Where can you get help?

Credit Cards. How do they work? What is a credit score?

What is a good loan? When to take out a loan.

Managing and Reducing Debt. What is refinancing? How to make a budget.

Educational resources for teens

The following websites can help your teen understand the ins and outs of personal finance in an informative and fun way.

Complete online financial education program

Learn about budgeting

Understand the value of a dollar

Financial Calculator

List of other resources

About Face and life skills

Rawhide’s About Face Program is a community service focused, military based residential program devoted to teaching at-risk youth life skills. For many, this is their first introduction to the day-to-day knowledge many of us take for granted.

The About Face program, while focused on equipping at-risk youth with skills to live independently, is centered on giving. Ted stresses to his students the importance of donating and giving back in his classroom. And outside the school, About Face instructors take the students on community service projects throughout Wisconsin.

Help us guide our young men on a path towards independent living and community service by making a contribution to support the About Face program. It’s a gift that will give back to communities forever.

5 step ultimate car maintenance checklist

Do you really need a new air filter? What about a transmission fluid flush? Can you go past 3,000 miles before another oil change? Car maintenance is confusing. At times, it seems every mechanic tells you something different. Whether you are trying to reduce wear on your new car or trying to squeeze every last mile out of your old jalopy, keep our car maintenance checklist handy to ensure you remain safe and on the road.

1. Wash your car often

The first car maintenance checklist step is to take care of your car’s exterior. Bug guts, bird droppings, and tree sap can all corrode paint when left on your car too long. This will diminish your car’s value and accelerate rusting. If you live in a cold climate or near the ocean, salt is your car’s worst nightmare. It gets into nooks in your wheel wells and undercarriage, slowly eating your car’s frame. Rinse your car free of salt regularly.

And don’t forget about your windshield, wiper blades, and headlights. You can’t drive if you can’t see the road.

  1. Take a fine piece of steel wool to the outside of your windshield. It will remove any stubborn bug parts.
  2. Replace your windshield wiper blades every 6-12 months.
  3. Remove dirt from your headlight covers, or replace if cloudy. Try this handy toothpaste trick to get a little more life out of your headlights.


2. So many moving parts

Car Maintenance Checklist - So many parts

Aaron “tango” Tang on Flicker

Car maintenance makes some want to run for cover. The threat of making something worse can turn car owners off from simple DIY car repairs. Below are car maintenance checklist repairs you can do with basic tools and an internet connection. Always consult your car’s operating manual for manufacturer recommendations.

Change air filter every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. Your engine needs clean air to function efficiently. Most car manuals show step-by-step instructions to replace your air filter. It often only requires a trip to the auto parts store and a screwdriver.

Change cabin air filter
every 12,000 to 15,000 miles. Requires a little more maneuvering, but still manageable for the DIY mechanic.

With every oil change, add the following to your car maintenance checklist:

Top off fluids (use manufacturer recommended fluids and fill levels).

Transmission Oil Engine Oil Coolant

Windshield Washer Power Steering

Inspect hoses and drive belts for fraying, holes, and tightness. Drive belts often need replacing between 60,000 and 90,000 miles.


Car Maintenance Checklist belts

3. Minor repairs

There are repairs and preventative maintenance nearly everyone can do on their own. Once a month check tire pressure, battery terminals, and Invest in a quality tire pressure gauge. Look in your car manual or the driver’s side door jamb for the recommended psi. Also check for cracks in the rubber or wearing tire tread. Low tire pressure and old tires are dangerous. 3,200 people are injured each year in crashes influenced by tire aging. Clean battery terminals to maintain a secure connection. Minimal deposits are normal for most batteries, but a large buildup can signify something is wrong with your battery. To clean, use baking soda and water or the Coca-Cola trick.

Install a new battery.
Most auto parts stores offer free battery testing, and some (Advanced Auto, Batteries Plus, etc.) will install a new one for free. But if you’re on your own, follow this guide.

5. A car maintenance checklist for your mechanic

For those of you ready to dig deeper into your car’s labyrinth of tubes and metal-spinning-things, you can take on the following tasks yourself. But for everyone else, and for those with cars seemingly built to discourage any home repairs, ask your mechanic next time you head in for an oil change.

Car Maintenance Checklist for Mechanic
About that oil and filter change… Most engine oil lasts longer than that sticker on your windshield says, but always complete according to manufacturer’s recommendations. Preventative maintenance is always the best policy to avoid costly repairs, stay safe, and reach optimal fuel efficiency.

Inspect spark plugs every 20,000 to 30,000 miles.

Check and replace transmission fluid according to manufacturer’s recommendations. Try to avoid a fluid flush as they sometimes cause damage.

Get an alignment and/or tire rotation if you feel the car pulling in a certain direction or if the steering wheel wobbles. Tire rotations are generally recommended every 5,000-8,000 miles.

Teaching Rawhide’s 100 point inspection

Rawhide guys have the chance to work with our mechanics inspecting donated vehicles. They gain valuable work experience and exposure to the auto maintenance profession. We rely on donations from Rawhide supporters to fund all of our programs. 83% of funds from the sales of donated vehicles directly fund our at-risk youth programs. When the time comes to part with your old ride, please consider donating to Rawhide. In addition to helping at-risk youth you will receive a top tax deduction.

What are youth at-risk and what can you do to help?

You’ve heard the term “youth at-risk”, but what does it mean? In the broadest sense, a youth at-risk is a child or adolescent who faces extreme threats to a successful transition into adulthood. Characteristics of at-risk youth include truancy, lack of interest in academics, and disconnection from the school environment.  When at-risk and troubled youth can’t transfer successfully into adulthood, local communities and businesses suffer, costing both millions of dollars.

How teens become at-risk

A variety of factors can contribute to a youth falling in the at-risk category.

The above issues can create feelings of isolation and estrangement from peers and cause children to act out. Lack of a stable financial situation or unstable family dynamics such as broken homes or absent parental figures can also create instability and cause development issues for youth.

Adulthood issues for at-risk youth

The longer an at-risk youth goes without receiving help, the more prone they are to a life full of other issues. Ignoring the warning signs an at-risk youth displays may lead to future problems, including:

  • Addiction
  • Violence
  • Self-Harm
  • Substance abuse

At-risk youth have higher rates of suicidal thoughts and incarceration. Without help, the future of a youth displaying at-risk effects may be in danger.

Helping youth at-risk

But how can someone help an at-risk or troubled youth? If you are worried a teen is headed down a dangerous path, consider these steps:

1. Communicate

Open communication with the teen and get to the root of what’s going on. But don’t pressure them if they’d rather not talk; let them know you’re always available if they want to discuss later on.

2. Take an interest

Familiarize yourself with things teens are interested in. If they play a certain video game, ask them about it. Ask them how school or extra-curricular activities are going. Find talking points to show genuine interest and you will build a trusting and genuine relationship.

3. Relate to teachers or family members

If there are issues at school, listen to both the teacher and student. Allow parents to share what they see and encourage collaboration to help figure out a way to help an at-risk teen overcome problems.

4. Relate to teen’s friends

If possible, communicate with the teen’s friends. Find out if the teen is hanging out with a different crowd and what they do with their friends. Build a trusting relationship with some of the teen’s friends, so if they notice troubling behavior, they feel comfortable sharing their concerns with you.

Rawhide Boys Ranch helps youth at-risk

Rawhide Boys Ranch has over half-a-century of experience helping youth at risk. Our experienced team uses state-of-the-art treatment to help at-risk and troubled youth gain a future. You can help Rawhide continue to make a difference in the local community please by donating below. Every donation helps us impact a change in the Wisconsin community.