Read all about Mr. Sposato's Big Adventure, attempting to have a small leak from the transmission of his 1993 Suzuki Sidekick repaired, having the transmission rebuilt instead with new problems installed, and the transmission shop's wild and zany attempts to ignore the problem, pretend it doesn't exist, and run out the time on the warranty! I have blocked out certain persons and entities whom I don't wish to expose on this page. A long and painful saga...

Tracking Transmission repair at

attempts to fix this transmission, and they never got it right!


10/8/99: Dropped off Suzuki, leaking fluid. Basic overhaul with steels: $813.00

10/9/99: Picked up vehicle.

10/10/99: Dropped off vehicle, dropped key inside shop. Due to very hard shift into Reverse or Drive, leaking fluid, and rattling heatshield on exhaust that was removed during transmission work.

10/14/99: Picked up key for vehicle. Returned later in day to pick up vehicle. Started vehicle, found that shifting into Reverse or Drive was extremely harsh. Left vehicle and dropped key inside shop.

10/16/99: Picked up key for vehicle. Found that shift from Park into Reverse or Drive is still very jarring. Tom DeMoe demonstrated that if you race the engine wildly just after you start it (which I screamed over the wailing engine you should NEVER do, according to the ownerís manual), the shift is easier. I found that if the vehicle is allowed to warm up (in accordance with the manual), the shift is easier. Picked up vehicle later that evening.

10/18/99: Called and spoke with Pat, as vehicle is losing a tremendous amount of transmission fluid after 18 or so miles of freeway driving. Pat suggested that it may have been overfilled, that I continue driving the vehicle, but do check the transmission fluid level.

10/19/99: Still leaking after long drive, fluid level OK.

Same through 10/25/99

10/26/99: Noticed that vehicle is exhibiting unusual shifting, i.e. after attaining freeway speeds, when pressure is released from gas pedal, there is a slight shock as though transmission is suddenly freewheeling. Reapplication of pressure on gas pedal induces a pause, then a small shock as though transmission is hooking back up.

10/27/99: Same behavior, in addition: after leaving freeway, shifts are preceded occasionally by pauses, slight racing, then engagement.

10/28/99: Called American Transmission, asked to speak with Pat. Told that Pat is not there, gentleman offers to help instead. I explain the situation and request that I bring the vehicle in and that they should provide a loaner car. Gentleman says that their insurance does not allow them to provide loaner cars. I explain that I feel that since this will be their fourth opportunity to work on the vehicle, that they should do something. He says that "We donít make the seals, we donít make the gaskets or any other parts, thatís why you have a warranty.". I agree that this time I will attempt to make some arrangements for a vehicle, but that I am disgruntled

10/28/99: Speak with ***** ***** at ******* Automotive, who advises that American Transmission has a very bad reputation, that they are known for shoddy work, and advises that I call a lawyer. Also says that I will most likely have to take the vehicle elsewhere to have it fixed, then bill American Transmission.

10/28/99: Spoke with Attorney *** *********, who advises that he has heard several complaints against this shop, that they have many dissatisfied customers. Explains that it is not American Transmissionís insurance that prevents them from providing loaners, it is their business decision to decide not to do so. A lie from American Transmission?

10/28/99: Call at 12:00pm to ask if they will give me a ride home when I bring it in at 1. Gentleman refuses to give name, but says that they might be able to.

10/28/99: Made appointment, had driven 18 miles to warm up. Took test drive with Kumar. During the test drive Kumar confirmed that he witnessed smoke, and a "thump". Back at the shop, I am taken to Kumar who has my vehicle on a lift. He rotates the half-shafts that connect to the front wheels and explains that he believes that they are the cause of the "thump". (Even though the half-shafts are un-driven and unlocked from the rotating wheels and transfer case, a bad shot in the dark from Kumar) He says he has drained out some of the fluid from the transmission, and this should keep it from smoking. Back inside, Tom DeMoe explains that they intentionally overfill automatic transmissions, as the torque converter sometimes has air in it, and as it runs, the air is forced out, replaced with transmission fluid, which can make the entire transmission low on fluid. He says that they canít fix what they canít see, and that they want ME to take it for a long drive of about thirty minutes, bring it back, and they will ride with me afterwards to see if they can reproduce the problem.

I take it for a 30-minute, 31-mile drive at highway speeds and return to the shop. Leave it running and Tom DeMoe comes out and drives it with me in the passenger seat. We leave his shop, turning onto the service road. We take an immediate left into the u-turn lane under the bridge and begin to enter the 35E northbound. As we are traveling on the entrance ramp, I mention that he might want to let off the gas a little bit. He does, and presses back down and the transmission does indeed slip a few times. He is able to reproduce the problem at least twice more during our short test drive.

In the vehicle and back at his shop he explains that he believes that the trouble is "99% sure" the TPS (Throttle Position Sensor), and notes that my "Check Engine" light is on. I explain, as I have before, that the light is on a timer, and it came on at EXACTLY 80,000 miles, so I believe it is not likely to be an indicator of any problem, but is factory-set to come on at that point to induce the consumer to take their vehicle to the dealer for a check up. He agrees that this is likely, but that the TPS could also cause the "Check Engine" light to activate. He requests that I allow him to take the vehicle to a shop of his choosing and have them "run a scan", which will tell them if their is a fault in the electronics and reset the light. Further discussion and we agree that I will take the vehicle to ******* Automotive, a shop I deal with regularly, and have them run the scan, then I will contact American Transmissions afterwards.

11-20-99: Took Suzuki to Frank Parra Chevrolet, 1000 E. Airport Freeway, as they sell the Chevrolet Tracker, an identical vehicle with "Geo" badges instead of Suzuki badges. They are mechanically identical. Senior Technician Jeff Alaniz inspected the vehicle with special attention to the Throttle Position Sensor. He said that the "Check Engine" light is on a timer, and it comes on at 80,000 miles. He reset the light and offered as additional proof that the Throttle Position Sensor is in good working order the fact that the "Check Engine" light does not relight when he operates the throttle. According to his training and experience, if there were any issues with the Throttle Position Sensor, the light would come back on indicating a fault. There are no faults with the engine.

12-11-99: Dropped Suzuki off with Tom DeMoe. This is their fifth attempt to fix the issue. He asked me to explain exactly what it was doing. I did, and he wrote on the work order "Hesitates between shifts Ė doesnít downshift."

12-16-99: Called at work by Tom. He says itís ready. I asked him what was done, he says he canít say, he didnít do the work. I told him Iíd pick it up on Saturday.

12-18-99: Went to pick up vehicle. Tom still cannot explain what was done to the vehicle, his new foreman should be able to tell me. I waited 15 minutes for his new foreman to arrive and met new shop foreman, Dennis, who replaced Kumar. Dennis said he canít tell me what was done, but his build guys could, and they wonít be in until Monday. I went out to my vehicle parked in their fenced-in back area. Approaching the vehicle from the rear, I noticed that the privacy cover over the rear storage area is flipped up in the back. I proceed to the driverís side rear door and notice the center console is bent back far beyond its limits. I open the unlocked front door and pull the center console forwards. The hinge that connects it to the base has cracked the base through being opened too far.

I started the vehicle and let it run. I got out and checked the right rear tire which was getting low and met Dennis coming out to the vehicle. I said "Thereís something really weird going on, somebody was into the back area of the Suzuki.". I pointed in the rear window and showed him that the privacy cover was flipped up. I then noticed and pointed out to Dennis that there was a large greasy thumbprint on the rear handle, where it would be gripped to open the rear door. In his presence I opened the rear door and we both saw that there were black plastic garbage bags lining the rear area, over sundries already there. There were large circular impressions in the plastic. I asked him if they were the same size as torque converters. He agreed that they were. We closed up the rear area, and I showed him the broken center console and I remarked that I now had 106 miles on the tripmeter. He inspected it and remarked on the broken base. He suggested I show it to Tom DeMoe and went back into the shop to arrange for some compressed air for my low tire. I started the vehicle and backed it up, noticing a clicking noise as I reversed across the lot. I pulled up to the front of the shop and brought out Tom DeMoe. Dennis arrived and suggested that Tom look at the console. I showed Tom the console. He inspected it and agreed that it was broken and instructed me to get the replacement part from the dealership and bring him the receipt and I would be reimbursed. I agreed to those terms and showed him all the evidence that the vehicle had been used for purposes other than repair or inspection. He was decidedly non-committal. I took the Suzuki for a short test drive.

It shifted a bit smoother, but still felt like it was not downshifting appropriately. I returned to the shop, stopped in the driveway, shifted the transfer case into 4WD-HI and drove forwards. Felt all right. Reversed and heard the clicking sound again. Shifted the transfer case into 4WD-LO and drove forwards. It had not shifted into LO. I reversed, heard the clicking, and took the transfer case out of LO to HI, then back to 4WD-LO. It worked properly that time. I shifted the transfer case back into 2WD and reversed back to the door of the shop and motioned Tom out to the vehicle. With my neighbor John Jarmush standing next to the vehicle, I reversed and heard the clicking. Tom said he couldnít hear any clicking and ran inside saying he would fetch his foreman. I asked John if he could hear it, he said he heard it clearly. Dennis the Foreman arrived and had me go forwards, backwards several times and stated that he heard the noise. He had me do it with the hood open. I did and he heard it. He asked if I could bring it back at some point for just an hour or two. I said I can leave it with you right now, Iíve got another vehicle temporarily. He was pleased with that, asked me to return the Suzuki to the lot and give HIM the key. He said no one else would be working on it, just him. I had pointed out all of the greasy fingerprints left all over the vehicle (the door handles, the hood area, the steering wheel, and the shifter), and he said heíd take care of that too. I told him that that sounded like a really fine idea. So for the SIXTH time, I left my vehicle at American Transmission.

12-27-99 1:19pm: Called American Transmission, asked for Dennis. Was told that heís out sick today. Inquired about the Suzuki, was told it was ready, that they have no details now, but would have some when I picked it up.

David, identified by The Shop Foreman as the store manager, handed me a receipt saying that itís all fixed. I notified him that this is the same receipt I received for the last time I was in. He said "No no, these charges donít apply to you, theyíre charged to the previous owner.". I agreed, said I was aware of that, however this is a copy of the same work order I had before. He dismissed the idea and said heíd have someone clear the way for me to pull the vehicle out. I informed him that I hope it is indeed fixed this time, as itís the SIXTH time theyíve had it. He said "Well, that way you get to know us better!"

Went up to the place and checked out the vehicle. A person identified as "The Shop Foreman", not Dennis, informed me that I had a bad exhaust leak near the end of the exhaust manifold.

I started the vehicle and noted a sound that had not existed before this visit to my vehicle, a sound that I commonly identify as an exhaust leak. Took it for a 2 mile test ride. The clicking noise seems to have been fixed, and the shift quality is better than the second time I picked it up. Still not back up to the quality it had before I brought it to their shop to fix a leak. Tested 4WD-HI and LO, seem to behave properly. I left the vehicle parked next to Davidís red Ford pickup truck and informed them that I would be back later in the day to pick up the vehicle when I could get someone free to drive me up there.

03-11-00: Called shop and spoke with Tom DeMoe. Informed him that the transmission is still not fixed and inquired as to whether I could drop it off. He told me I could, and asked what the problem was. I said it was STILL not behaving properly between application and release of the gas pedal, as if it were very loose.

03-12-00: Dropped vehicle off at shop, due to continued sloppy transmission operation.

03-13-00: Called and spoke to unidentified person at shop. I told him that I dropped off the Suzuki, described the problem as a "dead space" or "slack" between pressure and release of the accelerator.

Here's the workorder written by Tom DeMoe for the 03-13 trip. (Note his initials in the red circle on the right.) I have blocked out some of my personal information for posting this on the Internet. Note that in "Customer Description" is something I never mentioned, and Tom's attempt to deflect interest away from the transmission. (U-joints??)! Also note that Tom has put on this receipt, as a reminder, when the warranty runs out and the milage on the vehicle when I first brought it in. At this point the Suzuki only has 1551 miles on the transmission. Far less than the 6000 in the warranty, but I believe Tom's trying to stall this process out beyond the 6 month period.

03-18-00: Picked up vehicle from Tom DeMoe, who said that "Dennis" no longer works there, and that his new shop foreman made some adjustments, and noted that I have "belt separation" in one of the front tires. I asked which one, he couldnít tell me and said Iíd need to speak with the foreman who wasn't there. I mentioned that Iíd have it looked at by another shop, but that it doesnít really concern the operation of the transmission.

03-18-00: The problem still exists, it appears no different than when I dropped it off on 03-12, or for that matter, on 10-10-99.

03-21-00: Contacted Farmers Branch Chamber of Commerce at 972-243-8966, found that American Transmission is not a member. They suggested I call ***** ****** at 972-919-****, who is with the city of Farmers Branch. Farmers Branch ******* ******** says the owner is ANT Incorporated, owned by Jack Ferguson at 972-965-3123

03-21-00 Took Suzuki to Ray Herrera at Aamco Transmissions to. Paid $39.00 for External Diagnostic Service. They performed a large battery of tests, external examinations, fluid check and examination. Fixed small leak at Transmission Drain Pan. They noted slips and harsh engagements. They advise "Reconditioned Service" at 723.00, with a torque converter (if needed) at 211, plus additional hard parts as needed. The gentleman who assisted me said it needs a rebuild, it would take 3 days.

03-21-00: Spoke with Jack Ferguson, the owner of American Transmission at 972-965-3123. He was on the road. He sounded very concerned, and said to call him Friday morning, when we would talk about all that had gone on previously and that he would do everything possible to make me happy.

03-24-00 12:30pm: Called and left message for Jack Ferguson at 972-965-3123, left him my home number.

03-25-00 7:52pm: Called and left message for Jack Ferguson at 972-965-3123, left him my home number.

03-25-00 8:55am: Received call from Jack Ferguson (Showing Jack Brooks at 972-788-1412 on Caller ID.). Asked what the issue was. I explained that it started with a leak, I was convinced to do a rebuild, and that now the problem has escalated to the behavior described above. I let him know that they had had my vehicle 7 times. I related to Jack the difficulties I have had with Tom DeMoe, specifically that the last time I had it in to them, for A WEEK, Tom had tried to fob me off with a story about "Belt Separation" in a front tire, and that I felt that this is yet another deliberate ruse to run out the warranty period without actually repairing the transmission. I explained that on 03/21/00 I took the Suzuki to Aamco Transmissions and had it checked out. He replied "Well, yíknow, Aamco has this reputation of not being exactly, well, I donít want to run down another company on the phone...". I said that they did a full external diagnostic on the vehicle and transmission fluid. They found the fluid was contaminated with metal parts and they recommend a complete rebuild, just FIVE months after American Transmission rebuilt it, and just THREE days after it was last in the hands of American Transmission. Jack asked if I would bring the vehicle in next Tuesday, for about 30 minutes, at 8:30am, meet with Gene (a technician) and take him for a ride. I agreed to take it in for the EIGHTH time.

03-27-00: Found that Jack Ferguson 972-965-3123 and Jack Brooks at 972-788-1412, are the partners (Jack and Jack) that are the former owners of American Transmission. They have since sold it to Mark Wilson, perhaps around November of last year. Tom has said that all of this sort of work is being charged back to the former owners.

03-28-00 8:30am: Went on extended test-drive with Gene. Gene noted several times the "slack" I've described. We brought it back, he put it up on the lift. Dave, the GM, spoke with me about the situation. He says "Y'know, the problem is the rear end. You've got these pins in there that wore out and allow that slack. When it's in top gear, it shouldn't be jerking like that." He's also saying that I shouldn't have had to make a web page, that I should have just come in and talked to him. I told him I had no idea who he was, I had asked Tom DeMoe who he was on several occasions, but Tom DeMoe, the General Manager, wouldn't tell me who he is. "I AM the general manager. ", Dave said. I showed him the business card that specifies that Tom is the General Manager. He says, "That's just business". He later said that he left the company for a short while, and during that time Tom DeMoe must have had the other cards printed up, such as the one scanned in at the top of my Tranny web page. I explain to Dave Yeubanks once again that I've been in 7 times to have it worked on, and that they still haven't been able to fix it.

While Dave and Tom were out of the office area, I spoke with a young Asian woman who had brought her green Ford Mustang Convertible in. I mentioned that this was their eighth attempt at fixing the transmission and let her have a printout of this webpage. She thanked me, folded it up, stuffed it in her briefcase before the guys returned. The Hertz rental car guy picked her up and took her away.

Tom DeMoe says he's dropping the pan right now. He wants to see the shavings and see if there are actually shavings in the pan. He says it looks like it hasn't even been opened. He says there's a lot of slack in the entire driveline: the rear end, transmission and transfer case.

I went into the garage area as they were dropping the pan. I saw them pour most of the fluid out of the pan. By the time I got to the pan, almost all of the fluid had been dumped. The fluid in the pan looked slightly sparkly, but I am uncertain as to whether that was metal particles or the reflection of the light off the bottom of the pan. There are two magnets on the floor of the pan, and when I ran my finger across them, they came back coated with "gook". There was a layer of "gook" on the magnets about 1 millimeter thick. Gene said that this is normal, that he's seen much worse.

While we were under the vehicle I rotated the left rear tire and noted that the driveshaft seemed to rotate in perfect sync, back and forth. I then rotated the drive shaft and noted again that the tires seemed to move immediately with the motion of the driveshaft. I moved the driveshaft back and forth and determined that the driveshaft could be rotated approximately 1-2 millimeters without moving the tires.

Dave asked Gene what he thought, "Is it the driveline (rear end and transfer case) or is it the transmission?" Gene said, "I really think it's the driveline.". Dave motioned me to follow him out of the garage area into the offices. He said, "Look, I'm your friend and I want to see you happy. Gene out there says that it's the rear end, not the transmission. I'm going to have him tear down the transmission anyways and see if he can't find a problem. Can you find a time to leave it with me for one, maybe two days?" I told him I would leave it with him today, as it's been six months and I want this fixed as soon as possible, but that he'll have to find someone he can spare for 17 minutes or so to run me home. He said that would be no problem and returned in a few minutes with Martin, a mechanic. Dave instructed me to drive us there, as Martin's English isn't so good. No problem, I said. "Great, why don't you take that car there.", indicating the Asian woman's Mustang Convertible. So I drove us to my home in the other customer's car, the Mustang's transmission slipping like the Dickens the whole way.

03/29/00 Wednesday 9:30am: Stopped by American Transmission on my way to work to pick up a textbook out of the Suzuki. Noted that it was sitting in their back lot with much of the exhaust system and a few driveshafts along with other parts sitting on top of the engine with the hood resting down over them. Placed a wooden matchstick on the left front tire sticking up from the top of the tread.

03/29/00 Wednesday 9:00pm: Dropped by after work to see if the Suzuki had been moved from its spot. From outside the gate I could see the matchstick still sitting up undisturbed on top of the front left tire.

03/30/00 Thursday 4:00pm: Haven't heard from Dave Yeubanks. Gave the shop a call and was told by Dave that they were waiting on a part, a "channel plate". I asked "What does that part do?". "Leak!", he responded. Aside from that, he didn't know. Didn't give me a new time estimate.

03/31/00 Friday 9:00pm: No word from Dave Yeubanks. Drove by the transmission shop and saw through the gate that the Suzuki was now in the back row of vehicles, but that the parts under the hood did not appear to have been disturbed in any way.

04/01/00 Saturday 1:41pm: No word from Dave Yeubanks. Called the shop. Tom DeMoe answered. He said that Dave was not in. I asked about Gene. "Nope, he's not in either". I identified myself and he said that he was sorry, it wasn't ready, and probably wouldn't be until Monday. He said that he had a "builder" come in special today, just to work on my Suzuki, but then there was an emergency! Some folks from out of town broke down, and Tom pulled the builder off of my job and has him working on that. I explained that this is getting a little inconvenient, being without a car, since it was supposed to be ready by Thursday at the latest, according to Dave Yeubanks' estimate. "It's...It's a church group that's broken down, y'see?" he said. I said "Ah, a whole big bunch of nuns and orphans...". He didn't get it. So the current promise is mid-day Monday.

I picked it up. There was no difference. I gave up. After more than 6 months and more than 8 trips to American Transmissions, my patience was worn out. My Mother was dying from cancer, which I explained, hoping that perhaps they would show some mercy and hire someone who could fix this transmission so I could reliably make it back and forth to the hospice. They were never able to fix the transmission. I traded my beloved Suzuki in on another vehicle, with the Suzuki's transmission in worse shape than the day I took it into American Transmission to fix a leak.


So what do I want? What would make me happy?
  1. I want to be reimbursed for the broken armrest. I took the receipt for the part into Tom DeMoe. He paid me for the part, and attempted to keep the receipt. I let him make a copy of it instead. I found it wise not to trust anyone at this shop.
  2. I want to be reimbursed for having to take my vehicle to AAMCO, a direct result of American Transmission's inability to diagnose the problem. They never did this. I believe they still owe me this money.
  3. I want a new transmission from Suzuki, installed by AAMCO, paid for by American Transmission, as I can no longer trust American Transmission's management and technicians.Impossible at this point, since I was forced to get rid of the vehicle due to their apparent lack of competence.
  4. -or-

  5. I want to have American Transmission pay AAMCO directly to repair the transmission to my satisfaction. Again, this is no longer possible, since I no longer have the vehicle.
  6. -or-

  7. I want a complete and full refund of $813.00. This is the only acceptable solution. Anything less is NOT acceptable. I was MORE than patient. I was polite every time. I was NEVER provided with a loaner vehicle, which they are NOT prevented from providing, but are REQUIRED by common courtesy and anyone's sense of business ethics to provide after the 2nd or 3rd attempt to fix the problem that THEY caused.


These are the actions that a good and honest company would make, and I sincerely hope that former owners Jack Ferguson at 972-965-3123 and Jack Brooks at 972-788-1412 (who owned the shop when I first took it in) or new owner Mark Williams will see to it that his new company begins to rebuild its image as a reliable and trustworthy automotive repair shop.