9 Common Transmission Problems and How to Identify Them

A vehicle’s transmission is one of the most important parts a car has, next to the engine. This is the part that allows power to be transferred from the engine to the driveshaft. An ailing transmission, that isn’t repaired promptly, will be one of the most expensive repair jobs you could face for your vehicle. Noticing the problem right away can save you hundreds of dollars at the repair shop if you learn to recognize the signs that’s something is wrong. Here are 9 of the most common signs you’ll see when your transmission is failing:

Slipping Gear

The most common sign is a noticeable ‘slip’ when the transmission switches out of gear without warning. It’s almost like the car pops into neutral when the car increases its speed going down the road. The probable cause when gears start to slip is generally low fluid levels. Check your transmission fluid to be sure you have the proper amount and check to see that there are no leaks.

Fluid Leak

A transmission fluid leak is usually seen pooled on the ground after leaving a parking space where your vehicle had been resting. There are a few things that could cause leaking in that area. If you notice the leaked fluid has a reddish-brown color, then you’re looking at transmission fluid that shouldn’t be there. Get it checked by a professional to determine where the leak is originating at and what repairs you’ll need to resolve it. The sooner this is fixed the better.

Whining noise in the transmission

A whining transmission is never a good thing. This kind of noise can sometimes worsen when you put your vehicle in reverse. To fix this problem, you may need to change your transmission fluid. Sludge could be starting to form causing the filter to become clogged, preventing it from running properly.

Burning Odor

There certainly could be many reasons for this kind of smell. When you’ve ruled out other possibilities; it’s probably the transmission. Low or leaking transmission fluid can cause it to overheat because there’s not enough fluid to keep parts lubricated. Friction will then increase making the transmission work harder. This will cause the burning smell you may be experiencing.

Grinding sounds

A grinding sound is commonly seen with a manual transmission. After engaging the clutch and manually shifting gears, a loud grinding noise can be heard. One of the causes for this is the clutch. It might need to be repaired, replaced or readjusted. A professional can check it and let you know which option your car needs.

Shifting Delay

A healthy transmission will shift gears right away. If you notice a delay when you shift then the transmission is not healthy. Sometimes, you may even find that the vehicle will refuse to go into a gear at all. Since there are a lot of possibilities that could be causing this, it’s best to seek a professional. They can check the transmission over to see what repairs you’ll need.

Harsh Shifting

Modern vehicles rely on a transmission control unit to power them. Electronic data and computer sensors send the necessary signals to shift gears. If one of these electronic parts fail, the gears could function abnormally. Shifting could be like a hard thud or they could be delayed. They’re usually designed to allow you to get the car home and into a repair shop.

Shifting into the wrong gear

Anytime there’s abnormal shifting going on with a vehicle, the transmission is the cause. In this case, unusual shifting could be caused by dirty fluid or solenoid failure. Check the fluid level and if that looks good, check with a repair shop to diagnose the issue.

Transmission Shudders

Sometimes when driving at faster speeds, the car will start to shudder or shake for a few seconds. Then it will return to normal. This will happen periodically. There are several possible causes for this. Some of them include dirty fluid, low fluid level, or torque converter problems. It’s best to let a professional diagnose and repair it.

Transmission repairs don’t always have to be costly. The key, in most cases, is to repair the issues as soon as they arise. The longer they persist, the more costly the repairs will be in the end, especially if you have to replace it. Familiarize yourself with the most common transmission problems. Learn to spot the problems before they become major headaches. This will help you keep your car healthy and running smoothly for a long time to come.