Given that fixing a transmission on an older car can cost just as much as the car is worth if it's more than a decade old, it's important to keep it in order. Transmission issues are largely avoidable if you care for your car, pay attention to how it drives, and run a check up from time to time. A little bit of maintenance can go a long way in keeping your car in great shape for a number of years beyond the average.
Here are some things to look for and what they can mean.
If your car ever has a smell of something burning when it's running, that's a bad thing. It's important to be concerned and to seek out the source of the burning smell. This is sometimes linked to the transmission.
In cases where the burning is coming from the transmission, that's because the fluid is overheating. Your transmission fluid plays a role of keeping your transmission cool by keeping it running properly while lubricated.
If transmission fluid starts to diminish, it won't be as lubricated. This is when friction happens. When that occurs, there might be a build-up of debris and sludge that can lead to the breaking down of your transmission parts.
This will be an expensive and inconvenient issue if you don't take care of the situation.
Low transmission fluid might be the reason for your issue. It can be caused if there's a leak in the line or your transmission. In most cars, transmission fluid doesn't lower in time on its own, like motor oil or other types of lubricants.
Act as soon as you smell burning coming from your car. Even if it's not transmission fluid, it's likely an issue you should tackle immediately.
Can't Get Car in Gear
If you're struggling to get your car in gear, you're going to have some serious issues. When your car runs in the wrong gear, it can cause undue issues with your transmission.
IF your car's transmission doesn't engage when you put it in drive or reverse, that could be a problem. You also have an issue if you're trying to put your car in drive or reverse and it doesn't respond immediately. These issues might be signaling a problem or it might mean nothing.
It's up to you to find out.
It might be a more complicated computer system problem. Sometimes all you have to do is to restart the computer to resolve the issue that you're facing.
You might be able to do this yourself just by disconnecting the battery for half an hour or more. Otherwise, you'll need a qualified mechanic to do the work for you. Working with a technician is the best way to solve this issue.
If you see delays or if you can't get your transmission to engage the way you want it to, then you need to talk to someone. While the problems might be minor, it's always smart to ensure you don't have a $1,000 bill waiting for you.
Noises Like Whining or Humming
If you hear noises that you don't think you should hear from your transmission, get it checked out. Hearing a whining, clunking, or a humming sound from your engine could mean that you have a transmission issue. It's hard to tell until you've investigated the problem.
Some noises that stem from transmission issues may be present because the transmission fluid is starting to break down. The fluid is tasked with the challenging job of ensuring that all of the heavy gears are working properly. There are several ways that this can go wrong.
Over time and with a certain amount of use, the fluid is going to lose its protective properties. It's going to start allowing for more friction, which is what is going to start breaking down your transmission. Friction does serious damage to automatic transmissions and their complex interlocking parts.
Clunking noises when you're operating your vehicle are going to stem from parts giving out. If this happens internally, you need an automatic transmission mechanic to look at your vehicle. If you don't look at it right away, you're going to risk some serious problems.
Simple issues might be solved with more fluid. More complicated issues will merit a more serious look at what's happening in your transmission.
Shaking or Grinding
If you feel shaking or grinding when you use your vehicle, it could be due to the transmission. It's going to have a hard time either switching gears or staying there once it gets there. An automatic transmission normally operates smoothly as it shifts.
If your transmission is starting to offer you slipping or shaking sensations when you switch gears, you may not notice at first. Even some amount of grinding might seem simply normal in an aging car or could chalk it up to a number of different engine issues.
However, you need to pay attention when you're suffering issues at this level. Jarring sensations when your car shifts aren't normal. If your transmission seems like it's dealing with damaged gears, your issues will only become exacerbated.
This is a serious issue that merits help from an automatic transmission specialist.
Transmission Issues Aren't Worth It
Since most transmission issues can be resolved with simple maintenance, there's no real reason to have to pay through the nose for them. However, there are flukes and issues that can arise for even the most steadfast car owner. Keeping an eye out for the symptoms can save you thousands.
If you're struggling with a car you inherited, check out our guide for how to move forward.