As you can imagine, having automatic transmission problems during acceleration can be very frustrating – and dangerous. You have been driving your car for a while, and you know how your car should be running. Therefore, when it is not running correctly, it should be easy to feel. Knowing the most common automatic transmission problems and solutions are crucial to the longevity of your vehicle.
If you pass someone or go to power up a hill and it is not working correctly, you might hear your engine rev, but your vehicle will not accelerate as it should. These issues can be caused by various reasons and faulty parts within your car.
Automatic Transmission Function
An automatic transmission is a multi-speed transmission used in cars and other motor vehicles that does not require the driver to change or shift the gears while driving manually. The most common automatic transmission type is a hydraulic automatic, which uses mechanisms like a gearset and torque converter to quickly and efficiently change gears.
The automatic hydraulic system uses various internal clutches and bands to lock certain gears, helping the car determine which gearset is correct for certain conditions. Furthermore, the sprag clutch is used for routine gear shifts and eliminates two clutches’ need to release or apply pressure on differing gear sets.
The gear sets, friction bands, and clutches are controlled by automatic transmission fluid and pressurized pumps to distribute the liquid evenly. If any of these curricula parts go bad during use, you will notice the signs of automatic transmission problems and solutions.
Warning Signs of Automatic Transmission Problems
Automatic transmissions work very differently than a manual transmission. Not only because they use automatic mechanisms to change gears, but because they use a completely different system and mechanics to work efficiently. To help understand the automatic transmission problems and solutions, it is key to diagnose the issue and determine the warning signs.
If you have an automatic transmission and notice that the transmission is slipping while driving, the most common cause of this issue is low transmission fluid. The transmission fluid is necessary to lubricate the parts and keep your car running correctly. If your transmission slips, this means that the car engine revs, but no power is transferred to the wheels to move the car. If the sleeping is caused by low transmission fluid, it will only get worse as the transmission overheats and friction builds during use.
Fix: Transmission Fluid Change
The average price of a fluid change will cost around $100, with the cost of a dealer costing upwards of $250 and an independent mechanic going as low as $80. The procedure’s average cost is $100 when dealing with the most common automatic transmission problems and solutions.
To diagnose the signs of automatic transmission problems and solutions, you need to learn how to check your transmission fluid level. In many cars, you can do this very easily by using a dipstick in the engine bay. The dipstick will look like the oil dipstick but will be red. The transmission dipstick is usually located near the engine bay by the firewall, with the transmission fluid level needing to be checked while the engine is running and warm.
One of the other most common automatic transmission problems and solutions is burning fluid due to low fluid levels. Sometimes the transmission slipping can be due to the transmission fluid burning instead of just being at a low level in your car. If the fluid is not the right color, like black instead of red, or you notice a burning smell, this is likely the culprit.
Burnt fluid can occur when the transmission overheats, and there is too much friction. In this case, you need to swap out your transmission fluid to prevent the automatic transmission problem.
Fix: Fluid Flush
The average cost of a transmission fluid flush will typically cost around $150, with transmission flushes on smaller cars going as low as $100 and bigger trucks costing around $200. If you are unsure about how much your specific car will cost, you can expect the flush to cost about double as much as a fluid change.
Both automatic and manual transmission use clutches. Although the clutch issue is more common in manual cars, automatic cars can still succumb to these automatic transmission problems and solutions. These clutch issues can cause automatic transmission slipping when accelerating.
In an automatic car, the transmission and the torque converter have clutch plates that can become worn out and damaged due to insufficient transmission fluid.
Fix: Replace the Clutch
The cost to repair or replace a clutch depends on the damage and severity of the issue, with prices ranging from as little as $500 to as much as $2,500. The overall price depends on the type of car you drive, with luxury and sports cars costing around $2,500, and used cars that are middle-of-the-road costing between $500 and $1,000.
Furthermore, four-wheel-drive cars cost more money when talking about automatic transmission problems and solutions.
Torque Converter Malfunction
The torque converter’s main function is to transfer the engine’s power into torque, which is the type of power that the transmission can use. Over time, the torque converter will break down and become damaged.
When the converter is functioning correctly, the fluid will flow through the torque converter. However, if it is damaged, the transmission fluid will not flow and can cause automatic transmission problems and solutions.
Fix: Replace the Torque Converter
If you plan to replace the torque converter yourself, you can expect to pay between $150 and $500 for the part. However, if you need a mechanic to do the entire process for you, then expect to spend between $600 and $1,000 to replace the torque converter for your automatic transmission.
Along with the previous issues that occur from automatic transmission slipping when accelerating, it is also possible for the transmission bands to become broken down, worn over time, and damaged. These issues can cause the transmission to slip, since they are in charge of connecting your gears.
Fix: Replace The Transmission Bands
Unfortunately, fixing worn-out or broken transmission bands, clutches, or gears typically requires you to remove the entire transmission, increasing the overall transmission repair cost. If you don't have significant mechanic experience with cars, you need to bring your car to a trusted auto repair shop or dealership so they can do this for you.
When looking at the most common automatic transmission problems and solutions, you will generally have to bring your vehicle to a knowledgeable mechanic to carry out the necessary repairs.
Along with a worn band and low transmission fluid, there are other reasons for your transmission problems. The gear changes in the automatic transmission are actually sparked by the transmission solenoids that convert the automatic transmission fluid into the various components in your transmission to cause things to move and the clutches and bands to disengage from the system.
Fix: Replace The Transmission Solenoids
Depending on what kind of car you drive, like the make, model, and year, you can spend upwards of $400 to replace the entire solenoid pack in your car. Of course, replacing a single solenoid will cost less money, but the problems are generally affecting more than one solenoid in your transmission system.
You may only have to spend around $250 to replace the solenoid pack in less expensive vehicles. When looking at automatic transmission problems and solutions, repairing or replacing transmission solenoids are some of the easiest and less expensive fixes in your car.
Car Won’t Stay in Gear
If you find that your car won’t move when you put your car in gear or the gear shifter has trouble moving, this could be an issue with your transmission system. A lack of gear movement is typically attributed to problems with the shifter, the shifter cable, or the valve body.
Fix: Powertrain Control Module Replacement
Replacing your powertrain control module will typically cost between $888 and $963 for this transmission problems cost. The labor costs will range between $79 and $100, while the cost of hte parts is between $807 and $863.
Other transmission problems and solutions deal with delayed shifting or missing gears. If it takes a long time for your transmission to go into gear, this is typically due to a low level of transmission fluid or fluid contamination. If your fluid is debris-filed or not at the correct level, it can lead to overheating, excess friction, and internal transmission damage.
Fix: Check for Leaks
If you find that you have issues shifting or delays while changing gears, you could be experiencing low fluid levels due to a fluid leak. This issue’s typical transmission problems cost is between $150 and $200 for transmission leak repair.
The Bottom Line
Paying to fix the automatic transmission problems and solutions can help ensure your car’s transmission stays functioning at a high level! Without addressing the root cause of your car’s issues, you could experience fluid leaking, transmission failure, and other problems that will severely increase your transmission repair cost.