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Can a Bad Transmission Cause Overheating? What You Need to Know!

Can a Bad Transmission Cause Overheating

The transmission of a car is the one responsible for moving the power from the engine to the wheels. Regardless of what type of transmission, may it be a manual or automatic transmission, it functions by enabling the gear ratio between the drive wheels and engine to adjust when the car slows down and accelerates. It also disconnects the engine from the drive wheels when the car is stopped so it can keep idling. But just like any other parts of a car, a transmission can go bad and it can affect the overall condition and operation of a car. You may ask, can a bad transmission cause overheating? It can. When a bad transmission overheats it can cause your engine to overheat too. A bad transmission overheats when there is a defective solenoid, transmission slipping, low fluid level, or old, contaminated, and burned fluid. 

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Can a Bad Transmission Cause Overheating? – What are the Signs of a Bad Transmission?


Can a bad transmission cause overheating? You have probably asked this question if you notice that your car is overheating. When a transmission becomes bad or faulty, it can overheat and it can cause your engine to overheat as well. But what is a transmission? Let us learn the basics first.


A transmission plays an important role in the overall operation of a car. It is its gearbox. It is the one that transfers the power from the engine to the wheels.  There are different types of car transmissions, you may know them as the manual, automatic, or CVT transmissions. Like mentioned earlier, it works by enabling the gear ratio between the drive wheels and the engine to adjust as the car decelerates and accelerates.


It also disconnects the engine from the drive wheels when the car is not moving to keep the engine idling when there is no movement. The transmission also allows quick acceleration from a stop and allows the engine to run more slowly to reduce wear while the car is running at constant speeds. 


It is crucial that a car has a transmission that is working efficiently. It ensures that the engine won’t destroy itself. Without it, the engine will not spin at the right speed. It will spin too slow or two fast for your needs. A good transmission also makes sure that your wheels will be supplied with the right amount of power. If it fails, it will be hard to start and stop your car.


For the people who ask, can a bad transmission cause overheating? You need to know first if your transmission is indeed bad before blaming the overheating issues on your transmission. You will know if you have a bad transmission when you notice any of these symptoms:


  • Unusual smell


If you notice that your engine seems to be giving off a foul or burning smell, it is an indication that there is an issue. A bad transmission caused by a low fluid level can overheat and start to burn. This also makes your car overheat which means that the answer to the question, “can a bad transmission cause overheating?” is yes. 


  • Unusual or excessive noises


If you notice unusual noises, it can be caused by transmission issues. If your car has a manual transmission, you may hear loud machine-like noises coming out of nowhere. An automatic transmission might cause humming, clunking, or whining sounds to be heard. If you also hear a clunking noise whenever you shift  your gears or excessive noises like bumping sounds when your car is in neutral, it can be an indication that you have a problem with your transmission.  


  • Slow or no response at all


A working transmission will slide right into the proper gear when you engage it. If it is not and your car hesitates or is not responding, it means that something is wrong and it is usually the transmission. If your car has a manual transmission, you may feel the delayed shift along with a surge of RPM and engine noise that does not match the car’s speed. This symptom can also be caused by an issue with your clutch. To know what really caused the problem, it is better to take your car to an auto repair shop and have it checked. 


  • Fluid leak


One of the easiest transmission problems to identify is a transmission fluid leak. It can be easily spotted if you see a leaking red fluid that smells sweet . You may find it leaking or see a puddle underneath your car while it is parked. If the fluid is old, it may smell toasty and will have a darker color. You can check your transmission fluid level using the dipstick. If it is low, there might be a leak. It is important that when you notice this problem, you have to have it fixed immediately. If the fluid level drops too low, then you won’t have to ask “can a bad transmission cause overheating?” since it will most likely happen to your car. 


  • Dragging clutch


This problem happens in manual transmissions. This dragging clutch makes it hard or fails to disengage the clutch disc from the car flywheel when you press the clutch pedal. This can leave the clutch spinning. When this happens, it will be impossible to change gears since the clutch won’t be able to move the engine power to the drivetrain. 


  • Grinding or shaking


Grinding or shaking that happens when the gears change is an indication that your transmission has issues and it usually occurs in a car with an automatic transmission. You may feel your car shake or grind whenever you shift gears. A transmission in good shape will shift smoothly, so when it shakes and bounces while you are shifting gears, it is a sign that your transmission needs to be repaired. 


  • Won’t change gears


When your car refuses or finds it hard to switch gears, you might be dealing with a transmission system problem. This can be caused by low transmission fluid or you are using the wrong type of transmission fluid


If you already checked and you have the right amount of transmission fluid, the problem might be caused by some problem with the shift cables or the clutch linkage. An issue with the computer system of your car can also cause this problem. If it is, you will have to disconnect your battery for at least thirty minutes. This will reboot the computer when you reconnect it.  


Can a Bad Transmission Cause Overheating? – How Do You Know If Your Transmission is Overheating?


Now you know the signs or symptoms of a bad transmission. Since the answer to the question, “can a bad transmission cause overheating?” is yes, you might also want to know how to tell when your transmission is overheating so you can prevent it from happening. 


Transmission problems usually occur when it is overheated. Common causes of an overheating transmission include:


  • Low or contaminated transmission fluid


The transmission fluid lubricates the transmission and makes sure that the system will operate at its optimum temperature and rate. When the transmission fluid level is low or is contaminated, it causes friction between its parts which can lead to overheating. This is the most common reason for overheating. 


  • Hot weather.


Extremely hot weather can cause your fluid temperature to rise quickly and if it stays that way for a long period, it can lead to an overheating transmission. Overworked transmission fluid can also lead to overheating. The transmission fluid’s optimal temperature range is 175 to 220 degrees. If its temperature goes way above that, it will lead to a number of problems. To keep this from happening, you need to ensure that your car is given plenty of time to cool down and it is parked in a shaded area to keep its important components cool. 


  • Faulty solenoid.


An electro-hydraulic valve known as a solenoid is the one that regulates the transmission fluid that flows in and out of an automatic transmission. If it becomes faulty, the amount of fluid flowing won’t be able to flow properly which can lead to a transmission overheating. 


  • Extra load.


Extra load or weight on your car tends to make your transmission work harder. If you often tow heavy loads, this can add extra stress which can generate more heat. This can cause it to overheat especially if your car carries all the weight and is driven in hot environments. This can cause its temperature to rise quickly. 


  • Issues with the radiator and cooling system. 


The radiator and the cooling system of a car keeps all its vital components cool. If there are some problems with your radiator or cooling system, it is most likely that your transmission will start overheating soon.


These are the common reasons why a transmission overheats. Knowing what causes it to overheat can help you keep your transmission from overheating. Overheating is the most common cause of a bad transmission. Can a bad transmission cause overheating? It can. It can overheat your car which can lead to failure. A failure that will cost too much to repair 


But what if it’s too late to prevent your transmission from overheating? How do you know if your transmission is overheating? You will know if it is if you experience these symptoms:


  • Burning smell


The transmission fluid keeps the transmission lubricated and cooled, but when it gets old and contaminated, its ability to do its tasks decreases. Its internal structure will eventually break down and it becomes less efficient at reducing friction and absorbing heat. When this happens, it can lead to overheating. 


If you notice that your transmission fluid is giving off a burnt smell, then it can be an indication that your transmission is overheating. The moment you notice an acrid burning odor, have it drained and change it with a fresh one.   


  • Transmission slipping.


This problem can also be caused by an old, contaminated transmission fluid since it can no longer provide smooth shifting between gears. If your transmission is overheating, it can also result  in slipping out of gear. Transmission slipping often occurs when the transmission overheats.


However, this problem can also be caused by some other issues. It can be caused by clutch issues, worn internal gears, or bad transmission bands. It is best to take your car to an auto repair shop and have it checked to get the right diagnosis. This way, you will know what caused it and how to correct the problem. 


If you are asking, can a bad transmission cause overheating? It can. Vehicles with automatic transmissions have a separated transmission cooler that can be found inside the radiator tank. Through the said separate tank, the transmission fluid will be processed and cooled. But when the transmission of your car is not operating at its optimum level due to insufficient amount of fluid or when the fluid is contaminated or old, the transmission will be susceptible to friction, excessive wear, and slippage. When this happens, it will lead to an excessive amount of heat which will have to be processed by an already overworked cooling system. If the cooling system can’t keep up, it can result in an engine overheating. 


Since a bad transmission can cause overheating, it is important that you take good care of your transmission. You will have to check your fluids regularly like every month or so. If you check your fluid regularly, you will know if you have a dirty fluid or low fluid level. You can correct it immediately and prevent potential problems. 


Following the recommended fluid intervals set by your car’s manufacturer can also help. Transmission fluid should be changed every 30,000 to 60,000 miles depending on the make and model of your car. However, if you are driving in severe conditions or tow heavy loads, you need to do a fluid change more often. You can consult your owner’s manual to know the exact fluid change interval. 

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