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How long can I drive with a bad transmission? – Here’s What You Need To Know

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When you are wondering how long you can drive with a bad transmission, it is key to notice some other things as well – bad transmission symptoms, cause of a bad transmission, and the ways to diagnose and fix the transmission issues in your car. 

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If you notice that when you are driving your car that there is a noise occurring from underneath the hood in your car, this can make you slow down and think about what the issue is in your car. If the sound goes away, then you might think you have gotten past the problem. However, when you start the car back up again and rev the engine, you might notice the sound getting louder and louder.


These sounds can be clear signs of a bad transmission. You might have also noticed that the car is not shifting right and is not smoothly shifting, and that his faint whining noise is back in the car. So the real question is – how long can I drive with a bad transmission?


Along with this main question, you might be asking yourself other questions regarding your vehicle. You might be wondering what happens when the transmission blows or fails, how much will it cost to repair or replace the transmission in your car, is it even worth fixing my transmission or should I sell it to a reputable car buyer, and what are the other options for me?

Can you drive with a bad transmission 


When you are determining if you can drive with a bad transmission, you need to know how long you can drive with a bad transmission to determine if you will do further damage to your car. A vehicle with a slipping transmission should not be driven for various reasons, including safety concerns for you, your passengers, and other cars on the road.


When there are clear signs of a transmission going out, it could quickly shift into different gears causing a swift kick that could cause your car to lurch forward into another vehicle, causing an accident and an unsafe situation on the road. These engine surges and transmission lurching can cause damage to your engine if left unattended, like damage to your engine mounts, leading to a transmission failure. 

Signs of transmission failure 


When you start to notice signs of a transmission slipping in your car, this means that you have a limited amount of time to fix the issue and keep your car running in smooth condition. If the transmission in your car starts to act up and is not working properly, then it is key to check it fast, either yourself or by a local mechanic. These problems can quickly escalate and cause you to not be able to drive with a bad transmission. 


Luckily, there are a few blown transmission symptoms to keep an eye out for that will alert you to when your transmission is going bad or give you information as to how long can I drive with a bad transmission. 

Slipping transmission


Regardless of whether you have an automatic transmission or a manual transmission, both of these systems contain a clutch system that is in charge of separating and changing gears, switching between the gears to let you maintain a high performance by our car. With time, this system can wear down and your transmission system will literally start to slip while changing into the next gear.


Another cause of a slipping transmission is low transmission fluid pressure, caused by low levels of transmission fluid, clogged transmission filters, or a bad pump. These issues will continue to worsen over time, until they reach the point where the transmission will completely cease and not be able to engage at all.


This can provide the answer to the question of how long can I drive with a bad transmission. 

Strange smells


As you know by now, various components in the car have their own fluid types and fluid levels, so the transmission has its own fluid to keep it running properly and prevent overheating. The transmission fluid is designed to lubricate and prevent overheating, making sure all of the gears are spinning correctly and smoothly. After the vehicle reaches a high mileage, this transmission fluid can either leak out or burn inside of the transmission.


If you see any fluid leaking under your car, check the fluid to see if it is red in color. If the fluid is red and you notice an unusual smell accompanying the red fluid leak puddle, then this can be a clear sign that your transmission is in need of service. The servicer required is a change of the transmission fluid or adding transmission fluid levels to keep it topped up correctly. If you do not do this, it can lead to a blown transmission. 

Transmission warning light


Many cars that are on the market today have various warning lights and sensors that can alert the driver, and even the passengers, to common problems inside of the car. This can prevent the problem from getting worse, and allow you to fix the issue before it turns into a costly replacement. Most of the new cars today have sensors to make sure you do not harm the car, so keep an eye out for any check engine lights that turn on your dashboard. 


This check engine light and transmission warning light shows that the transmission fluid is either running too low in the system or it is burning out too quickly, causing the temperature within the transmission system or the engine to rise beyond the normal limit. When the overheating occurs, this can cause the transmission to seize or blow. If you notice that your transmission is going to seize, you need to stop driving before you learn the hard way how long I can drive with a bad transmission. 

Rough shifting


You might notice that your shifting has become very rough, along with rough engine idling, and the car jerking while accelerating or shifting. The most common cause of hard shifts in your vehicle is low transmission fluid level, so make sure you regularly check your fluid level with the schedule that your mechanic or manufacturer has set forth for your specific car. Jerky shifting can also be caused by too much line pressure, due to a clog or malfunctioning transmission shift solenoid. If the jerking while shifting occurs, you need to ask yourself how long can I drive with a bad transmission. 

Transmission fluid leak


Along with the strange smells in your car, the fluid leak accompanies the odor coming from the transmission area. A transmission has its own fluid, as we know, that is designated just for lubrication and preventing overheating of the transmission. The fluid in the transmission is there to lubricate and ensure the gears are spinning smoothly and running together. 


If you notice that there is red fluid leaking from under your car or a weird smell, then your transmission will need a quick fluid service as soon as possible. If you do not fix the transmission fluid leak, this can cause a blown transmission. A blown transmission will mean you can't continue driving your car, answering the question of how long can I drive with a bad transmission. 

Grinding or odd sounds 


Not just automatic transmission, but both manual and automatic transmission will make strange sounds that can get quite loud when they start to go bad or become damaged over time. If you have a car with automatic transmission, you might hear a sound or some low humming noises, or even buzzing sounds coming from under the hood. 


You might also feel wobbling or unsteadiness in the gears. With a manual car and transmission, you will be able to tell that you have some serious problems when you grind into every gear and the shifting is not smooth. Regardless if you have an automatic or manual transmission, grinding or odd sounds can provide answers to the question of how long can I drive with a bad transmission. 

Transmission repair cost


Transmission issues should never go unattended or be left for too long without any fixes. What can be fixed with just a transmission fluid change, can lead to a much bigger problem if you do not take care of the issue right away. These issues can lead to a hefty transmission repair or a completely blown transmission, requiring a replacement. 


It is important to have a professional mechanic diagnose your issue to figure out what is needed to repair or fix your transmission in order to prevent the issue from spreading. Transmission repair costs can have a wide range of costs, ranging from a simple maintenance job to a full replacement. If you know how to do this yourself, then on average you might spend just $90 in parts for the transmission fluid change, including the gasket, filter, and fluid. 


The first step in determining if your car is worth replacing, or if you should just sell your car to a local and reputable buyer, then you need to assess the damage to see you how much it will cost and if it is worth more to fix the car than to sell it. The steps you need to take is that you need to take your vehicle to a professional transmission mechanic for diagnosis and quote, evaluate what your vehicle is currently worth, and decide whether to fix it or sell it. 


When you have a professional diagnose and quote your damage, this is the first step to figuring out how long I can drive with a bad transmission. If your vehicle is in good condition or is just slightly used, and the engine is still able to run while you are using your car, then it can be worth it to fix your car. Visit any local repair shop to have your repair estimate completed, although rebuilt transmissions might not be as good as a new transmission. 


The next step is to evaluate what your car is currently worth. Finding out what your vehicle is worth can determine if a hefty transmission replacement cost is worth the money you will have to dole out. Once you do this, you need to determine if the transmission is worth repairing or not, helping give you the answer to how long can I drive with a bad transmission and whether to fix it or sell it. 

Is it worth it to fix the bad transmission? 


When determining the answer as to how long can I drive with a bad transmission, the first step in determining if it is worth fixing the transmission is to assess the damage. You need to check out what the professional says about your car’s damage – if your car is completely destroyed and your engine still runs, then you could keep your car. 


If you are wondering about a rebuilt transmission, this is still a good option that can keep your car running at a high level, although not as high as new transmission. You need to evaluate what your vehicle is worth, and the cost to fix your transmission. You then need to have the repair estimate, the vehicle’s value, and undermine the next step from here. 


A used or slave transmission ranges from around $800 to $1500, a rebuilt transmission ranges from $1100 to $2800, and a remanufactured transmission ranges from around $1300 to $3400. The total cost of these services can help you answer the question of how long can I drive with a bad transmission. 


The labor to remove and replace a transmission can be quite expensive as well, with the average cost ranging from around $500 to $1200, with the labor taking between 4 to 10 hours of billed time. Despite being expensive, transmission problems should never go unattended and cause further problems. By determining what you need to have fixed in your car, you can answer yourself the question of how long can I drive with a bad transmission. 

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