The transmission pump is the part of the transmission made up of moving parts and controls the oil flow within the transmission.
As these pumps age, they can become worn, causing the oil pressure light to come on or developing shifting issues. Replacing this pump is not easy, but some things can help determine if your car has a bad one.
However, before you decide on replacing the transmission pump, it is essential that you first ask yourself, “how do you know if your transmission pump is bad?”
This article will help you determine if the transmission pump is bad by giving you some guidelines on knowing if your car needs one.
What is a transmission pump, and what does it do?
The transmission pump is that part of the transmission made up of moving parts and controls the oil flow within the transmission. Without a properly working and functioning transmission pump, shifting issues will develop. Replacing this pump can be quite expensive; however, some things will help you determine if your car needs one.
There are two main types of transmission pumps: mechanical and hydraulic. The powertrain control module (PCM) that controls the engine's operation, traction control system (TCS), ABS, etc., operates the hydraulic type. In contrast, the other one is mechanically operated by oil pressure generated inside the transmission, which forces it to turn.
How to know if your transmission pump is bad?
Since the transmission pump is a vital component in your vehicle, every driver needs to understand when this pump is going or about to go bad.
The good news is that there are very common symptoms indicating that it's time to replace the transmission pump. Here are the ten symptoms of a bad transmission pump:
1- The car does not shift smoothly
If you notice that the car doesn't smoothly shift to the next gear, i.e., it starts and jerks forward when you shift from first to second or vice versa, there may be something wrong with the transmission pump.
2- Fluid Leak
A leak in the transmission fluid may also cause a delay in the gear shifting. If you notice that your transmission fluid is leaking out, which may end up harming other components, including the electrical wiring and connectors, then it is time to replace the faulty pump.
3- Loud Noise
Loud noise when shifting from one gear to another may indicate something wrong with the transmission pump. This can make driving difficult and increase repair costs, so replacing this part is better than spending money on repairs.
4- The check engine light
If you see an illuminated check engine light on your car's dashboard after driving around for some miles, keep in mind that there might be something wrong with your vehicle's transmission pump. So, visit a mechanic before the issue gets worse.
5- Abrupt Shifting
If you notice that your car's transmission is shifting abruptly, then it may be caused by a faulty transmission pump or some other transmission-related problems. So, make sure to diagnose this issue properly and replace the part if required.
6- Strong Odor of Burning Oil
The strong odor of burning oil coming from under the hood may mean something wrong with the transmission's hydraulic system, including the fluid pump. Replacing it will fix this problem permanently.
7- Transmission Fluid Level Low
A low level of transmission fluid can indicate something wrong with either the tank or its control valve. In both cases, replacing must be done as soon as possible to avoid causing further harm.
8- Soft or Hard Shift
A defective transmission pump may also cause a hard or soft shift in transmission. So, it's a good idea to change the fluid and filter before taking your car to a mechanic.
9- The Oil Level Low
If you have already changed the oil, but it is low again, there might be something wrong with either the control valve or the bad transmission pump, which needs replacement. In this case, replacing the leaking part will solve the problem once and for all.
10- Rough Shifting After Driving Short Distances
A rough shifting from one gear to another after driving short distances may need the replacement of the hydraulic system, including the powertrain control module (PCM), EP brake, transmission filter, and fluid pumps. Replacing the pump will fix this issue for good.
How much will it cost to replace a transmission pump?
The cost of replacing the transmission pump varies depending on the vehicle. However, it is recommended to make sure that the part you are purchasing is genuine as there are many aftermarket pumps available for sale at low prices, which can cause problems in your vehicle. So make sure you are buying a genuine replacement part at an authorized dealership.
The type of fluid used for transmission is very important as it plays a crucial role in the smoothness and effectiveness of your vehicle's gearbox. You can use a transmission fluid (also called transmission oil) with specifications recommended by the manufacturer; otherwise, using the wrong kind of fluids may damage the pump and save you cash on repair fees in the long run.
Replacing the transmission pump will take you around 60 minutes, and it costs between $150 and $280. However, you need to replace the whole hydraulic system most of the time, including the powertrain control module (PCM), EP brake, fluid filter, and fluid pumps. Replacing all these components can cost up to $1,500, which is also a good reason to follow the maintenance schedule recommended by the manufacturer.
How can you prevent your transmission pump from going bad?
As you might notice, dealing with a bad transmission pump is never a fun situation. That's why automotive experts put together some tips and tricks to extend the lifetime of your transmission pump.
- Make sure you are using the right type of fluid for your car
- Keep an eye on the color and consistency of the fluid as it changes if there's something wrong with it.
- Check your owner's manual or maintenance schedule to know when you should change your transmission oil.
- Replacing worn-out parts with genuine replacement parts will keep your pump and other components in check.
- If you hear some odd sounds coming from the pump, it's a good idea to have someone look at it as soon as possible.
- You can extend the lifetime of your car by changing the filter and fluid every 30K miles instead of 60K miles which is what manufacturers generally recommend.
- An automatic transmission fluid cooler will eliminate excess heat from damaging the system even further.
- Make sure you use only approved additives to clean up debris stuck between gears and bearings throughout your vehicle.
- As recommended, drive around 50 MPH but avoid accelerating too fast or slowing down too, as this type of driving can cause unnecessary stress and may lead to problems with your transmission pump.
- Whenever you are getting an oil change, make sure the mechanic is using approved fluids as using low-quality or wrong kinds of fluids can cause damage to both the transmission pump and other components, which will also save you cash on repair fees in the long run.
What causes a bad transmission pump?
There's always a reason why something has gone wrong, and that includes car parts failing due to several reasons such as:
1- Clogged filter
It may be clogged due to excess dirt and debris throughout your vehicle. This situation will affect the pressure inside the system and lead to the early failure of the pump. Replacing it should fix this issue for good.
2- Low fluid
If your car is low on fluid, then this situation can also damage the pump by causing overheating, which will lead to premature failure of the pump.
3- Mechanical issues
Worn-out gearbox or bearings, as well as some other mechanical issues such as a faulty circuit board, may be the cause of your bad transmission pump. Replacing all these parts will reduce stress and keep everything in check for good.
4- Damaged seal
Apart from looking weak and fragile, leaking fluid, at any rate, may be caused by a damaged seal or gasket, which should be replaced right away. Replacing it will prevent further damages and unnecessary repair costs.
5- Low voltage
Using up all battery power due to short circuits or some other electrical issues may cause your pump to stop working properly, which will lead to more serious problems with other parts, so replacing it should fix this issue for good.
6- Mechanical failure
Any of the mechanical components of your vehicle, such as gears and bearings, can be tricky to repair or replace, which is why you need to have everything checked by a certified auto mechanic. Having them repaired or replaced will keep your car in check for an extended period.
7- High voltage
Overcharging or using an incompatible alternator may damage some crucial components, including your transmission pump, causing further damages and unnecessary repair costs. Replacing it should solve this issue for good.
8- Broken driveshaft
If there's something wrong with your driving shaft, this situation may cause serious problems with your transmission pump, which may need to be fixed immediately. Replacing it should solve this issue for good.
9- Wrong oil
Using the wrong kind of fluid or putting too many additional elements into your automatic transmission can both damage various components, so that's why using only approved fluids is recommended as they come up with high quality, and they're safe to use inside your transmission. Replacing your bad pump should solve this issue for good.
How To Know If Your Transmission Pump Is Bad? FAQs
This section answers some of the most frequently asked questions related to car repairs, especially when it comes to transmission pumps.
What does a failing transmission pump sound like?
A bad transmission pump may make some unusual noises or become loud, so if you hear any of these sounds, then this is a clear sign that your pump needs to be repaired or replaced ASAP.
Can you replace just the transmission pump?
In most cases, replacing the entire automatic transmission is recommended. Having them replaced together will offer better results and quality of service.
Can a bad transmission pump damage other components?
Yes, if some of the key components, such as gears or bearings, are damaged, then you will need to have them replaced right away to prevent further damages and unnecessary repair costs.
Can a transmission pump be fixed?
Yes, there are cases when a transmission pump can be repaired instead of replaced. However, in most cases, replacing it with a new one is recommended.
How do you test a transmission pump?
You can determine whether your transmission pump is bad by testing it in a professional garage or workshop. Testing your pump will allow you to know whether it's the right time for repair or replacement.
How often do transmission pumps need changing?
It's recommended that you change your transmission pump every 80,000 miles or so to prevent further damages and unnecessary repair costs. Replacing your bad one should solve this issue for good.
When should you check a transmission pump?
Check your transmission every time you get a chance, especially if you feel some unusual noises or other signs of damage. Regularly checking your car is recommended to prevent major damages and unnecessary repair costs.
Can a bad transmission pump cause squeaking noise while driving?
Yes, if your bad pump is spinning, this may cause additional noises, which can be annoying. However, replacing your bad one should solve this issue for good.
How long does it take to fix a transmission pump?
It takes about an hour or more in most cases, but that depends on how complicated the repairs are. Replacing your bad one should solve this issue for good.
Are all transmission pumps the same?
There are numerous models and types of transmission pumps that may vary in efficiency and quality. Replacing your bad one should solve this issue for good.
The bottom line is that your transmission pump can fail for several reasons. The best way to avoid this costly mistake is by regularly checking the condition of other parts in your car, avoiding driving at high speeds or low speeds, and always using approved fluids.
Notice any problems with your vehicle's performance, such as hesitation while accelerating, whining noise when moving between gears, or clunking sounds when shifting from one gear to another. It may be time to have professional auto repair done on your car before more damage occurs!