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How To Tell If Your Car Has a Bad Transmission? 10 Symptoms

How To Tell If Your Car Has a Bad Transmission? 10 Symptoms

  1. Weird noises
  2. Issues with transmission response
  3. Fluid leaks
  4. Vehicle shaking or jerking
  5. Strong burning smell
  6. Difficulty switching gears
  7. Slipping gears
  8. Check engine light illuminating
  9. Loud transmission noises in neutral
  10. Clutch dragging

The transmission is one of the very critical components in your vehicle that you must maintain. When this transmission is not working, your vehicle might not work.

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE


You might be familiar with some weird behavior of your vehicle, but you cannot tell whether it's related to a bad transmission or not. Confirming that these signs indicate a bad transmission helps you save on repair costs and maintain your vehicle.

This article summarizes the 10 most common warning signs of a bad transmission and helps you answer the question, “how to tell if your car has a bad transmission?”

Causes Of Transmission Problems

What is the transmission, and what does it do?

Before we move into the details about “how to tell if your car has a bad transmission?” We must understand the main purpose of the transmission in your vehicle. This gives you an idea about how critical it is to maintain the transmission and watch for any bad transmission warning signs.


The transmission is a critical component in your vehicle that is responsible for transferring the engine's energy to the wheels not to consume too much energy. In other words, the transmission works to facilitate how much energy your vehicle needs to move the wheels when you're driving at very high speeds or very low speeds.

You don't want to keep the engine running and waste the energy if it's not needed, especially if you're driving at lower speeds. Thanks to the transmission responsible for preventing wasting this energy and keeping your vehicle running at the desired energy without consuming too much fuel.

How to tell if your car has a bad transmission? 10 warning signs

Since the transmission is a critical component that your vehicle cannot work without, you must maintain it all the time and prevent transmission damages. Watching floor early signs of that transmission help you save a lot on repair costs and saves your vehicle from a complete failure.

Here are the 10 most common warning signs of a bad transmission:

1.    Weird noises

When the transmission is about to fail or fail, you'll notice that it makes weird noises. This is because the transmission comprises hundreds of interacting minor components, and any of them could go back and result in some strong noises. So the most important question to ask yourself is, are these questions out of ordinary or typical noises?

If you confirm that these noises are new and are more like buzzing, humming, whining, or even clunking, there is a strong potential that you're dealing with a bad transmission. Therefore, you must evaluate the situation and have your mechanic explore these noises a little bit more to confirm that the engine is going bad.

Listening to these noises and detecting them early helps you save on labor costs and repair costs because you might have a chance of fixing some of the faulty components without needing to replace the entire transmission. However, ignoring these noises and thinking that they will go away on their own might not be the best decision and lead to significant repair costs.

2.    Issues with transmission response

If you do not pay attention to the weird noises, you might start noticing some abnormal behavior in your transmission itself. For example, you might notice that the transmission is not responding, or it lacks the response and takes some time before it completely does the job you're looking for.

Therefore, when you are not happy with the transmission behavior, ask the mechanic the question and tell him does this means a bad transmission? If your mechanic confirms that you're dealing with a bad transmission, you'll have to fix the faulty part and get your vehicle going.

3.    Fluid leaks

Sometimes when the transmission is bad, you'll notice some fluid leak. However, it could be the other way around. In other words, you are having fluid leaks because for whatever reason leads to damaging your transmission.

Therefore, if you notice a puddle of fluid underneath your vehicle from where the transmission is located, you should not ignore the problem. Instead, you should immediately consult your mechanic to have a closer look at the transmission and surrounding components. Whether this problem is related to the transmission itself or some other external components, it must be resolved as soon as possible.

Depending on your transmission type, you might notice that the transmission does not respond. This situation is very common in vehicles equipped with a manual transmission, where fluid is part of how the transmission works. If you don't have enough fluid, the transmission's overall performance will be disturbed.

Transmission Problem With Overdrive

4.    Vehicle shaking or jerking

A bad transmission might make some weird shaking, jerking, and other grinding noises in some instances. These symptoms are more common in vehicles equipped with manual transmission because the other vehicles equipped with an automatic transmission typically start with some hesitation in the performance of your transmission.

When the engine mounts are not in place or have any problem, that could cause the transmission jerking and the weird shaking behavior. Bringing your vehicle to the repair shop saves you a ton of money and many other complications that you never want to deal with.

5.    Strong burning smell

This symptom is typically associated with the fluid leaks in your transmission. Since the transmission does not receive the right level of lubrication, it will keep overheating. As it gets very hot, you can easily notice some weird burning smells inside the car, especially as you engage the transmission.

As a rule of thumb, whenever you notice anything weird, whether it's a weird smell or noise, you should take it seriously because it indicates some internal issues. Obviously, the more you drive your car, the more you'll notice what's a weird smell and what's a weird noise.

In most scenarios, burning smells are not good, and they indicate severe overheating issues that could damage sensitive components in your vehicle. Therefore, you must immediately check with your mechanic about what's causing this burning smell.

6.    Difficulty switching gears

In early signs of a bad transmission, you'll find it hard to switch between gears. You might have tried switching the gears yourself, but the vehicle still does not want to change the gears, which is not a good situation.

Imagine how critical this is if you are driving in traffic or on the highway. This could put your life at risk of major car crashes, which is never something you want to deal with.

Why Is My Car Burning Too Much Oil

7.    Slipping gears

If you ignore the minor transmission problems, you might start noticing some more complicated issues that aren't severe. For example, your vehicle will start dealing with slipping gears, which is a very severe situation that could also put your life at risk.

If you got to this point, that is a strong warning sign that you were dealing with a bad transmission which means you have to check with your mechanic and resolve the faulty components immediately before dealing with other complications.

8.    Check engine light illuminating

A bad transmission might trigger a check engine light in some instances. However, you must never ignore a check engine light because it's away from your vehicle to communicate with you and bring your attention to internal issues.

Ignoring a check engine light is the last thing you want to do because it can easily lead to significant damages in your car that you never want to deal with. Furthermore, when the check engine light illuminates, you cannot immediately confirm it's about transmission because a long list of potential culprits can trigger the check engine light.

However, using a simple tool like the OBD scanner helps you narrow down the problem and tells you exactly what's going on. However, suppose you don't have a scanner. In that case, you can always check with your mechanic, who will typically have a more advanced scanner that tells you the culprit and provides you with a list of potential solutions and other information.

Consequences Of A Bad Water Pump

9.    Loud transmission noises in neutral

When your vehicle is neutral, it should not make a strange, weird noise, especially from the transmission. However, if this happens, it is a strong indication that you're dealing with a bad transmission.

Therefore, immediately after noticing these strong noises coming out of the transmission compartment, you have to check with your mechanic and consult about the potentially faulty component with a new transmission before it gets more complicated.

10.  Clutch dragging

If you are driving a vehicle equipped with a manual transmission, you might even notice that it's hard to engage with the clutch and the clutch continuously drags. When this happens, you should not ignore the problem. You must go to the repair shop immediately before dealing with other problems that could damage sensitive components within your transmission.

How much does it cost to fix a bad transmission?

Let’s face it, fixing a bad transmission is not cheap. Typically, fixing a bad transmission should cost you somewhere between $1500 and $5000. Unfortunately, these repair costs might even pile up and get to a point where you must pay more than $10,000, if not more.

The other thing to think about is labor costs because it is a big component of fixing a bad transmission. Depending on where you end up fixing your transmission, you might need an additional $2000 on labor alone!

Some people might think of going to a small independent shop to save on labor costs, but that is not always the best decision because if you end up with the wrong mechanic who doesn't have the right experience, you might introduce some additional problems that will cost you way more money than going to a dealership.

Before spending a penny fixing your bad transmission, you must evaluate the situation and see if it's even worth fixing your car or selling it instead. If you end up selling your vehicle, it is essential that you contact the right people who will accept your vehicle no matter its type or condition. If you're looking for one of those people, you can always reach out to cash cars buyer at 773-791-4363!

Consequences Of A Burned Transmission Fluid

Final thoughts

Unfortunately, transmissions are not designed to last forever, and you'll get to the point of time where they fail. However, detecting early signs of transmission failure helps you save on repair costs and potentially allows you to fix your vehicle without replacing the entire transmission in some instances.

This article summarized the 10 most common warning signs of transmission to help you answer the question, “how to tell if your car has a bad transmission?” For example, if you were transmission fails and you notice that repair costs are piling up, that could be a strong sign to sell your vehicle rather than wasting your time, effort, and money.

If you're looking for someone to buy your car with a bad transmission, you'll find it challenging to convince private buyers that most dealerships might not pay the top dollars. However, there is always an ultimate option that removes your car fast and for the most money! So reach out to cash cars buyer today!

Cash Cars Buyer is one of the top-rated car removal companies in the nation that guarantees to pay you the top dollars and provide you with free towing despite your living location around the United States.

Our process is very straightforward and doesn't take more than a couple of days to get your car removed safely and for the most money.

All it takes you is to:

  • Describe your car's type and condition
  • Receive our instant free quote
  • Accept the quote
  • Get your car removed and receive your cash payment on the spot!

To learn more about our process and our team, you can reach out to us by calling us at (773) 791-4363 or visiting our home page click on the free instant online offer.