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How to Know When Your transmission Is Going Out: A Complete Guide

Selling A Car With A Bad Transmission

You cannot drive your vehicle if your car’s transmission is not working properly. So how do you know when your transmission is going out? As any other parts of a car, it will give off signs easily noticeable for you to know if there is a problem. The transmission, which is also called the gearbox, is a fundamental component in a typical car engine.

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In this article, you will know the answers to the most asked questions about the transmission. What does it do? What happens when your transmission is going out? What can you do with a bad gearbox? Can you continue driving your vehicle with a damaged transmission? What are the signs of a bad transmission? Keep reading to find out more about the indispensable component in your vehicle- the transmission.

If you have troubles with your vehicle, perhaps it is time to start educating yourself about its fundamental components. You may have already asked yourself, “What does a car transmission do?” “Is it that important? Why?” As for its importance, the transmission is unquestionably vital for your automobile to work at its best. As its nickname suggests, the transmission or the gearbox is in charge of shifting the gears in your vehicle. Shifting gears manually or automatically ensures that the wheels receive the power that they need.

How does this work? The transmission system is in charge of converting combustion power from the engine into mechanical force. For this to happen, fuel is ignited in your vehicle’s engine from the combustion chamber. Inside your engine are cylinders and pistons that also help with the combustion process. This process turns explosive energy into mechanical energy. This is where the transmission needs to get in. All the energy produced in the engine will be meaningless if you cannot control it. With the transmission in play, the right amount of energy is delivered to the wheels of your vehicle making it possible for your car to move around at the right speed.

Now that you know how important the gearbox is, you won’t miss knowing when your transmission is going out. In the next section, you will be introduced to the symptoms of a bad car transmission engine. You may also get some tips on what to do when your transmission is going out so read on.

What are the symptoms of a bad transmission?

Fortunately for all car owners and technicians, every component in a vehicle shows off signs when it goes bad. If you maintain your car the best way possible, you will save yourself from spending a lot of money on repairs or replacements. Transmissions are also one of the most expensive to replace and the rates just go up depending on labor costs and the make of your car. In this section, you will be introduced to the signs you need to look out for to know when your transmission is going out. All these symptoms are quite easy to notice.

  1. Your car’s engine emits weird smells
    It is normal to notice weird smells from your engine if you go for long road trips. However, if you smell a burning odor coming from the engine, you may need to pull over to the side of the road right away. A burning smell is a sure signal that something is not right with your engine. The gearbox may be running low on transmission fluid which causes the transmission to overheat and begin to burn. If the transmission system is not the cause of the weird burning smell, your vehicle may be suffering from a melting heating core or trapped plastic. Whatever the cause of the burning smell, you need to have your vehicle checked right away.


  1. You hear clunking noises from your car
    If you hear clunking, whining, humming, or excessive noises from your vehicle, you are having transmission problems in your hands. This symptom is more likely to be noticed with automatic transmission vehicles. Be more observant when you try to shift gears. Continued use of a vehicle that has sure transmission issues is dangerous. Make sure to have a mechanic look into the problem. You may also consider checking the transmission fluid. One of the reasons why you hear clunking noises is because of low fluid in the gearbox or you got the wrong transmission fluid. In other cases, your vehicle may just need bearings or gear teeth replacement.


  1. The gearbox is not responding
    If you own an automatic, you must know that the transmission slides easily into the right gear. On the other hand, transmission problems give you the opposite. You may notice that your car does not respond when you try to shift gears. This is an obvious telltale that your transmission is going out. If you drive a vehicle with a manual transmission, the symptom may come as a sudden RPM (revolutions per minute) surge and noises aside from the shifting delay. You may also notice a dragging clutch accompanied by grunting noises in the manual that you drive. Has your vehicle been checked right away? Aside from an unresponsive transmission, slipping in the wrong gears will give you a headache. Not only is an abrupt change in gear dangerous, but it can also damage your engine.


  1. Fluid is leaking from you engine
    Transmission fluid has several uses in your vehicle. The main functions of the transmission fluid are the following: clearing your windshield, aiding for easy steering, controlling the brakes, lubricating, and cooling. Usually, low transmission fluid is caused by leakage. If fluid leaks from your engine, you need to replace it right away. Fluid leaks are easy to detect. Automatic vehicle fluid is reddish in color and can sometimes come in a darker hue. If fluid persists to leak, you may need a transmission reseal.


  1. Your vehicle is shaking
    When your transmission is going out, you may experience shaking in your vehicle when you shift your gears while you are driving. A healthy transmission system allows you to shift gears with ease therefore prevent any difficulty when driving. You may think that you can just keep driving despite your vehicle jerking now and then. However, the shaking and jerkiness will gradually increase overtime if left unchecked. If you are driving a manual and experience shaking and jerkiness in your vehicle while driving, you may need to have your clutch adjusted or replaced.


If you notice or experience any of these symptoms, do not ignore them. Signs of your transmission going out are easy to fix if you take immediate action. However, leaving your transmission problems unsolved may cause danger not only to your engine but also to your well-being as the driver.

Can you drive with a bad transmission?

Simply speaking, yes. You can still drive with a bad transmission. It is unusual to have a transmission break down completely and abruptly without even showing signs of damage. So technically, you can continue driving your car even when your transmission is going out but you must be prepared for the negative consequences. It is only a matter of time before it completely stops working so you must be sure to weigh how much risk you can take to drive your vehicle. Nevertheless, having a bad transmission can bring great discomfort to your driving which leads to safety risks and even worse- accidents.

First and foremost, you will have some trouble with shifting gears. Various symptoms can signal you when your transmission is going out but the most common one is rough shifting gear. Whenever there are delays with your shifting, the valves in the engine grind and take damage. Mechanical over-revving may occur which means you will have less control over your car's speed. This can be extremely dangerous especially if your car is in motion.

Car transmission problems can occur in a variety of ways and each of those problems is caused by different factors. Some may only need minimal repairs while some may involve extensive rehabilitation which may cost a few hundred dollars. Therefore, there is a constant need for awareness regarding when the transmission is going out.

Once the transmission starts experiencing dilemmas or starts malfunctioning, it will automatically result in damages to the driveshaft and suspension of your car. It is no surprise to have other internal parts of your vehicle damaged if you keep driving with a bad transmission. There is no guarantee of when your vehicle is going to break down but it could happen in a time that you least expect. Thus, there is a big chance that you are not prepared once it happens. The best way to avoid this is to have your automobile checked. You must cease the problem before it gets worse.

There is no denying that knowing when your transmission is going out is an invaluable factor in avoiding safety risks in your driving. A broken transmission is not something to be neglected and the repair for such a car issue must not be procrastinated. Most people worry first about how long they can go or still drive with a damaged transmission. Such concern cannot fix anything as long as you postpone your transmission repair. It is better to act on the problem as soon as possible instead of waiting for the car transmission to get completely ruined.

How to keep a healthy transmission?

Prevention is always better than cure. Thus, keeping a healthy transmission is more advantageous than getting a full repair when the transmission is getting out. You can undertake a few precautions to keep your car in its optimal performance. Here are some suggestions you may apply to maintain your car transmission in the finest shape.


  1. Do routine maintenance on your car
    Routine maintenance plays an important role in the overall performance of not only your transmission but also other major parts of the vehicle. It sustains your car on a long-term basis. You can schedule routine maintenance a few times each month. It is also suggested that you set scheduled routine maintenance based on your car's engine mileage once a year. Doing basic routine maintenance can reduce breakdown risks for your vehicle. You can do this routine maintenance by first checking your car's exterior parts. Then check the glasses of your car. Maintain the cleanliness of the glass surfaces and watch out for chips, dirt, scratches, and cracks on your car's surfaces. Inspect your steering wheel and your stick shift. Check if everything is working properly before you drive.


  1. Keep up with your engine's transmission flushes.

It is strongly advised that you set scheduled routine maintenance based on your car's engine mileage. Changing our engine fluids is of utmost importance because low fluids automatically translate to future difficulties for your vehicle. Replace your transmission fluid when the mileage reaches every 3,000 to 7,000 miles then every 15,000 to 30,000 miles. Make sure to follow the maintenance schedule that you have set and take your car to the mechanic as often as possible.


3.      Don’t ride on the brake pedal

You might be doing this out of habit. However, keeping your foot on the brake pedal while driving can strain your transmission. Be reminded that the transmission is responsible for shifting your car speed. Stepping on the brakes while driving can cause unnecessary work for the transmission.

4.     Completely Halt Before Shifting From Reverse To Drive.

One of the most familiar scenarios every time someone is backing out of a parking spot is instantly shifting into drive. This is actually a malpractice in driving that can damage your automobile's transmission. Get into the habit of stopping completely every time you are driving in reverse before shifting to drive. You can prevent unnecessary strain to the transmission.

  1. Make sure to tune your engine accurately

As you may already know, the transmission and engine are closely related as the main parts of your vehicle. If one of the two has issues, you can bet that the other will suffer damages as well. Your car's transmission is directly mounted to the engine as it converts the combustion into momentum that drives the wheels of the vehicles. In short, tuning your engine will do much good to your transmission since they work hand-in-hand with each other.


All things considered, your car's transmission proves to be one of the most vital parts of your vehicle. Not only is it the driving force of your wheels but it ultimately affects and is affected by every major component of the car. Knowing when your transmission is going out is not enough. You must make the necessary steps to prevent damages before they happen and the required repair after the damage occurs.

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