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Signs of a Faulty Transmission – Stick To A Routine Maintenance Schedule! 

Signs of a Faulty Transmission – Stick To A Routine Maintenance Schedule! 

When it comes to your transmission, some certain noticeable signs and symptoms can clue in drivers to issues going on with their vehicle. If you want to keep your car operating safely on the road, then your transmission needs to be in tip-top shape. Analyzing the running and performance of your car can help you recognize the signs of a faulty transmission before yearly transmission failure occurs.

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE

Lack of Maintenance

One of the most common signs of a faulty transmission is the lack of maintenance. The leading cause of transmission failure occurs due to drivers not adhering to regular maintenance schedules and ignoring obvious symptoms of problems in their vehicle. If drivers ignore replacing their fluid, replenishing coolant levels, and changing the filters at the right intervals, it can lead to transmission performance issues. 


The fluid is an extremely important component of the transmission and the engine. However, if the fluid is contaminated, leaking, or at a low level, then this can lead to premature failure and other signs of a faulty transmission.

Fluid Leaking

Transmission leaks are among the most common signs of a faulty transmission in vehicles on the road today. Unfortunately for car owners, transmission leaks can lead to further longevity issues, such as pan gasket repairs, axle and driveshaft seal leaks, or transmission cooling line leaks. 


If you find a leak in your transmission, then you need to see the origin of the leak to plug the seal and prevent any further liquid from pooling. Repairing a cooling line or a pan gasket to seal the opening can be an inexpensive fix to one of the most frequent signs of a faulty transmission.

Check Engine Light

The third issue when talking about signs of a faulty transmission is the check engine light illuminating your dashboard. Although This light will come on for various reasons, this warning light is an obvious signal that something is off in the transmission mechanism – and does not necessarily mean that your engine is at fault.


The light can come on due to problems in different car systems, like the transmission, lights, electrical, engine, or air conditioning mechanisms. Hence, you must use a diagnostic tool to retrieve the trouble codes and see where the signs of a faulty transmission are originating from.

Gear Slipping

If you don’t know what gear slipping feels like, you will most likely notice this problem by high engine revving and a lack of acceleration and horsepower. Other warning signs of a faulty transmission and gear slipping include trouble shifting gears, sliding sounds, high RPM, burnt fluid, low fluid levels, and a check engine light. 


These signs of a faulty transmission can either begin before or after your transmission begins slipping, so bringing your car in for immediate work when you notice the problems and signs can help you prevent even more damage. Maintaining fluid levels and parenting leaks are the main preventative measures to avoiding gear slipping.

No Shifting Capabilities

The transmission bands are key parts in your mechanism that wrap around internal parts, allowing quick upshifting and downshifting. Inside the transmission, the solenoids, sensors, fluid pump, and pistons all work together to control pressure and determine when to shift and how hard. 


However, if any of these parts fail or do not work properly, it can lead to one of the main signs of a faulty transmission. 

Burning Smell

Most of the time, a burning smell in your vehicle results from excessively-hot or leaking transmission fluid that has escaped from a seal. By checking your fluid levels and looking for leak signs, you can prevent the burning smell from occurring every time you turn the ignition in your car.

Solenoid Problems

Even though most divers may not have heard of solenoids, they are a major part that controls the upshifting and downshifting while the car is in motion. However, like any part that can succumb to wear and tear, solenoids may become too damaged over time to function at the necessary performance level. 


The main signs of a faulty transmission and solenoid issues include strange shifting patterns, the car not going into gear, inability to shit up or down, delays in changing gears, and flaring shifts. If your car’s computer is not working well, then it will not be able to control how fast, when, or how hard to shift gears. 

Shaking Feeling

Noticing strange sounds and noises from under the hood of your car is an alerting and concerning issue that no driver wants to hear. Vibrations, shaking, and grinding is typically the result of excess friction in the engine or transmission, with shaking typically being tracked back to concerns within the gear system, bearings, or half shafts. 


Along with automatic transmission problems, signs of a faulty transmission in manual cars can be traced back to grinding gear shifts and concerns with clutch longevity. 

Shifting Delays

If you are a driver who is used to the feel of your manual car’s transmission, then you will surely notice when they are shifting delays and performance reductions. You can spot shifting delays pretty quickly, with the engine revving excessively before the shift and performance issues with the clutch.


Other signs of a faulty transmission and causes of shifting delays include transmission solenoid problems, engine concerns, low or dirty fluid, clogged filters, and transmission cooler issues.

Clutch Pedal Laxity

For those who have a manual car, a clutch that will not engage or change gears smoothly is one of the most noticeable signs of a faulty transmission. A faulty clutch makes it impossible to shift gears without loud grinding noises – in some of the most severe cases, the drier will not be able to change gears at all. 


Even though you may notice the clutch issues right away, you might not know the root cause of the shifting problem. For a clutch to engage from the flywheel, the clutch disc needs to release the pressure. If the clutch, flywheel, clutch disc, or slave cylinder are not working at the optimal level, you will notice one of the most common signs of a faulty transmission. 

Noise While In Neutral

If there is a strange sound coming from your transmission when you are in the Neutral position, this is a clear sign that something is wrong with your transmission or your engine. Possible signs of a faulty transmission, in this case, deal with worn-out bearings, loose parts, unsteady exhaust system, and engine performance issues. 

Rebuilding a Transmission

If you find that rebuilding a transmission is the best way to remedy the signs of faulty transmission, keep in mind this process is pricey, labor-intensive, and potentially expensive. The mechanic you pay to perform this process will have to disassemble the entire mechanism, look for problems, and replace the parts.


When looking at the process of rebuilding or replacing a transmission, three main aspects must be checked before you, or a mechanic can carry out this process.

Change Transmission Fluid

Firstly, you need to change the transmission fluid to prevent some of the most common signs of a faulty transmission. The cause of many problems is low fluid levels, resulting in a decline in fuel efficiency and miles-per-gallon earned. Low fuel levels cause shifting to become sticky and much more time-consuming. 

Run Trouble Codes

Secondly, check for any diagnostic trouble codes by checking your car’s computer system that controls automatic shifting. Transmission slipping, hard shifts, and lack of gear changes can result in signs of a faulty transmission that stem from the computer not reading the engine RPMs correctly.

Test Drive

Lastly, car owners or mechanics must test drive the car and inspect the internal parts for any longevity issues. After the diagnostic tests are run, the technician will have to remove the transmissions and disassemble them to find the cause of the signs of a bad transmission. 

Average Transmission Costs

The average cost to replace a transmission ranges between $1800 and $3400, with a used or salvage option being the cheapest option out of all methods. The used or salvage transmission ranges between $800 and $1500, while a rebuilt transmission is between $1100 and $2800, and the remanufactured choice is between $1300 and $3400. 


The labor to remove and reinstall a transmission is between $500 and $1200 at most dealerships and mechanic shops, with the typical time period ranging between 4 and 10 hours of billed time. 

Factors that Affect the Cost

The total cost of transmission repair and replacement will differ depending on various factors. One of the main categories that will change the total price of repairs is the make, model, and year of your car. In addition, the age of your vehicle will make a huge difference in the total price you will spend.


Older cars with rarer parts are typically more expensive to repair, while a newer car will have fewer concerns when finding replacement parts. Lastly, manual vehicles typically cost less to repair or replace, while signs of a faulty transmission in automatic vehicles are costlier to fix.

The Bottom Line

Figuring out the most common signs of faulty transmissions to look out for in your vehicle can help you save money on the total repair and replacement costs!