A few key signs of transmission problems are easy to see and spot from the drivers or passengers. Noticing these symptoms will help prevent these issues from worsening over the years, causing a high transmission repair or replacement cost.
Let’s see the top symptoms of transmission longevity concerns and what to keep an eye out for in your vehicle! By diagnosing and fixing the internal issues before they worsen, you can keep costs at an all time low and prevent any safety concerns in your vehicle.
Transmission Won’t Stay in Gear
If you find that your car won’t move when you put your car in gear or the gear shifter has trouble moving, this could be an issue with your transmission system. A lack of gear movement is typically attributed to problems with the shifter, the shifter cable, or the valve body.
More likely, gear shifting concerns are attributed to a transmission fluid leak. If the fluid leaks, there is not enough lubrication to smoothly and efficiently move the gears through the process. This is especially prevalent in newer vehicles that require the powertrain control module and the computer to control the transmission mechanism.
If the computer is not working properly, then you will be unable to select gears – one of the most common signs of transmission problems.
Secondly, another sign of transmission problems is delayed shifting or missing gears. If it takes a long time for your transmission to go into gear, this is typically due to a low level of transmission fluid or fluid contamination. If your fluid is debris-filed or not at the correct level, it can lead to overheating, excess friction, and internal transmission damage.
When looking at the most common signs of transmission problems, a slipping transmission is definitely one of the top concerns. This condition is typically due to low transmission fluid, contaminated fluid, or lack of maintenance in the mechanism. If you couple the slipping transmission with a revving engine, then this is a sign that you have worn-out clutches or a damaged transmission mechanism.
Causes of Transmission Slipping
If you do not know why the automatic transmission slips when accelerating, there is usually an answer – and it can sometimes require you to repair or replace certain parts. The cause of the automatic transmission slipping when accelerating will depend on the kind of transmission that you have in your vehicle. There are three main types of transmission – automatic, standard or manual, and CVT – continuously variable transmission.
Sometimes, the automatic transmission slipping when accelerating can be due to the transmission fluid burning. If the fluid is not the right color, like black instead of red, or you notice a burning smell, this is likely the culprit. Burnt fluid can occur when the transmission overheats, and there is too much friction. In this case, you need to swap out your transmission fluid.
Both automatic and manual transmission use clutches, and although the issue is more common in manual cars, automatic cars can still succumb to clutch issues. These clutch issues can cause automatic transmission to slip when accelerating. In an automatic car, the transmission and the torque converter have clutch plates that can become worn out and damaged due to insufficient transmission fluid.
If you find that red fluid is gathered or pooled under your car, this is a clear sign that you have a transmission fluid leak. Fluid leaking is one of the most common signs of transmission problems and one of the most noticeable since it is easy to see and recognize. Make sure you or a mechanic checks your dipstick for proper fluid level, condition, and clarity.
Diagnosing a Fluid Leak
To diagnose the signs of transmission problems, you need to learn how to check your transmission fluid level. In many cars, you can do this very easily by using a dipstick in the engine bay. The dipstick will look like the oil dipstick but will be red in color. The transmission dipstick is usually located near the engine bay by the firewall, with the transmission fluid level needing to be checked while the engine is running and warm.
When you pull out the transmission dipstick, you need to note a few different things – the color, the color it should be, and the fluid condition. If you are having trouble looking at the fluid, you can hold the transmission fluid up to bright light and look for any debris like metal shavings in your transmission. Any debris or shavings can indicate internal transmission damage.
After this, if you need to change the transmission fluid, you need to look at the transmission filter and make sure it is not clogged and free of debris, making sure it can perform the function of siphoning out particles cleaning the fluid in your transmission. This cleaning process prevents any further signs of transmission problems from harming your vehicle.
Can low transmission fluid levels cause signs of transmission problems?
It can happen. You need to check the transmission level as a low fluid level that can cause low pressure in your transmission that can lead to the slipping transmission while operating your vehicle. If you analyze the transmission and determine that the transmission fluid level is too low, you should top it off with your manufacturer’s fluid.
The only way your transmission fluid level is low can be due to an oil leak that needs to be fixed before you lose any additional transmission fluid. You can quickly and easily seal the fluid leak by adding a sealer to your transmission fluid to prevent the automatic transmission from slipping when accelerating.
If there is a burning smell in your car, this is one of the most noticeable signs of transmission problems. This is typically caused by leaking fluid, low fluid levels, or a burning clutch in the transmissions. If you catch the fluid leak before it is too late, you could save the transmission from long-term damage.
Buzzing or Clunking Noises
Suppose you hear certain noises in your car, especially if they are coming from under the hood, like humming, clunking, or buzzing. In this case, the problem usually shows an internal issue, like a bad bearing or planetary gear damage that can harm the transmission over time. Buzzing can also be due to a low transmission fluid level, a broken seal, or internal surfaces that have become damaged over time.
Check Engine Light on Dashboard
One of the final signs of transmission problems is the check engine light illuminated on your dashboard. Although this light can come on for various reasons, like overheating engine, solenoid issues, speed sensor concerns, and other electrical concerns, it can alert you to the transmission slipping. To determine if this is the cause of the transmission problems, you have to retrieve the trouble codes to see what systems are causing trouble in your car.
Clutch Pedal Grabs Too Low or Too High
One of the final signs of transmission problems is specific to manual cars and the clutch pedal. If you find that the clutch pedal is difficult to depress or hard to control, this is a sure symptom that something is off in the transmission mechanism.
The clutch plays a critical role in the vehicle's overall functioning. Therefore, if something goes wrong, the performance will immediately suffer. If you notice that the clutch pedal is lower to the car's floor than it should be, chances are your clutch is in need of immediate repair or service.
The average clutch replacement cost is between $1,200 and $1,400. The cost of hte parts typically ranges between $700 and $750, while the cost of the labor is between $500 and $600 on average. Depending on the shop you bring your vehicle to, or where you live, the average clutch replacement cost can go upward of $800.
Gears Grinding When Shifting
The final sign of transmission problems is also specific to manual cars. Although not as common, many drivers still use manual cars, especially abroad or in tough climates. If you notice that the gears are grinding when shifting, this is typically due to the clutch failing to release, the shift synchronizer breaking, and the shifter having an adjustment issue.
You can fix this sign of a transmission problem by changing your oil or fluid, analyzing your oil for contamination, and ensuring you are using the right type of oil.
The Bottom Line
Figuring out the most common signs of transmission problems can help you keep your car running healthily for a long period of time. Although fixing the transmission is an expensive process, repairing or replacing the necessary parts can help save you safety and performance issues in the long run.