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Common Tiptronic Transmission Problems: Everything You Need to Know!

Tiptronic Transmission Problems

The tiptronic transmission is an automatic transmission that is built and designed to be manually shifted using either the  standard sequential shifter or wheel mounted paddles. It allows the driver to manually select gears, overrides the computer that controls the normal shifting and instead of a clutch, it uses a torque converter. It is a transmission that allows drivers to experience the best of both worlds – the automatic and manual transmissions. However, just like any other parts of a vehicle, there are also some common tiptronic transmission problems that drivers have reported. These problems include shifting problems, solenoid N89 failures, and torque converter shudder. 

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Tiptronic Transmission Problems: How does a Tiptronic transmission work?


The tiptronic transmission is not the first attempt to combine the traits of the manual and automatic transmissions. When the automatic transmission first came out, there had been many attempts by carmakers like Packard and Chrysler to create a transmission that adopts automatic characteristics to a manual gearbox that are known as the semi-automatics. This type of transmission uses orchestrated clutch movements in gear shifts with no driver intervention. 


A tiptronic transmission is a transmission that adopts the characteristics of a manual transmission to an automatic gearbox. It is basically an automatic gearbox that allows the drivers to change their gears manually. The first tiptronic transmission was introduced by Porsche for its 1990 Porsche 911. Now, there are a lot of modern European cars and some Japanese cars that use tiptronic transmissions. 


How does a tiptronic transmission work? The tiptronic transmission works just like a regular automatic, it can change the gears for you. However, if you change it into tiptronic mode, the car will no longer change the gear for you but allows you to change the gear yourself. To control the tiptronic gearbox, the car will have either an additional gate within the gear shift lever or selectors like buttons or paddles mounted on the steering wheel.  It is usually indicated by a ➕ sign for upshifting or a ➖ sign for downshifting. To change it, all you need to do is to switch the gear stick to the correct option. When the manual shifting has been engaged, the driver can override the computer’s transitioning between gears and directly instruct the torque converter of the transmission.    


Many modern cars today that are equipped with a tiptronic transmission are also being installed with some safety features that limit the engine’s speed in certain gears so you won’t damage your car or experience tiptronic transmission problems when you do not remember when to change or when you accidentally turned on the tiptronic mode. The safety measures keep your engine from being damaged by making sure that it will not hit the RPM red line when you are manual shifting. In addition, if it detects an inactivity through tiptonic’s manual shifting after a certain period, the computer will resume controlling gear shifts. 


Tiptronic Transmission Problems: Are Tiptronic transmissions reliable?


The tiptronic transmission is a pretty reliable and advanced transmission. It is originally designed and built for higher powered cars. It is known for its strength and many car owners are modifying their tiptronic vehicles to be able to achieve more than 300 horsepower. Like the automatic transmissions, the tiptronic transmission is also built to be sturdy with its planetary-gear design. 


Is the tiptronic transmission safe? Like mentioned earlier, the tiptronic transmissions are equipped with safety features that make it safe to use. Here are some of the reasons why tiptronic transmissions are safe. 


  • When the tiptronic mode is engaged, the car will not be able to go over the rev limit, preventing you from redlining the car and getting your head gasket damaged. 


  • It ensures that your engine is in good condition and that you won’t encounter tiptronic transmission problems by not allowing you to rev for a long period. It will be impossible to do so since the installed safety software will switch back to automatic mode and change to the appropriate gears when it happens. 


  • Since it will be impossible to rev your engine  too much and for a long time, your car will not be prone to spinning out or throwing it into a drift. 


  • It can provide safety since you remain in full control of your car all the time but when the safety software detects that you are no longer in full control, it will switch back into its automatic mode to make sure that the engine is turning over at its appropriate speed.  


Like any other transmissions, the tiptronic transmission is only as safe as how you drive and use it. If you have bad driving habits and is an unsafe driver, then the tiptronic transmission will just be as unsafe as the others. But overall, this type of transmission is known to be safe and is reliable.  

Tiptronic Transmission Problems: What are the common tiptronic transmission problems?


The tiptronic transmission uses an advanced technology and is built to be reliable and safe but it is not without a fault. Just like any other transmission, it is also susceptible to a number of tiptronic transmission problems. 


  • Shifting problems.


One of the tiptronic transmission problems is the shifting problems. There have been some reports that their tiptronic transmissions are prone to hard 1 to 2 upshifts and erratic 3 to 4 for shifting. These issues can be corrected by software updates or a reprogram.  


  • Faulty solenoid N89. 


The tiptronic transmission has an important solenoid labeled as N89 and this solenoid has been reported to fail. When this N89 fails, it results in a sudden shift from gear 4 to gear 1. This can happen since the tiptronic transmissions use several solenoids in different combinations to engage its gears. The first and fourth gear basically have the same solenoid arrangement except the solenoid N89. If the N89 sticks in the 3rd to 4th gear change, it could end up in the first gear instead of the fourth gear. When this happens, it can cause your car to decelerate rapidly, as if you are slamming on the brakes. 


  • Transmission shudder. 


Transmission shudders have also been reported as one of the common tiptronic transmission problems. This issue might be caused by a failing torque converter. You may be able to hear a rattling sound or you may find it difficult to get out of first gear. An issue with a torque converter can also lead to the transmission shifting funny. You will need to have it inspected and repaired to avoid other potential problems. 


There are many experts that say that there are many tiptronic transmission problems that are similar to the automatic transmission problems. This is because the tiptronic transmission is also built like the automatic transmission and it needs the same heavy components which increases the curb weight of the vehicle and decreases its performance.


Some of the common automatic transmission problems that could also become tiptronic transmission problems include: 


  • Strange noises. 


Strange noises like humming, clunking, or whining heard under your vehicle can be an indication that you have a problem with your transmission. It can be caused by an automatic transmission fluid breaking down. You probably already know how fluids help the moving parts of the cars like its mechanical gears and other components stay lubricated. Over time, the protective properties of the fluid can lose and it won’t be able to prevent the friction anymore and it can damage the transmission system. 


If you start to hear these strange noises coming from your vehicle, you have to have it checked by a mechanic as soon as possible to correct the problem before it becomes too severe. To prevent this from happening, you need to follow the manufacturer’s recommended fluid change intervals. 

  • Hesitation.


Hesitation can occur when there is a delay between when a gear is selected and when the car starts to move. This is usually caused by either insufficient fluid pressure or by slipping clutch packs. A defective pressure pump can also cause this problem.

  • Transmission overheating. 


Transmission overheats when the fluid level is too high or too low but it can also happen when you tow something with a weight more than the transmission’s rated capacity.


Tiptronic Transmission Problems: What are the advantages of a tiptronic transmission?


Although there are some reported tiptronic transmission problems, the tiptronic transmission offers a lot of advantages and benefits. 


Advantages of a tiptronic transmission include: 


  • You get to experience the benefits of the two transmissions –  the manual and the automatic transmissions. You will be able to switch to manual mode if you need or want more control of your vehicle like when you are driving up or down a hill. You can opt to manually change your gear to make sure that you will have a safer and a smoother ride. 


  • If you are driving on an asphalt road, it will be advantageous to use the automatic transmission and just turn on the engine and drive. You will get to choose what you need and what better suits the driving condition you are in. 


  • Automatic transmission with the tiptronic mode on can easily make driving easier when you have to overtake a car. Manual transmission can overtake easily but the automatic transmission can make overtaking difficult since you can’t really move instantly into the top gear. Now with the tiptronic transmission, you can take advantage of its special kick-down option that makes sure that there will be a sharp increase of the engine RPM. 


  • Tiptronic transmission can perform engine braking which is something that the standard automatic transmissions can’t do. 


  • Many drivers are commending and loving the feel that the tiptronic transmission offers. Some of the tiptronic transmissions have a similar layout to many sports cars with its paddles mounted behind the steering wheel. 


  • The tiptronic transmission can get rid of wheel slippage when the driver starts to move from the 2nd gear when driving  on icy roads or when driving in winter. 


  • Another advantage of the tiptronic transmission despite having some tiptronic transmission problems is that they make driving on off-roads easier. You can switch to manual mode when off-road driving, making it easier to maneuver and drive around any obstacles on the road. 


  • Safety measures installed in the tiptronic transmission make it capable of protecting your engine and transmission when you accidentally turn the tiptronic mode on or when you shift the wrong gear. 


  • The tiptronic transmission is known to be more fuel efficient compared to the standard automatic transmissions. However, manual transmissions are still the most fuel efficient among all transmission types. 


  • When you are driving in manual mode and the system detects that you are no longer using the manual shifting for a while, the tiptronic software will switch back to the automatic mode. When this happens, the tiptronic software will start to control the gears again.  


Disadvantages of a tiptronic transmission. 


  • The tiptronic transmission has taken some flaws from the automatic transmissions. One of which is its performance. The tiptronic transmissions have heavier components as the automatic transmissions. This makes it heavier and bulkier than the manuals.  This can take a toll on its performance when compared against the fully manual transmissions. 


  • Another disadvantage is that its torque converter is not that responsive as the clutch equipped on the manual transmissions.  The gear shifting can delay from 0.1 up to 0.7 seconds. But modern vehicles with the updated version of the tiptronic transmissions have this disadvantage almost removed since the shifting process can be done with a reduced delay. 

The tiptronic transmission is a great technology that allows you to enjoy an automatic transmission and at the same time, enjoy the manual gear shifting of a manual one. It is a perfect balance between the two equally great transmissions. Although there might be some reported tiptronic transmission problems, the problems outweigh the disadvantages. 


If you are looking or planning to buy a used vehicle with a tiptronic transmission, make sure that you do your research and inspect the vehicle. Check the vehicle history to avoid purchasing one with tiptronic transmission problems. 


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