Signs a Transmission is Failing

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Transmissions contain many mechanical components. When one component fails, other components within the unit may sustain damage. Drivers must be aware of this and know what signs to look for that suggest the transmission is failing. The following signs are ones every driver should look for when behind the wheel of their car. 

An Unresponsive Transmission

A driver may notice their vehicle doesn’t seem to engage in certain gears. In fact, the car may not move. It may stutter or stumble as it shifts gears, and the car might actually feel as if it passes before it engages. 

This is dangerous because the driver might attempt to pull in front of another car and be unable to do so thanks to this pause. An accident could occur because of this hesitation. 

An unresponsive transmission could be the result of mechanical damage within the unit or a hydraulic issue. It’s best to have the vehicle towed to Affordable Trans LLC to learn what the problem is and have it fixed. 

Fluid Issues

An automatic transmission is a closed system. Fluid should never leak from this unit, and a transmission shouldn’t burn fluid like engines burn oil. Any bright red or dark brown fluid on the asphalt needs to be investigated right away, particularly when it is under the center of the vehicle. 

When the vehicle makes it to the mechanic, they look for several things in the transmission fluid. If the level is low, there is a leak somewhere in the system. Burnt fluid is a sign of a torque converter issue or another problem within the transmission. The same holds when the fluid contains dirt, metal shavings, grease, or water. 

The mechanic will examine the unit to diagnose the problem and make a recommendation for repairs. The solution could be something as simple as a routine maintenance service or there could be extensive internal damage. The mechanic would then need to determine if the transmission can be fixed or a new unit is needed. 

Dash Warning LightSigns a Transmission is Failing

Some vehicles today have a special warning light that alerts the driver to problems with the transmission. However, many vehicles activate the check engine light when the transmission fails in some way. 

Regardless of which dash warning light activates, the vehicle needs to go to a mechanic right away. Modern cars come with sophisticated warning systems. When one of these systems sends an alert, taking the vehicle to a mechanic will help keep the cost of repairs down. 

Slow Acceleration

People often assume something is wrong with the engine when the vehicle is slow to accelerate. They might blame it on the fuel system too. However, don’t overlook the transmission when attempting to diagnose the problem, as it may be the culprit. 

New Noises or Smells

A grinding, rattling, or clunking sound coming from any part of the vehicle requires a trip to the mechanic immediately. If the car starts making a whining or whirring sound, the transmission could be failing. The same holds when the vehicle makes a humming or buzzing sound.

These noises may come and go initially. Over time, they will probably increase in frequency. Each time the sound is heard, the transmission may sustain more damage, so never delay this trip to have the vehicle checked. 

A bumping noise when the transmission is in neutral is cause for concern. The transmission fluid might be low or in need of replacement. Test the fluid level using the provided dipstick.

In addition to checking the level of this fluid, examine its color. Transmission fluid should be bright red and have a sweet smell. If the fluid is dark brown and smells burnt, there is a problem within the transmission. A worn idler gear or bearings could lead to the transmission making noises in neutral. 

The same holds when you notice an unusual smell coming from the vehicle. A burning smell often suggests there is something wrong with the transmission. This smell often comes from the gears grinding together. They do so when there is no transmission fluid present or the system has internal damage that is allowing parts to rub when they shouldn’t. 

Gears that Slip

Immediately take the vehicle to a mechanic if gears begin slipping. The vehicle should never drop to a lower gear when the car is moving. If it does, the problem needs to be corrected right away. 

Gears Shifting Unevenly

When an automatic transmission shifts gears, the driver should not feel this transition. The sensors are made to handle this transfer of power seamlessly. A shimmy or shake as the gear changes indicates there is a problem within the transmission. Take the vehicle to a mechanic to address this problem right away before more damage is done to the unit. 

New Feeling

When something feels different with the vehicle, even if it is hard to pinpoint the source, take the vehicle to a mechanic to be inspected. This includes any jerking or shaking. They may indicate something is wrong with the vehicle or it might simply be the road surface causing a change in the way the vehicle drives. The mechanic will be able to determine if there is a problem that the driver should be concerned about.

Clutch Issues

Individuals who drive a vehicle with a manual transmission will find it easier to determine if they have a transmission problem. They feel a difference in the way the clutch reacts. The clutch pedal might feel extremely stiff or incredibly loose. The driver might also find they are unable to shift normally because of the clutch issue. This may indicate a problem with the clutch itself or it might be the transmission. 

Take the vehicle to a mechanic anytime something feels new or different. It might be nothing. However, by taking the vehicle in, the driver can know this and have peace of mind when this is the case. If there is something wrong, having the problem fixed early typically helps to keep costs down while ensuring the vehicle is safe to drive. Make an appointment with a mechanic today if the vehicle is acting up. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.