6 Signs of a Bad Transmission and How To Reduce Wear & Tear

6 Signs of a Bad Transmission That Should Get Repaired

The transmission is one of the most crucial components of your vehicle, and neglecting it can lead to incredibly expensive repairs. While many transmission problems have early warning signs, failing to address those signs promptly can result in a malfunction that grows in severity until it either becomes impossible to ignore or causes a catastrophic failure. Most of the signs that your transmission needs attention are hard to miss, so let’s take a look.


Symptoms of a Bad Transmission

You drive your vehicle regularly, so you’ll surely notice some of the most common signs that your transmission is having issues. Some signs become apparent when driving, and some can be noticed without even turning the vehicle on. Here are the most common signs that you should not ignore.

Gear Slipping or Low Response When Shifting Gears

Your transmission is designed to operate seamlessly with your shifting and driving actions, and noticing any discrepancy in that performance is a solid indicator that your transmission might need a little help. Slipping gears or delayed shifting are a couple of signs that your transmission is having difficulty keeping up with the needs of the vehicle.

A delayed shift is when you hit a normal shift point but, instead of the gear advancing and the RPMs dropping, it hesitates or fails to deliver power to the wheels. Gear slippage is when the transmission seems to change gears when the RPMs are consistent and there is no change in engine load. Both are signs that you may need some additional transmission fluid added.

Leaking Fluid

Transmission fluid is the lubricant and protectant that flows throughout your transmission. It smoothes the shifting action and provides lubrication, cooling, and protection for the gears and gear trains. Occasionally, you may notice a leak of the transmission fluid, often seen as dark red or brown fluid underneath the transmission area of the vehicle’s undercarriage.

In some cases, the cause can be as simple as a loose drain plug or an aging gasket that needs to be replaced but, in either case, it should not be ignored. It could be minor or it could be indicative of a large problem looming.

Burning Smell

Driving your vehicle and noticing a burning smell is often a sign of insufficient transmission fluid. Once the fluid is low enough that it stops cooling the gears and providing friction reduction, the remaining fluid and sometimes even the metal may begin to create a burning smell.

It may also mean that your transmission fluid filter is clogged and is starving the transmission of fluid. Either way, you must make sure there is enough fluid in the system by checking the dipstick. Make sure you get it into a professional if you notice the problem continuing.

Weird Sounds

A lot is going on inside your transmission. There are dozens of moving components, and they all need to be properly functioning, aligned, and lubricated for the transmission to do what it needs to do. Sometimes, when a vehicle is taken in or out of gear, or when changing gears during operation, there will be some strange sounds.This is never a good sign.

Noises that sound, or even feel, like whining, whirring, or grinding can be an indication of excess friction. Usually, this is the result of low transmission fluid, but it can be indicative of other mechanical issues as well. If this is ignored for too long it can lead to an overheated transmission and further mechanical damage.

Heavy clunking noises are often the result of motor or transmission mounts that have loosened or broken entirely. This can lead to a clunk whenever you change gears or take your vehicle in or out of the park.

Shaking or Grinding While Driving

Other symptoms like shaking or grinding can be felt while driving the vehicle. This can happen while the transmission tries to shift or when placing an increased load on the current gear, like going uphill. These are very serious indications of transmission damage and are cause to go to a qualified transmission expert immediately.

Lastly, The Check Engine Light

In some cases, your vehicle may trigger the check engine light. While this can mean a lot of things, a professional can check the OBDII code or other codes that caused the light to come on, which can help with diagnosis.


Tips To Take Care Of Your TransmissionGarage technician looking in toolbox

To make sure your transmission can operate smoothly for as long as possible, here are some basic tips to follow:

Shift Gears Carefully

In most cases, those with automatic transmissions don’t have too much control over their shifting. However, by making sure you aren’t shifting into park before you’re fully stopped, going from neutral into gear while revving the engine, or shifting into reverse from drive while moving, you can avoid significant damage.

Avoid Unnecessary Accelerating

Hard acceleration can cause premature wear and tear on the transmission and fluid. Be sure that you’re accelerating modestly while driving, not coming off the line hard at green lights.

Check Your Transmission Fluid

A regular look at the fluid on the dipstick can provide invaluable insight into the health of your transmission. The transmission fluid should be red and translucent. If the fluid is too dark or you can’t see through it, it’s time for new fluid. If you can’t see fluid, the fluid level is too low.

Preventative Transmission Inspections

One of the cheapest ways to ensure your transmission leads a long and happy life is to get it inspected once every year or two, depending on how much you drive and in what conditions. More difficult driving, like towing frequently or driving in extreme heat more often, means you should inspect it more often.


A Bad Transmission Needs a Quality Inspection and Repair

If you have been experiencing any of the signs or symptoms of transmission problems that we covered here, or just need to schedule your annual inspection, make sure you use a trusted and qualified professional. Reach out to Blaine Brothers today to speak with a transmission expert about your needs!

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