A car’s transmission may be one of the most mysterious parts of an automobile, and we don’t blame you if you have issues diagnosing any of the system’s issues. It’s hard to determine when an unfamiliar noise is harmless… or perhaps a costly issue. There are an assortment of other issues that accompany the transmission, and we’ll help you identify those problems with our guide below.
Before you pursue a costly fix at a transmission repair shop, get a better understanding of the issues you shouldn’t be ignoring. This shouldn’t only help you save money, but it may also save your car from breaking down…
This is one issue that’s rather easy to identify, as you should recognize it the moment you first operate your car. If you’re shifting from park to drive, the system should switch seamlessly whether your transmission is automatic or manual. If there’s a hesitation or (*shudder*) no response at all, this is a clear sign that your car’s transmission is faulty.
If you happen to own a vehicle with a manual transmission, the vehicle may still operate, albeit with decreased ability. You may notice a slight delay in switching gears, but once the gear is officially switched, the RPMs will increase and surge. This means the vehicle will work and the engine will sound capable, but the vehicle can’t travel nearly as quickly as usual. Meanwhile, you may feel the clutch shake a bit when switching gears with an automatic transmission. Over time, this slight shaking may evolve into a more violent swaying, making the vehicle extremely difficult to control.
If your transmission is hesitating, that may mean the clutch needs to be replaced. Depending on what kind of vehicle you’re driving, you may have to dish out anywhere from $100 to over $1000. Furthermore, this transmission issue isn’t limited to the clutch. There could be some far more sinister issue hiding under the surface.
Any Kind of Unfamiliar Sound
Odd noises will accompany any part of your vehicle, so you shouldn’t panic that moment you hear an odd ‘clang’ or ‘thud.’ However, once you’ve driven your vehicle around for some time, you should be more familiar with your ride’s audible nuances. If you’re hearing a noise that is unfamiliar and sounds like it requires further attention, you should consider getting it checked out.
Regardless of your transmission, you’ll likely hear a ‘clunky’ noise whenever you switch gears. If you’re operating a vehicle with a faulty manual transmission, you should anticipate sounds that are generally louder and more sudden that usual. Furthermore, you may hear a “metallic” kind of noise, as if someone threw a penny into your car’s mechanics.
When there’s a transmission issue, you may also notice that your vehicle is letting out a suspicious “grinding noise.” You can attribute this sound to the gears, as the system will let out this odd noise when the transmission is switching. If the grinding sound continues once the gears have been switched, you may be looking at an issue with the clutch.
The transmission may generally be noisy, even when the car is in neutral. This often requires an easy fix in either replacing or adding fluid. If the accompanying “bumping” noise continues, you may be looking at a specific, faulty part. The most common worn out parts include bearings, gear teeth and a reverse idler gear.
Of course, a noise coming from your car doesn’t necessarily mean you’re dealing with a transmission issue. Considering the difficulty determining where the actual noise is coming from, this is an issue that shouldn’t be sat on. The moment you realize that something is wrong, you should be looking to visit your local mechanic as soon as possible.
Leaks are relatively easy to recognize, but it can be hard to determine where the spill is actually coming from. If you notice that the puddle of fluid is red, clear, and has a distinct sweet smell, you’ll know that you’re dealing with a transmission leak. In this case, you’ll want to get this common repair fixed as soon as possible.
As TransmissionRepairCostGuide.com explains, the automatic transmission fluid helps lubricate and clean the entire system, and it also helps condition the seals. When this fluid gets too low, you risk your vehicle seizing up and completely stopping operation. While filling the hole with some leak-stopping substance will certainly provide a temporary fix, this is an issue you’ll want to bring to your mechanic’s attention as soon as possible. In the meantime, patch the hole and top up the fluid until the issue can be resolved.
If your worried your transmission may be running low on fluid, there is a relatively simple way to check. Since transmission fluid isn’t burned off like motor oil, the levels should remain pretty consistent. Give your car a short ride around the block (assuring that your car’s mechanics have been warmed), and then check the dipstick to assure the system is at the appropriate levels. If you have a manual transmission, you’ll have to check the fuel level via the transmission case (which can be found through the fill plug).
Meanwhile, if the fluid is red but isn’t clear, you may need to get your system flushed (or, at the very least, your fluid changed). This fluid naturally gets cloudy over time, so you shouldn’t be alarmed. However, if the clear fluid gets murky relatively quickly, this is a sign of a larger issue.
Check Engine Light
Sure, this one is fairly obvious… okay, it’s REALLY obvious. Still, you wouldn’t believe how many drivers ignore the warning signs coming from their vehicle. While the service light isn’t specific to a transmission issue, it indicates some kind of issue. With various sensors placed around the vehicle’s mechanics, the car will instantly be able to recognize when something isn’t working properly. In regards to the transmission, the sensors may be able to pick up on an issue before the driver is notified via an audible warning.
If this light is flashing, you should schedule an appointment with a mechanic as soon as possible. You could alternatively diagnose the potential issue with a diagnostics scan tool, which will plug into your instrument panel and identify what the main issue is. Regardless, you shouldn’t wait around for the problem to show itself. Be proactive and get your car fixed before you end up costing yourself even more money.
Your transmission should be maintaining it’s gear throughout the entirety of your ride, and you shouldn’t notice any spontaneous slipping. This doesn’t only compromise how your vehicle operates, but it could also put the driver and passenger in significant danger.
Meanwhile, if you’re finding it difficult to switch and change gears, it could be attributed to a dragging clutch. This is a common issue on a manual transmission, as the clutch disk will fail to let go of the flywheel, sending the entire system into a flurry. A dragging clutch may also be accompanied by a grinding noise.
As you can see, there aren’t many issues that you should ignore. Unless you can immediately identify whether a potential issue is harmless or not, it’s in your best interest to get your car checked by a mechanic as soon as possible!