Tech Time: Transmission Symptoms

Its road trip season, and if you are about to head off on a cross-country trip, you should make sure your vehicle is road ready. Transmissions are incredibly complex, but figuring out whether or not yours having issues isn’t. Our friends over at Advanced Transmission Center have a great rundown of 10 Symptoms of Bad Transmission to help you understand that you might have a problem. Here are the top three!

1. Lack of Response

Hesitation, or outright refusal, to shift into the proper gear is a telltale sign of transmission trouble. The inability to shift can be electric, hydraulic or mechanical. At times, this may feel like a delay when shifting from drive to park before the gear properly engages, especially for vehicles with automatic transmissions. For vehicles with manual transmissions, the lack of response often takes the form of disconnect between the revving of the engine’s RPMs and actual vehicle speed. In this case, the expected acceleration of the vehicle is seemingly much lower than the sound of the engine would imply. Some describe this a transmission “slipping.”

2. Odd Sounds

Vehicle noises differ, depending on vehicle make and model. When determining if you should pay close attention to a specific sound, consider two questions:

Is this a sound you have never heard before? If the noise is extremely out-of-the-ordinary, you should get your vehicle looked at by your local transmission shop and a team of certified transmission specialists.

Does the sound resemble humming, buzzing, whining, or clunking? These are most commonly used to describe transmission failure noises. With hundreds of parts in a transmission, a single bearing or even a worn case can emit a troubling noise. Unfortunately, these noises are more than just a hindrance. They ultimate lead to transmission failure. It is worth differentiating noises unique to automatic and manual transmission. Often, bad automatic transmissions will emit humming, buzzing, or whining sounds; manual transmissions emit harsher mechanical noises, such as clunking. Some of these noises may relate to the engine, exhaust system, drive shaft, differentials or even a wheel bearing. At this stage, it’s extremely important to diagnosis the sound correctly.

3. Leaking Fluid

Leaking fluid is recognizable and easy to diagnose. Automatic transmission fluid (ATF) gives life to the transmission. ATF lubricates transmission components to decrease friction and prevent overheating. It also functions as a hydraulic fluid allowing gear engagement. If ATF can leak, the transmission will operate with low fluid leading to an increased chance of overheating. This is the quickest way for a transmission to break down. If you see a pool of bright red fluid beneath your vehicle, take it to a transmission shop immediately. Take note: if the leaked fluid is dark brown or black and emits a seared odor, the fluid may be burnt; if this is the case, no minor repair or maintenance procedure can fix the internal failure already present. On the other hand, a transmission pan gasket might be compromised where a transmission power flush and pan/gasket repair can fix the problem for a few hundred bucks rather than a few thousand dollars!

Head on over to Advanced Transmission Center to read more, and enjoy some anti-social distancing on a long road trip this summer!