Transmission Warning Signs

Car Care
Tips

Signs of a Failing Transmission

Your vehicle's transmission is one of the car's most important and complex components. It contains hundreds of sophisticated hydraulics and computer-controlled electronic components working together to change gears within the engine, transferring the engine's power to the wheels with the purpose of propelling your vehicle.

Transmission Warning Signs:

Fluid Leaks

Leaking transmission fluid is probably one of the simplest ways to tell that your car needs attention. A little fluid on your driveway can quickly turn into a very big and costly car problem. Common reasons for a transmission fluid leak are:

  
      
  • Any recent service or part replacement that involves disconnecting cooler lines like a radiator replacement or a transmission flush   
  • Worn seals or gaskets   
  • Damaged bell housings   
  • A loose transmission pan/pan leak   
  • Out of balance drive shaft   
  • Worn axles (FWD), engine and transmission Mounts

A transmission leak can not only cause serious damage to your vehicle as well as the environment. For more information, check out our leaky fluid guide.

Warning Light Activates

Most modern vehicles have electronic sensors that will pick up inconsistencies and trigger your vehicle's computer system to report there is a problem in a specific area. When it comes to your transmission, these sensors will recognize vibrations and early issues that you may not be able to feel or see.

Strange Smells

Generally transmission fluid has a slightly sweet or tart smell. Should you start to notice a faint, burning odor it's time to start thinking about your next fluid change This is a problem that can go from bad to worse very quickly.

Dipstick Inspection

Checking your car's transmission fluid levels with the dipstick is one of the simplest and cheapest ways you can help prolong the life of your transmission. If you have rear-wheel drive, it is located toward the rear of an in-line engine.

To check fluid level insert dipstick, wipe it clean, and examine level marks and then insert it again. The fluid should be between two marks labeled either "full" and "add" or "hot" and "cold". If the level is not full, you will need to top off your transmission fluid. Be careful not to add too much.

Odd Sounds

Manual and automatic transmissions respond differently when they are malfunctioning. It is important to recognize any odd sounds your transmission might be making to avoid further complications.

With an automatic transmission you'll most likely feel the car shimmy into each gear, instead of having unnoticeable shifts. There is also a good chance you will hear a whining, buzzing, or humming sound. If you are experiencing any of these problems we suggest you have your vehicle checked out by a professional.

Delay in Movement

A delay or lack of response from your vehicle may mean you are having transmission issues. Transmissions were designed to go into the correct gear every time. Any hesitation is a sure sign something is wrong. Manual transmissions will act up as you're shifting gears.