Top 4 Signs of Transmission Trouble

One of the best ways to avoid transmission failure is to understand the warning signs that trouble is on the way. Regardless of whether or not you are mechanically inclined, you can learn what to look out for.

Here are the top 4 signs that your transmission may be in trouble.

1. Changes in Fluid

It is important to remember that your transmission fluid is not like your oil.  Oil is effectively used up by the engine over time which means that your oil may be low without it signifying a major problem.  This is not the case with your transmission fluid.  If this is low, your car has a leak that needs to be addressed right away in order to protect the transmission from damage.  Automatic transmission fluid should be bright red and can be checked using the transmission fluid dipstick just like you would check the oil.  If you have a manual transmission and/or suspect you have a leak, take it to your repair shop and have it checked out.

2. Unusual Noises

In many cases, your transmission will let you know when there is a problem with a wide range of clunking, grinding, whining, and humming noises.  If your car has a manual transmission, you may hear or even feel the gears grinding when you try to shift.  If you remember back to when you first started driving a stick and heard that awful grinding noise when you got the timing wrong, you know what this sounds like.  The difference here is that you are hearing that noise even though your timing is right. In an automatic, you won’t hear a grinding noise, but you will notice that the car isn’t shifting smoothly from gear to gear.  This may be accompanied by one of the other noises or may be felt more than heard.  Regardless of what sound your car is making, if it makes it when the transmission is shifting between gears, you need to get it looked at today.

3. Inability to Shift

One of the most obvious signs that your transmission is in trouble is that it won’t shift from one gear to another.   Your transmission should work every time, so if it won’t shift from park to reverse or from 1st to 2nd, there is a problem that you need to get fixed.  More subtle problems shifting can also indicate that something is awry.  If your transmission revs up but the car doesn’t go faster or if it has “morning sickness” and won’t shift smoothly for the first few minutes, it’s time to get it looked at.

4. Check Engine Light Comes On

This one is not as easy because in today’s cars, the check engine light can mean so many different things.  Unfortunately, this means we often ignore it if there isn’t some other sign of immediate trouble.  However, ignore the check engine light and you may wind up needing a new transmission.  The sensors used in modern cars monitor, track, and report on how the car is running.  When something isn’t working right, the check engine light comes on.  This can be very important when the problem is with the transmission because these sensors are likely to pick up on problems long before they would become apparent to you. Finding out why the check engine light is on may enable you to get a small issue fixed before it becomes a huge problem.

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