10 Signs Of A Failing Transmission


Your vehicle’s transmission is an integral part of the machine, it’s the component that drives the power from the engine to the wheels, which makes understanding the telltale signs of a bad transmission vitally important. Here are the top 10 signs of a transmission failure along with information regarding how to handle the issues.

10 Signs of Transmission Failure


1. Burning Smell

There’s no other way to put it – the smell of burning is bad news. When the scent is related to the transmission, it likely means either the fluid is burning, which is typically accompanied by a leak. If no leakage is evident, the transmission fuel could be overheating due to the build-up of clutch debris, a breakdown of metallic components combined with the build-up of sludge. Overheating or burnt fluid is bad news. The transmission cannot function properly and the vehicle should not be driven.


2. A Low Level of Fluid

In order for your vehicle’s transmission to function properly, its fluid must be at an appropriate level. This fluid is responsible for a number of functions including the lubrication of components in the transmission which decreases friction and helps combat overheating. This fluid can leak but is easy to identify. Bright red fluid underneath your vehicle can indicate a leak – it is recommended that you take it in for service immediately. Also of note – dark brown or black fluid below your vehicle could be a sign that the fluid is burnt and could indicate internal failure. A transmission pan gasket could be your way out of this.


3. Check Engine Light

Your vehicle’s check engine light can also act as an indicator of transmission problems. The onboard computer system has the ability to monitor the vehicle’s performance and detect issues the motorist may not notice. The check engine light can be triggered by transmission issues. It is recommended that you bring your vehicle in for service should this indicator turn on. An accurate diagnosis could catch a minor repair before it turns into a major repair, and cost the driver a lot of cash.


4. Abnormal Appearance of the Transmission Fluid

When it comes to transmission fluid the rule of thumb is transparency is key. Transparent fluid is an indicator of a healthy transmission while a charred appearance means its time for a flush. Noticing milky fluid? This could suggest a coolant leak.


5. Odd Noises

Vehicle noises – especially new ones – are always panic-inducing. Does it resemble a hum, buzz, whine, or clunk? Either way, it could be a sign of transmission trouble and you should get your vehicle serviced. It is also important to learn the unique noises associated with automatic and manual transmissions. Typically automatic transmissions that are failing will produce a hum, buzz, or whine; while a manual transmission will produce harsher noises like clunking. Taking the appropriate precautions while it comes to your transmission’s health can save drivers significant money in the long run.


6. Sluggish Performance

While some motorists will blame their vehicle’s lethargic performance on engine troubles, a poorly performing vehicle could also be a sign of a failing transmission. Does your vehicle hesitate or feel sluggish when accelerating? Could be a transmission issue.


7. Grinding and Shaking

Grinding and shaking differ between automatic and manual transmission – but both are signs a bad transmission. As the clutch begins to wear on a manual transmission, gear grinding will increase. When an automatic transmission begins to go, you’ll likely notice hesitation during gear shifts. These problems will only worsen over usage, so it is recommended you take your vehicle in for service as soon as possible.


8. Hard to Put the Transmission in Gear

This should be a smooth act that requires little effort. If significant force is required to move the gear shifter, it could mean big trouble for your vehicle. There are many potential reasons for this – from improper fluid to a malfunctioning computer system – but all point to the same destination, the mechanic.


9. Gears Slipping

Another indicator of a failing transmission comes in the form of slipping gears. Automatic transmissions shift based on revolutions – higher than usual revving between gear shifts could suggest a slipping transmission. When it comes to a manual transmission, defective gearboxes can suddenly pop out of gear. This will not only jeopardize the driver’s safety but the safety of those sharing the roadway. Take transmission slipping signs seriously and seek service immediately.


10. Vehicle Surging

If your vehicle suddenly lunges forward you could very well be dealing with contaminated transmission fluid. This dirty fluid should be flushed while a new filter would also be a good idea.

Need Help?

Don’t let a poor transmission disrupt your travel plans or your safety. We suggest contacting a professional mechanic to receive a proper diagnosis to help repair your transmission. For over 20 years, we have been working hard to service your transmission repairs and other auto mechanic issues throughout the GTA. Contact one of our leading experts to see how we can help whether it’s a transmission issue or other maintenance repairs at (905) 669-0980 today!

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