5 Common Signs of Transmission Failure


No matter what type of vehicle you own, your car’s transmission system is one of its most complex components. Unfortunately, this means that it can also be one of the most expensive systems to repair. Catching transmission issues early is the best way to stop damage in its tracks and save hundreds of dollars in the process. With that in mind, here are 5 signs to look for if you suspect transmission failure:

1. Fluid leaks.

One of the easiest ways to identify an issue with your transmission system is to look for fluid leaks. If you notice a red, tart- or sweet-smelling fluid in your driveway, this can be a sure sign that your car needs professional attention. Changes to your transmission fluid levels can be another strong indicator that something may be wrong. Unlike motor fluid, transmission fluid is not burned while running a vehicle. If you notice that your fluid is running low, this typically means you have a leak.
Transmission leaks can be caused by a number of factors including:
Damaged bell housings.
Services such as transmission flushes or radiator replacements that require disconnection of the cooler lines.
Gaskets or seals that have become worn or damaged.
A poorly balanced drive shaft.
Battered axles or transmission mounts.
Loose transmission pans.
You can help detect and avoid many transmission issues by monitoring regularly checking transmission fluids.

2. Shift delays.

If you notice a delay when shifting gears, this may be a sign of transmission failure. Each time you shift the clutch, your transmission should go into the right gear without any hesitation. If your vehicle has a manual transmission, you may notice a slight delay as you shift gears. This is often indicative of a worn clutch or other transmission-related problem. With an automatic transmission, your transmission may notice a pause when switching from park to reverse. If you experience any of these issues, it is important to have your car examined by a professional as soon as possible.

3. Warning lights.

Most vehicles have built-in sensors that are designed to detect irregularities and trigger your car’s computerized warning system. When this happens, a warning light appears to notify you of an issue with a particular part of your vehicle. In many cases, these sensors are able to detect developing problems before you ever notice them. For transmission issues, the transmission temperature warning sign is often of the first indicators that your transmission is failing. When you see this light, it means that something is causing your transmission fluid to get hotter than normal. Any time this light appears, it means that you need to have your transmission inspected by a professional immediately. Our expert maintenance and repair technicians can check your coolant and transmission fluid levels to help identify the source of the issue.

4. The dipstick test.

One of the simplest ways to prolong the life of your transmission is to check your transmission fluid frequently. For vehicles with rear-wheel drive, your dipstick should be located near the back of your in-line engine. If your vehicle has front-wheel drive, you can find your dipstick protruding from the transaxle. If you have trouble locating the dipstick, bring it in for an inspection where one of our professionals can check the fluid levels for you. If you check it yourself and notice transmission fluid that is brown or smells like burnt toast, that is a sure sign that it needs to be changed.

5. Weird noises.

When listening for odd car noises, it is important to know what type of transmission system you have. This is because manual and automatic transmission systems act differently when they are failing. Knowing what to look for is key to detecting the problem and avoiding further damage. If your transmission is manual, you may notice a grinding noise when you change gears. Anytime you hear a grinding noise after a shift, this is likely a sign of a worn clutch or damaged gear synchronizers. if your vehicle has an automatic transmission, listen out for humming, buzzing or whining sounds. You may also notice that your shifts between gears aren’t as smooth as they usually are.
When it comes to transmission issues, early detection is key. If you experience any of these 5 problems, bringing it in for a checkup right away can save you both time and money.