Fears and Gears: Transmission Trouble

Transmission Sights and Sounds to Beware Of

Automatic transmissions rule. The old days of manual transmissions, or shifting your own gears, are a thing of the past for most drivers. But automatic transmission trouble can be a big inconvenience for any driver if it comes at the wrong time and in the wrong place. 

Transmissions are heavy-duty pieces of equipment that are designed to last a long time. But like any other machine, they’ll eventually wear out or can be cause for issues. Here are some signs to look out for that may mean you have a problem that needs to be taken care of as soon as possible.

1. Slipping out of gear

As you’re driving, your vehicle seems to slip in and out of gear without touching anything. It might also feel like the vehicle is slow to respond, or maybe it doesn’t respond at all when hitting the gas pedal. That’s what some call, not surprisingly, a “slipping transmission.”

2. The car goes “clunk”

Another thing you may notice as your vehicle shifts from one gear to the next is a noise like a loud “clunk” or a change in pitch. Transmissions are supposed to be nearly silent when they shift, so that noise is telling you something is wrong.

3. There’s a puddle

After sitting in the garage overnight, if you notice there’s a puddle of some fluid under your vehicle the next morning, your transmission could be leaking fluid. Try to figure out what color it is. If it is red or brown, that’s a sign it could be transmission fluid. Sometimes you may smell the transmission fluid, too; it has what some consider a “sweet” odor.

All Pro Servicenter Pro Tip: If you notice fluid, we recommend placing a piece of cardboard underneath to capture some of the fluid; it keeps your garage floor or driveway clean and can help indicate what’s going on.

4. The warning light pops on

You may have a warning light that goes on when your transmission fluid is low (it could be a special transmission symbol or simply the Check Engine light). That light could also mean the fluid is too hot or has low pressure. 

All Pro Servicenter Pro Tip:  Anytime a light pops on and you just aren’t sure what it’s an indication of, bring it in. It’s much better to be safe than sorry, especially if the warning light can point to more than one problem going on with your vehicle. Better to fix whatever is malfunctioning than to end up with a worse problem.

5.  It just won’t get up and go

If you shift your vehicle into D (for Drive) and it doesn’t move or slowly engages after some delay, you may be seeing the start of a serious problem. This is never anyone’s desired reality, to have this type of gear problem, but these issues can happen.

Of course, you don’t want a malfunctioning transmission to strand you at some inopportune time. So if your vehicle is showing any of these signs, arrange a time for a technician to check it out.

How to Maintain Your Transmission

In order to maintain your transmission and to stay away from trouble, keep an eye on the transmission fluid. It plays a key role in your vehicle running smoothly and safely.

Make sure there is enough transmission fluid: Always make sure your transmission has enough fluid. Transmission fluid cools and lubricates the transmission and also provides the pressure needed to transfer power from the engine to the transmission.

Replace the transmission fluid on schedule: As you can imagine, all those gears grinding on each other result in lots of little bits of metal in the fluid. The more metal there is, the faster the transmission parts will wear out. Transmission fluid also contains detergents and other additives to protect your transmission. These additives are depleted over time, so old fluid doesn’t protect as well as new fluid. Your owner’s manual or service advisor will have a recommendation for when you should have a transmission service.

Neglecting any of these warning signs and/or not maintaining the transmission fluid in your vehicle for too long, and your transmission can fail. Not only are broken transmissions inconvenient and expensive to fix, but they can also be a safety hazard as well. For assistance, call the experts here at All Pro Servicecenter!


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