5 Signs Your Transmission Is in Trouble
Transmission repair is one of the most expensive mechanical fixes your car may ever need, but transmission trouble simply can’t be ignored: Your transmission is what allows power from your engine to be sent along the drive-train, making your car move. This means that finding a qualified local car repair shop to take care of your transmission is vital, and auto maintenance costs are almost always less than repairs or a new car. But how do you know when it’s time to bring your car in? The check engine light isn’t the only warning sign to pay attention to. Here are some symptoms indicating that your transmission may need service.
Grinding or Strange Noises Grinding noises may mean that sludge and dirt have contaminated your transmission. If your transmission fluid levels are normal but the problem persists, you may need to have the transmission flushed.
Trouble with Gears If you have problems with slipping gears or your car refuses to go into gear, it’s another sign that dirt or other contaminants are preventing your transmission from working efficiently. If your car has an automatic transmission, pay attention to whether your car is changing gears later than it ought to.
Surging or Stalling An inconsistent flow of clean transmission fluid can cause your car to jump backward and forward for no reason, or to stall for a second after being put into gear. If this is happening, you should take your car in immediately, as a dirty transmission may lead to even bigger car problems if left alone.
A Burning Smell Transmission fluid is intended to cool all the parts of your transmission that are rubbing and working together (some cars also have an oil cooler to move heat away from your transmission). The smell of burning transmission fluid probably indicates that your transmission is overheating. This is a sign that you need more transmission fluid.
Leaking Fluid Remember to check your driveway for any liquids that may be leaking from your car. Automatic transmission fluid is bright red, and if you see even a little, you should head for a mechanic immediately to have the leak repaired.
Recent research shows that 77% of inspected cars were in need of repair or maintenance, and not all problems have clear symptoms. So it’s always a good idea to take your car in for auto repair maintenance frequently and develop a rapport with the mechanics at a local car repair shop to catch issues before they need extensive — and expensive — repairs. A one stop auto shop is sometimes a good choice, as you can have a complete inspection done when you come in for routine oil changes. Automatic transmissions are more mechanically complex than standard (manual) transmissions and therefore more expensive to repair, so that’s one thing to keep in mind when buying a new car. But standard transmissions really aren’t standard any more: Only around 10% of new cars manufactured in North America now have manual transmissions, and there are 10 times as many automatics than manuals in the U.S. used car market.