10 Most Common Transmission Problems
A vehicle’s transmission is what transfers the power from the engine to the drive wheels. If the transmission and its components (including sensors and computers) are not working, you won’t be going anywhere.Vehicles have either automatic transmissions or manual transmissions. Manual transmissions usually are sealed units, so you don’t have to check or add transmission fluid directly to the transmission, though it should be changed as recommended by the manufacturer. However, you do need to check and change the fluid on an automatic transmission. Additionally, you could experience any number of other transmission problems.
Like many other vehicle parts that hold liquids, the transmission could leak. Lose enough fluid, and the transmission will not work. The transmission needs transmission fluid to keep it lubricated and work properly. If you have ever noticed that your vehicle moves just fine in drive but won’t reverse, that usually is a sign that the fluid is low. You’ll need to have the transmission leak fixed. It could be the pan gasket or the front pump that is leaking. For a temporary fix, add No Leak® Transmission Stop Leak.
If your vehicle’s transmission seems to be unresponsive, you could have worn clutches. The clutch consists of friction plates and steel plates. The plates eventually wear down, so the proper pressure cannot be placed on the planetary gears, which determine which gear you are in. If the transmission fluid level is correct and the transmission is slipping, you most likely need to replace the clutch kit. When a transmission slips, the engine revs up, but the vehicle doesn’t move in accordance with it.
If the transmission whines or clunks, have it looked at sooner rather than later. The problem could be in the torque converter or the “hard parts,” or planetary gears. Torque converters can be replaced, but if the hard parts are damaged, it’s time for a new transmission.
Shaking and Grinding
This is something that happens with manual transmissions, and it’s usually a problem with the gears. This includes grinding when you put the vehicle into gear. In most cases, the manual transmission clutch needs to be replaced.
The Car Won’t Go Into Gear
If this happens, check the transmission fluid. Make sure the level is correct. If it is, the problem may be that the fluid needs to be changed because it is too thin or because the shift cable or clutch linkage needs to be adjusted. A computer could also cause this problem if the computer is bad or if a sensor is not working properly. In some cases, the “service engine soon” light may be on. You’ll have to take the vehicle in so the auto technician can read the codes to determine what the problem is.
Slipping and Popping Into and Out of Gear
If the transmission is slipping but it has the correct amount of fluid, or if the transmission is going in and out of gear, the link that holds the gears may be broken or worn out. This needs to be repaired as soon as possible, as it could pose a safety risk while you are driving.
If the clutch disk does not disengage from the flywheel when you press the clutch pedal, there is usually too much slack in the clutch pedal. This causes the linkage to not pull the clutch disk away from the flywheel. If this happens, the clutch is still spinning and you won’t be able to change gears. This is one of the least expensive repairs that you can get on a transmission.
If you smell something burning, you need to get your vehicle checked immediately. The burning could come from anything including oil leaking onto the exhaust manifold, wire insulation burning on the manifold, or because the transmission is running hot. If the transmission is running hot, the fluid level could be low or you used the wrong type of transmission fluid. Have your transmission checked immediately, before more damage is done.
Loose Clutch Pedal
If you press the clutch pedal and nothing happens or the clutch pedal feels really loose, this could be a problem with the slave cylinder. Manual clutches use a master cylinder, which is where you add transmission fluid. If a master cylinder leaks and you don’t catch it, you could damage the slave cylinder or the transmission itself. The slave cylinder disengages the clutch when you press the clutch pedal in. The pressure that it uses comes from the master cylinder. A failing slave cylinder could also show up as problems shifting the vehicle into and out of gear.
Automatic Transmission Shudders and Problems Shifting
This problem may be due to a failing torque converter. Sometimes you will hear it “rattling.” Sometimes you may not be able to get out of first gear. A torque converter problem could also cause the transmission to shift funny. If you have a problem with the torque converter, it will need to be replaced.
How to Prevent Transmission Problems
Like any moving parts, the transmission’s parts eventually will wear out. By performing proper maintenance on the transmission, you can make it last longer. Make sure you have a transmission flush done at the intervals that are recommended by the manufacturer. You can either have a shop or dealership flush the transmission, or you can flush it yourself. Make sure you also use the proper transmission fluid for your vehicle when you perform a transmission fluid change.
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