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10 Signs That Your Transmission Is Going Out: Facts & FAQs

man driving a manual transmission car

Of all your vehicle’s mechanical components, your transmission undergoes the most wear and tear. Because of how much wear and tear your transmission goes through, it will eventually go out. It’s important to know the signs of a faulty transmission so that you can continue driving your car conveniently and safely.

Unfortunately, most vehicle owners do not know the signs that their transmission is in trouble. Below, learn 10 signs that your transmission is going bad. These signs can help you to determine when you need to see a mechanic. Let’s get started.

car and road divider

The 10 Signs That Your Transmission Is Going Out

1. Difficulty Switching Gears

Automatic Transmission
Image Credit: AutoPhotography, Pixabay

The most obvious sign that something is wrong with your transmission is if you are having difficulty switching gears. The whole purpose of the transmission is to switch gears while you are driving. Having low or incorrect transmission fluid could cause your vehicle to refuse to switch gears.

2. Slipping Gears

Slipping gears is another sign that your transmission is going out. If you’ve ever been in this scenario, you know it is incredibly scary and dangerous. If you know that your transmission is slipping or your gears are slipping, never drive your vehicle. Instead, get your vehicle to a mechanic ASAP.

If you are a new vehicle owner, you might not know what slipping gears feels like. It generally feels like you are driving over ice, even when there’s no issue with the road. Another sign that your gears are slipping is if you hear your engine revving whenever the gears change.

Delay and acceleration, harsh responses, and strange noises can also be signs of slipping gears.

3. Dragging Clutch

Manual Transmission
Image Credit: Globetrotter78, Pixabay

Whenever your clutch is dragging, it fails to disengage the clutch disc from your vehicle’s fly wall every time you punch the clutch pedal. This issue can cause your gears to clash. Most often, dragging clutches are caused by mechanical failures or incorrect placement of the clutch.

4. Burning Smell

Anytime you smell something burning from your vehicle, see a mechanic right away. The burning smell can be caused by your transmission overheating. It can also happen whenever your transmission fluid becomes old and burned.

5. Noisy in Neutral

Manual Transmission
Image Credit: real-napster, Pixabay

If you put your vehicle in neutral and hear weird noises, your transmission is almost guaranteed to be going out. Occasionally, noises while in neutral may just mean you need new transmission fluid.

6. Weird Sounds

Weird sounds as a whole can tell you that there’s something wrong with your transmission. Anytime you hear humming, clunking, or whining, it may be time to see a professional.

7. Grinding or Shaking

parts of automotive manual transmission
Image Credit: ARTPROXIMO, Shutterstock

One common sign of a failing automatic transmission is grinding or shaking whenever the gears change. This is almost always a sign that the automatic transmission has a problem. Taking the vehicle to a professional as soon as possible can help rectify the issue.

8. Leaking Fluid

If you have an automatic and you notice transmission fluid leaking, you know you have a transmission problem. Transmission fluid has a red color and a sweet smell. The fluid would leak directly under your car.

9. Check Engine Light

CVT transmission bottom view
Image Credit: nikkytok, Shutterstock

The check engine light can be super helpful. If your check engine light is on, it’s a great idea to have a technician check out the source of the problem to make sure your transmission is still in good order.

10. Unresponsive Vehicle

If your car simply fails to respond whenever you change gears, there’s probably an issue with your transmission. This especially happens if you try to change the gears from park to drive.

car and road divider

What Should I Do if I Have Transmission Problems?

If you have any transmission problems or signs of transmission problems, visit a professional mechanic right away. Your transmission is one of the most important parts of your vehicle. If it is not acting the way it should, it could put you and other drivers in danger.

Continuously Variable Transmission
Image Credit: Kartinkin77, Shutterstock

How Do I Care for a Transmission?

Fixing or replacing a transmission is expensive. That’s why it’s a great idea to care for your automatic transmission. Caring for it properly will mean you don’t have to spend as much money on repairs and replacements. Here are some tips for how to care for transmission:

  • Keep your eye on transmission fluid
  • Select the right transmission fluid
  • Care for the cooling system
  • Shift gears carefully
  • Schedule routine maintenance
  • Brake wisely

car and road divider Conclusion

If your vehicle is making any of the signs or symptoms above, your transmission may be going out. Hopefully, it’s just the transmission fluid to blame, and you don’t have to replace the transmission entirely. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

Take your vehicle to a mechanic right away if your vehicle has any of the symptoms or signs above. Driving with a faulty transmission can be very dangerous. In the meantime, care for your transmission properly to help minimize any wear and tear.

Featured Image Credit: Ground Picture, Shutterstock


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