Ten Most Common Transmission Problems (and How to Fix them)
Transmission and engine are two of the most critical and costly components in your car. But while lots of people know what to look for to diagnose your engine with a problem, the transmission doesn’t always get the same amount of attention.
In this guide, we’ll break down the ten most common transmission problems before walking you through how to troubleshoot and fix some of the simple ones.
Leakage, worn out clutches and old transmission fluid are the most frequent transmission issues. It is also common to have faulty parts in the transmission, like bad shift solenoids and bad transmission bands.
Below is a list that explains the main transmission problems.
- Ten Most Common Transmission Issues
- Basic Troubleshooting for Transmissions
Ten Most Common Transmission Issues
1. Seals for leakage
Oil is used to fill your transmission, just as your engine. Gaskets and seals hold the transmission fluid inside. As your transmission age, these gaskets may wear down. If this happens you’ll get a leak, and you’ll need to make repairs.
Reported: Transmission Fluid Leakage Causes
2. You can wear this clutch
If you drive a vehicle with a manual transmission, one of the most common problems you’re going to encounter is a worn-out clutch. Replacing a clutch isn’t easy or cheap, but it’s necessary to keep things running the way they should.
3. Old Transmission Fluid/Filter
While you don’t need to change your transmission fluid as often as your engine oil, it still doesn’t last forever. Check out your vehicle’s owner’s manual to see how often you should be changing your transmission fluid.
4. Broken Sensor
Sensors are everywhere in modern cars, including the transmission. Common problem with older vehicles is the wear and tear of these sensors. When this happens, you’ll need to replace them.
5. Slipping Gears
Any transmission type, automatic or manual, can slip as it ages. This is more apparent in manual transmissions, but it can happen in automatic ones.
6. Worn Torque Converter
You will need a torque converter if you have an automatic transmission. While a torque converter has a pretty decent service life, it’s not unheard of for them to wear out. If this happens, you’ll hear grinding noises as your transmission shifts gears, and your transmission will need a rebuild.
7. Faulty shift solenoids
Solenoids usually last longer than sensors, but if your transmission gets old enough or if you’re just unlucky, you might find that your transmission has a faulty solenoid. Solenoid repairs are more costly than those of sensors so you might have to pay a bit more.
RELATED: 7 Signs That Your Transmission Shift Solenoid is Bad
8. Overheating Transmission
An overheating transmission can be a sign that there is something more serious, but it may not be what you are looking for. Your transmission could overheat for many reasons. From jammed gears to old transmission fluid, you’ll need to thoroughly troubleshoot your transmission to find out what’s going on.
9. Broken Transmission Bands
Different gears are held together by transmission bands to achieve the right output ratio. But when these bands start to break, you’ll find that your transmission simply doesn’t have gears that it should.
This is a problem with automatic transmissions, so what you’ll notice is a transmission that gets stuck in higher or lower RPMs and won’t accelerate like it’s supposed to.
10. Hard Shifting
There are many reasons rough shifting can occur. Jammed gears and worn bands could all be the cause of rough shifting. To find out, you must take apart the transmission and rebuild it.
Basic Troubleshooting for Transmissions
While there are plenty of issues that can lead to a faulty transmission, if you know what you’re looking for, you can catch problems early and save yourself a ton of money.
That’s why we took the time to help you troubleshoot three of the common problems here. That way, you can fix problems when they’re small.
One of the easiest jobs is to locate a leak. Look for the highest point of a leak, gravity pulls fluid down, so once you’ve found the top you’ve located the leak. If it’s coming from the bottom, it’s likely the transmission pan, but it’s likely a front main if it’s coming from the front.
Once you have identified the leak, it is time to determine how difficult and costly the repair will be.
Sliding Out or Rough Shifting
You can flush your transmission with fluid and then add some slip-stop additive to improve the gearshifting.
While this won’t always work, if you catch the problem early enough, it might be just what you need to get another 40,000 to 50,000 miles out of your transmission before you need a rebuild.
Unable To Get Into Gear
When your transmission can’t get into or out of a specific gear, it can be a litany of problems. To check if your TCM is generating codes, hook up an OBD II reader. Your problem could be as simple as a defective sensor or solenoid.
However, if you don’t have any TCM codes, there is likely something seriously wrong inside your transmission. You could have jammed or snapped gears. Either way, you’ll need a rebuild. Transmission rebuilds aren’t cheap, so you might want to start saving up now.
Your transmission is one of the most important components. That’s why you need to have a thorough understanding of how it works and keep an eye out for when things aren’t running the way they’re supposed to.
Because while transmission repairs can be expensive, you can often catch the problems early on if you know what you’re looking for. This guide should have provided you with all the information you needed to troubleshoot your transmission and make sure it runs as well as possible.
That way, the next time you hit the open road, you can rest easy knowing that your vehicle is going to run just like it’s supposed to.
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