Every day as you drive, dozens of parts come together to ensure your car gets you where you’re going. When everything is working, it’s a smooth ride, one you can depend on.
But over time, things change. You notice bumps in the road. You hear squeaks and squeals. You may even see things slowly starting to fail.
Your car doesn’t fall apart overnight. It never fails without warning signs. If you watch and listen carefully, you’ll notice when things start to break.
Are there signs your car needs a new transmission? Can you tell before your car fails?
In most cases, the answer is yes. Your car gives off warning signs, and the sooner you bring it into a qualified transmission specialist, the higher your chance of catching it early and lowering the overall costs of the repair.
The key is in not ignoring the warning signs. They are there for a reason. Catch it early, and you might only have a small repair. Wait, and the costs can build as time goes by.
Warning signs your car needs a new transmission include:
Problems shifting gears
It doesn’t matter if your car is manual or automatic, it still shifts into several gears as it takes you from resting up to speed, and back down again. Every time it shifts, it should be a smooth transition. When you start noticing changes, a roughness in the process, that’s a sign your transmission might be in need of repair.
Pay attention to the process. Do you notice:
- Hesitation as you try and put the car into gear
- Jerking action as the car shifts between gears
- A sudden shift in gears for no reason
- Trouble with reverse
- Falling out of gear while you’re driving
All of these can be signs your car needs a new transmission. It’s time to bring your vehicle in for servicing right away.
Grinding between gears
With a manual transmission, you can feel when there’s a problem with the gears. As you press down on the clutch, and try to shift from one gear to the next, you hear a grinding sound. The process is anything but smooth. It’s difficult to move from gear to gear.
But it’s not just manual transmissions that have problems. Instead of a grinding noise, automatic transmissions may start to shake or shimmy between shifts as it starts to fail.
It may be the clutch failing. It might be a simple repair. But the longer you ignore it, the more it persists, the more problems you’ll face when you do bring it in for repair.
Have you ever stood next to a vehicle that has a whining, buzzing, or clicking sound while standing in neutral? That can be a sign of transmission failure.
As parts fail, they impact the transmission in different ways. Transmissions are made up of lots of parts: pumps, clutches, bands, sensors, valves, even transmission fluid to keep everything running smoothly. Every part has a purpose. And if one part starts to fail, it can cause a host of other problems.
That’s when noises start to occur. Let’s say your transmission fluid is low. That can cause a ripple effect throughout the vehicle, making bands weaken, clutches tighten up, gears not able to work properly. If you correct the problem quickly, you stop the action from deteriorating the parts any further. The longer you wait, the more damage occurs. When you hear a new noise and it persists, it’s time to quickly find out the root cause.
Cloudy transmission fluid
When transmission fluid is brand new, it has a bright red color and a distinctive sweet smell. If you’ve never seen it before, ask your mechanic about it the next time you visit. Over time, transmission fluid goes through a lot as it keeps the action in your transmission operating as it should.
When you start to see changes in looks, it could be the transmission fluid. If you look at it and it appears dark, or has a milky, cloudy look, it’s a sign the transmission fluid can no longer do what it’s supposed to do.
Not only does transmission fluid change color over time, but it also creates a distinctive smell. When the gears overheat because of excessive friction, it starts to produce a burning smell. You’ll notice it when you turn your car off and open the door. If the transmission has reached this point, it’s time to bring it in for repair, and it’s probably time for a new transmission.
Leaking transmission fluid
As your transmission continues to fail, it starts to develop leaks. Whether you park it regularly in a garage, your driveway, or in a parking spot at work, pay attention to what’s left behind when you drive away. Do you see the red fluid leaving spots? It doesn’t matter if it looks red and clean, or has already taken on a cloudy appearance, a leak isn’t something you should tolerate. Instead, a leak is a sign of a very big problem.
It doesn’t mean your transmission is going bad, but there is a problem with the flow of transmission fluid. The quicker you get it in, the faster you repair the problem, the greater chance you have of saving your transmission.
That can mean the difference between a small repair and adding new transmission fluid, or a costly investment in a new transmission.
Have questions about your transmission? Is your car showing warning signs it might be in need of repair? Schedule an appointment today, and we’ll get to the root cause, and get you on your way.