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10 Signs of a Failing Transmission

10 Signs of a Failing Transmission

When it comes to prolonging the life of your vehicle's transmission, the best approach is to keep it serviced on a regular basis.


A well-maintained transmission can actually outlast the car itself. For good reason, most transmission problems require immediate attention.

Here are 10 signs of a failing transmission.


1. Burning Smell

A burning smell should always raise a red flag. You never want the transmission fluid to start burning. After the protective additives have deteriorated, the internal parts of your transmission are far more likely to become damaged. There may also be a serious buildup of sludge inside of the gearbox. Do not even attempt to drive your vehicle until this issue is fixed.

2. A Low Level of Fluid

If you happen to notice a reddish fluid in your driveway, be sure to check your transmission fluid level. Unlike when checking the motor oil level, the transmission fluid level needs to be checked while the engine is still running. A low level of transmission fluid indicates you have a leak. A simple part, such as your transmission pan gasket, may need to be replaced.

3. Check Engine Light

Your vehicle's onboard computer constantly monitors the performance of the transmission. The various sensors are able to recognize issues some drivers may not notice. In the event the computer detects transmission problems, it may trigger the check engine light. With the use of advanced diagnostic equipment, our technicians can quickly identify the trouble code. Simply ignoring the check engine light could prove to be an expensive mistake.

4. Abnormal Appearance of the Transmission Fluid

Healthy transmission fluid should have a transparent appearance. If your transmission fluid looks extremely charred, this is a sign it needs to be flushed out. The presence of metal flakes in your transmission fluid is another major problem. This means the transmission is experiencing an excessive amount of wear and tear. Meanwhile, milky transmission fluid is caused by a coolant leak.

5. Odd Noises

From a failing transmission pump to a clogged transmission filter, there are several different problems that can cause strange noises to occur. A properly functioning transmission should deliver a whisper-quiet performance. In the event your transmission begins to hum or whine, don't hesitate to bring it in to the shop. Taking the necessary precautions can save you a great deal of money in the long run.

6. Sluggish Performance

Car owners often tend to blame their vehicle's poor performance on an engine problem. However, the transmission could also be the source of your trouble. Like a bad set of spark plugs, a failing transmission can cause your car to hesitate and feel sluggish. Upon pressing the accelerator, your vehicle may not respond as quickly as usual.

7. Grinding and Shaking

After a manual transmission's clutch begins to wear out, there is a good chance the gears will begin to grind together. The problem will only grow worse over time. On the other hand, a malfunctioning automatic transmission is more likely to cause shaking and vibrating. As the transmission attempts to shift gears, your vehicle may tremble aggressively.

8. Hard to Put the Transmission in Gear

Putting your transmission in gear should require very little effort. If it takes a lot of force to move the gear shifter, you are definitely dealing with a big problem. It is only a matter of time before you become stranded in a parking lot. While the issue could stem from a damaged shift cable, you could also be dealing with an electronic issue. A blown fuse can make it impossible to even budge the gear shifter.

9. Gears Slipping

Pay close attention to how well your transmission shifts from one gear to the next. Automatic transmissions are engineered to shift at a certain rpm. In the event your engine begins to rev higher than normal between each gear shift, you are likely experiencing a slipping transmission. Furthermore, defective manual gearboxes are known to suddenly pop out of gear. This can jeopardize your personal safety on the road. During an emergency situation, your transmission must be able to respond immediately.

10. Vehicle Surging

While  travelling on the open highway, your vehicle may suddenly surge forward. Dirty transmission fluid can certainly cause vehicle surging. Not only will your vehicle need to have the contaminated fluid flushed out, but it will also need a new transmission filter.

If your transmission is slipping or experiencing any other problem, be sure to schedule an appointment with our service centre.

Our experienced technicians promise to keep your transmission in tip-top condition.

Need to fix your transmission? Make an appointment today!

Categories: Service & Maintenance Tips