Common Transmission Problems & How To Fix Them

October 7, 2022

Your transmission is key to your vehicle’s health, safety and performance, delivering power from the engine to the wheels. Since it plays such a vital role, even problems that start small can easily escalate into much bigger issues. That’s why it’s important to maintain your vehicle by watching for signs of transmission problems.


Signs and Symptoms of Transmission Problems

There are many ways your vehicle can warn you if something’s wrong with the transmission. You can identify common transmission problems before they get serious by paying attention to what you feel, smell, hear or see.

If you suspect your vehicle might have an operational issue, ask yourself these questions to help pinpoint it. 


Does Something Feel Off?

Problems with the transmission’s gears can create shaking, grinding or vibrations. If the vehicle takes a long time to shift into gear, it could be due to low transmission fluid, shifter or cable defects, or a malfunctioning computer. 

Take action immediately if you notice a slipping sensation when shifting gears, if your vehicle goes into neutral on its own or if nothing happens when you hit the gas.


Do You Smell Burning?

Of course, anytime you smell something burning in your vehicle, you should take it seriously. A burning smell can mean that the transmission fluid is overheating, creating friction that will damage your transmission components. Low fluid levels, leaks or other issues can contribute to this issue. 


Do You Hear Noises?

Listen to your car.

Is your engine revving loudly as you accelerate? It could be because damaged or worn transmission parts are making it more difficult to shift gears. 

Do you hear buzzing, screeching or clunking sounds as you’re driving? Is there a strange humming or whining noise when the vehicle is in neutral? There may be a problem with your transmission’s gears, bearings or other critical components.


Do You See Other Potential Signs?

Bright red or dark red fluid in your driveway or garage is a sign that your transmission fluid is leaking. Your transmission fluid may be a different color, but any fluid leak is a problem for your vehicle that you should diagnose and fix as quickly as possible.

Watch for your check engine light, which will alert you when there is a problem with your engine or transmission.


Common Reasons for Transmission Problems

If you’ve noticed any of the indicators mentioned above, you could have a transmission issue related to the fluid, the parts in the system or even the computer that controls how your transmission interacts with the rest of the vehicle.


Fluid Problems

Transmission fluid acts as a lubricant and coolant that keeps parts from wearing down and the system from overheating. You can run into trouble if:

  • The fluid in your vehicle isn’t the right type for your transmission. Check your owner’s manual to make sure you know what kind of fluid to use.
  • A leak has lowered the fluid level. Low transmission fluid can lead to friction that damages the system, or to gear slippage if there isn’t enough fluid to power the hydraulics.
  • The fluid has become contaminated. Dirty or sludgy fluid can’t keep the system lubricated and functioning effectively.


Mechanical Problems

Even small mechanical problems may affect how your transmission functions and potentially endanger your vehicle. Common transmission issues include:

  • Leaky parts: Damaged or loosened components like cooler lines, gaskets and seals can cause fluid leaks and other problems.
  • Gear problems: Worn down or damaged gears won’t mesh together properly, causing slippage and hurting the performance of the system.
  • Valve problems: Damage to your transmission’s valve body or solenoid can lead to too much or not enough fluid in the system, or to fluid leaks.
  • Broken or worn friction clutches or bands: These parts help your vehicle’s engine power the transmission, so they must be kept in good working order.
  • Worn bearings: Needle bearings prevent friction in the gears, so the gears will grind if the needle bearings wear down.


Computer Problems

Modern engines and transmissions rely on a vehicle’s computer to function, so an issue with the vehicle’s chip or electrical system can manifest as a mechanical problem as well.

However, the computer may also help protect your vehicle if there is a mechanical issue present. If a sensor picks up an engine or transmission problem, the computer might respond by preventing the vehicle from shifting into a higher gear that might damage the transmission.


Protect Your Transmission With Hot Shot’s Secret

You can use SHIFT RESTORE from Hot Shot’s Secret to keep your automatic or CVT transmission running properly. SHIFT RESTORE will keep the surfaces inside your transmission clean, protected and properly lubricated so your vehicle can shift smoothly and quietly, helping stave off common transmission problems for longer component life.

Shop today for SHIFT RESTORE and other products that will help you get the most out of your vehicle.