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That Can't Be Good: 7 Warning Signs of Transmission Problems

Fixing your transmission isn't exactly a cheap repair, but you could do yourself a favor by catching the issues early. Know the signs of transmission problems.

AAMCO Overland Park, KS  | 03/15/2019  | Transmission Advice

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That Can't Be Good: 7 Warning Signs of Transmission Problems

There are cars today that can easily go 200,000 miles or more. However, not all of us are so lucky. 

Even with a meticulous maintenance schedule, your transmission may start to have problems. There are a few signs that you can look for that will signal that your vehicle is experiencing transmission problems. 

Here are seven signs to look for if you suspect your transmission has a problem. 

1. Clunking 

Have you noticed that your car is making some new sounds that you have never heard before? This is not a good sign. 

If you hear buzzing, humming, or clunking you need to have the transmission looked at. If you don't, you risk causing further damage. 

Another clunking is when the car goes to shift from one gear to another. Instead of a smooth shift, the transmission just clunks, thuds, or drops into the next gear. 

2. Burning Smell

A burning smell is never good no matter what you are doing. This is especially true when it is coming from your car. 

That smell could be a sign for many different things, but the most common is your transmission fluid overheating. You don't need to panic about the smell, but you should make an appointment to get it checked out. 

3. Gears Are Grinding 

This symptom is going to mean different things depending on whether or not you have a manual or automatic vehicle. If you drive a manual, you may just need to replace your clutch

As you shift the clutch experiences wear. Over time that wear causes the clutch to "slip". You will know this is happening by a grinding sound or feeling when you are shifting. 

It also means that while you are driving in one gear, then transmission "slips" and suddenly you are in another. There's no warning other than your engine suddenly whining or sounding bogged down. 

If you drive an automatic, this rough shifting could mean any number of things. Your mechanic will start by looking to make sure that the transmission's synchronizers are calibrated properly. 

4. No Response or Slow Response 

Your car's transmission should be responsive and immediately switch gears when you need it to. If you notice that your transmission isn't responding quickly then it's time for a once over. 

The easiest way to see if this is happening is to put your car in park. Then shift into drive. 

Does the car immediately take off when you take your foot off the brake? If not, and you have some lag time, then you have a problem. 

5. Fluids Are Leaking 

You park your car after driving and it sits for a bit. Then when you go to drive again, you notice a puddle of liquid has formed under your car. 

If you've been running your AC, that liquid might not be a big deal. However, if you suspect that it is something more serious then it's time to investigate. 

The transmission system is a closed system. Meaning that when it is running properly, there is no leaking. 

Start by placing a piece of cardboard under your car to collect the liquid. Then you can look at the cardboard to determine what and where the liquid is coming from. 

A clear liquid that looks like water will be from your AC system. But if the liquid is red or brown, there is a reason for concern. 

This information will be helpful to your mechanic as he narrows down the problem.  

6. There's a Light On

If your engine service light is on then this is the easiest clue that you need to get your vehicle checked out. This light being on may not exactly mean that there is something wrong with your transmission. 

What it does mean is that there is something wrong with your car. Get the light checked out so you don't cause more damage to your car. 

A mechanic will be able to hook your car up to software and read the output code. Once they have the problem code, they can determine what needs fixing. 

7. Neutral Is Noisy 

Put your car in neutral and let it run. Do you hear any bumping or other noises? Your vehicle should be a quiet running of the engine. 

If you do here "extra" noises that didn't use to be there try changing out the transmission fluid. This can fix the most common issues. 

Be careful if you decide to do this yourself, overfilling your transmission fluid can cause even more damage. You will know how much to add by looking up the factory specifications. 

If the noises aren't fixed then you need to take your car in to be checked out. 

What to Expect When Getting It Fixed 

Depending on the problem, your transmission repair could be anywhere from $150 for a defective solenoid or $2,500 to replace the entire transmission. As you can see, this is a wide range for both the severity of the problem and cost. 

The only way to know which end of the scale you are on is to take your vehicle in for maintenance and repair. Ignoring the problem will only serve to push you towards the more expensive repairs. 

As you ignore the problem whatever is wrong will cause other things to go wrong and more components to get damaged. 

Fix Your Transmission Problems

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms then you most likely have transmission problems. We can help you diagnose the problem and suggest a solution for repair. 

Our years of experience will ensure that you get the right diagnosis. Identifying the problem correctly means you will save money by not pursuing unnecessary repairs. 

Contact us today if you are experiencing one or more of these transmission problem signs. 

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