How to Wrangle Common Transmission Problems
…A.K.A. Common Transmission Problems, or How I Learned to Quit Worrying and Trust My Mechanic.
Few vehicle parts matter more than a transmission. It is literally the heart of your car and acts as the medium through which your engine transfers energy to your wheels. A properly functioning transmission is critical to your car’s continued performance, and it is vital that a driver identifies and repairs any transmission problems as soon as they become evident.
These are some of the most common transmission issues that pop up for drivers on the road today. By identifying these problems as quickly as possible and getting the proper transmission repair service, you give your vehicle the best chance for continued survival and performance for years to come.
Leaky or Low Transmission Fluid
Perhaps the most immediately noticeable and universally common transmission problem is low or leaky transmission fluid, which can severely impact not only your transmission itself but also the surrounding engine block.
A transmission needs transmission fluid to work properly; by lubricating the gears and moving parts within your transmission, the fluid prevents internal structural damage from grinding metal and also helps to control the transfer of energy from the engine to the axle.
Transmission fluid may leak when the seals in the transmission or driveshaft become faulty or develop cracks, and may require a gasket to be replaced to repair the leak. A leak of transmission fluid can be damaging toward your engine as well, as the fluid can be quite caustic and cause erosion damage to other important engine parts.
Transmission fluid may also become contaminated by debris, like metal shavings from gear-to-gear contact, or by coolant from the radiator. This cross-contamination can severely reduce the effectiveness of the transmission fluid and can lead to further transmission damage if left untreated.
You can likely check the quality and level of your transmission fluid yourself by checking your transmission dipstick if your vehicle has one. The fluid should be at a good level and should be a bright, clear color – often red or green. Any murkiness or discoloration could be a sign of damage or contamination, and should signal that it’s time for a changeover.
Clutch Sticking or Immobile
Perhaps the second most common problem resulting from transmission issues is a sticky or immobile clutch, which can make shifting between gears difficult or impossible. If you experience severe shaking from under the hood, or if your engine is running at a very high heat, it could be a sign of a stuck clutch that is making your engine work harder than it should.
These kinds of clutch problems can also affect your solenoid, which electronically controls how much transmission fluid is pumped into your transmission. This can cause further damage to your transmission’s gears, and can initiate further issues with your torque converter. If your torque converter becomes overheated or experiences a problem, you may hear a grinding or screeching noise when driving as well as an overly hot engine.
When you allow problems to build on top of each other, you only increase the chances you will experience complete and irreversible transmission failure. This could mean an expensive repair job or, sadly, the end of your car, depending on the severity. Familiarize yourself with these issues and trust your mechanic to take care of them as soon as possible. That way, you can get back on the road and driving the car you love in no time.