Transmission problems can turn your race car into a go cart. The automatic transmission has slipped or the clutch is gone bad in the manual transmission. No more shifting to high speeds, passing everyone on the road. That’s why you have to identify the problems and fix them early on. Read on to find out how to identify transmission problems and the best fixes to get your car back on the road at full speed.
Causes of Transmission Problems
The transmission is a vital part of the automobile design as it regulates changing gears so that the vehicle may accelerate or decelerate. The transmission design is complex and requires some degree of maintenance. When the transmission has problems, the entire driving experience is problematic. There are a few things that can go wrong in your transmission system. Here are the most common problems with manual or automatic transmissions:
Wear and tear – Sometimes automobile parts just wear out with time. It could also be helped along by hard driving. If you drive your vehicle hard all of the time with high speeds and sudden stopping, you can expect for things to go wrong prematurely. The transmission fluid may get low or you may start to hear sounds and smell odors. Aggressive driving in most cars is too much for some parts of the system to keep up continuously and a good way to destroy the transmission.
Inaccurate dipstick – When the transmission dipstick is inaccurate, the readings for the transmission fluid can have the vehicle operating with low transmission fluid. This is especially damaging in high performance cars which have a higher, constant demand for fluids.
Bad transmission installation – The installation of the transmission is also complex. It requires the right knowledge and expertise. The torque converter must be installed before the transmission is mounted to the engine block. If the transmission has not been installed properly, expect more problems.
Lack of cooling capacity – Most cars have a cooler for the transmission built-in to the radiator. The car make and level of usage may require an additional cooler to maintain or imp[rove the vehicle performance. The vehicle may need an additional stand alone external cooler to keep the heat away from the transmission.
Improper Throttle Valve Adjustment – Throttles contribute to the intake of air in cars with fuel injection. The throttle responds when you push the gas pedal to accelerate. The throttle position sensor (TPS) sends signals to the fuel injection. Older transmissions with no electronic pressure control solenoid (EPC) often have a detention cable that is not adjusted properly. The throttle strap may be maladjusted which can also cause damage to other parts in the system.
Damaged sensors or engine control module (ECU) – The engine control module (ECM) (view on Amazon), or the transmission control unit in newer vehicles, sends and receives signals to sensors in different systems under the hood. When the signals or untimely or inaccurate, the transmission does not know how to properly react. A bad solenoid pack or some bad connection could cause major problems when you try to drive.
Low, dirty, or leaking transmission fluid – Transmission fluid (view on Amazon) is one of the most important fluids in the automobile systems. Transmission fluid keeps the parts of the transmission system lubricated and also helps to keep things cool as the fluid can absorb some amount of the heat and transfer it to0 the radiator. Transmission fluid is hydraulic, which means it also facilitates shifting gears. The torque converter uses transmission fluid to form hydraulic circuits which transfer the rotational force between the engine and the transmission. Transmission fluid also reduces slippage and facilitates power transfers to the engine.
There are specific kinds of transmission fluid for cars depending on whether the car is a manual or automatic transmission. The color of the fluid is usually red; however, it can be several other colors depending on the brand. Low transmission fluid is usually caused by a leak or not topping off for a long period of time. When the transmission fluid is low, it becomes difficult to shift gears. There is a higher amount of heat under the hood and possibly the transmission can overheat. Seals harden and some metal parts can become corroded. In extreme cases, the transmission may fail.
Lack of maintenance – All automobiles come with an owner’s manual that lets the owner know how often to have the transmission serviced. When the car is not serviced based upon the manufacturer recommendation, problems arise over time. If your transmission system has a problem, the servicing would identify the problem early.
If you want to avoid transmission problems or other issues and save $100s of dollars that you’ll spend at the auto repair shop, you’ll need to service your vehicle often – you can use our mechanic-rated Auto Maintenance and Repair Manual to do this. It’s basically what mechanics use to go through your vehicle to check if there are any problems that need fixing. As soon as they notice the most minor problem, they’ll ask you to fork out some money even though it’s a problem you can fix yourself in minutes – the manual will teach you how to maintain your vehicle every few thousand miles and it’ll teach you how to fix minor problems that mechanics will ask you to pay for; saving you money in the long run.
A lot of our readers have the Auto Maintenance and Repair Manual printed on their garage wall and 92% of them haven’t visited the auto repair shop in the last year because they know what to do to avoid problems. All it takes is giving your vehicle a little attention every few thousand miles and you’ll never spend money at the workshop again.
Symptoms of Transmission Problems
A failing transmission or one that has gone bad can really ruin your driving experience. Your transmission controls your requests to go faster or to slow. It is not hard to notice when the transmission goes bad because your acceleration and deceleration will not be the same. Here are the most common symptoms of a transmission problem:
Check engine light – The Check Engine Light (CEL) on your dash activates to let you know something has gone wrong. The transmission system sensors throw codes if the transmission, throttle parts, or the throttle position sensor is no longer doing its job. Many people now use the OBD2 Scanner (view on Amazon) to see if there are trouble codes which have anything to do with the transmission.
Fluid on the ground – If your car has a transmission leak there ought to be some evidence of it. When you start your car and when you turn it off look under the car and see if anything is leaking onto the ground.
Irregular responses – When you press the pedal, you get little or no response. The acceleration is gone and the car is only idling. The delayed gear engagement is also a symptom of transmission problems. You may not be able to shift gears at all. This is a big clue that the transmission has issues that prevent you from going between gears.
Motor mounts – Intense vibrations are a sign of trouble with the transmission. The motor mounts are important because they are supposed to keep the engine and the transmission steady, to protect the engine from the vibrations. If the engine is not mounted securely, the vibrations will cause problems. This is not one of the most common problems; however, it does happen. You can easily check your motor mounts to make sure they are secure.
Strange Noises – You may hear strange noises such as a loud grinding when you try to change gears. These are also signs of slippage in the transmission along with huge spikes in the RPM. The louder the sounds, the longer the transmission has had the problem.
Burning Smell – The burning smell is a sign of low transmission fluid and/or there is overheating. Increases in friction with low fluid cause the burning smell when the engine is overheating. Overheating transmissions The transmission fluid may be low because of a leak. The transmission fluid often leaks between the transmission sump and the gasket. You may be able to see traces of the leaking fluid on the ground under your car. If the problem is not addressed, the transmission will fail completely.
Overheat – Some transmissions will overheat when there are serious fluid and cooling problems. The temperature of the transmission fluid should remain at a set temperature. When the transmission heats up, the seals begin to harden, the clutch begins to slip, and some parts are tarnished. You will smell the burning as the friction increases the heat. Transmission overheat is a big deal. If the problem is not addressed right away, the entire transmission will have to be replaced. Transmission failure occurs when the amount of transmission fluid is not correct and the car is driven in this state for a long period of time. When the transmission has failed, you will not be able to change gears.
Fixes for Transmission Problems
When the transmission goes out the car is rendered useless until the transmission is replaced. If the transmission is damaged, it causes problems with other parts under the hood. There are a few things that cause transmission problems and there are a few things you can do to fix them. Here are the most common solutions to transmission problems in the automatic or manual transmission:
Check your transmission fluid level – The transmission fluid is not something you should have to change all the time. However, when problems arise, the fluid can get low. The first thing you should check the level of fluid and also if there is any spillage on the ground before spending lots of money. If the fluid low, add what is needed and see if you still have the problem.
Use OBD2 Scanner – If you don’t have a transmission dipstick, or you don’t know how to use it, try an OBD2 Scanner (view on Amazon).The P0568 code and the P2740 are codes that tell you there is an issue with the transmission fluid level or pressure. These codes are universal, which means they apply to all makes and models.
Have your vehicle serviced – Take your car to a repair specialist if you are not familiar with any types of car repair. The automobile professionals can help diagnose the problem and suggest the best solution. Having your car serviced regularly will help catch transmission problems before they get out of hand. When you do not take your car in for scheduled maintenance, you run the risk of irreparable damage.
Bleed the Clutch – There should be plenty of free play in your clutch. The clutch not working properly is the most common cause of transmission problems. The clutch fork (view on Amazon) assists when the clutch engages and disengages. The clutch works off of transmission fluid which is hydraulic and sometimes air gets in. When air gets in the hydraulic fluid, it causes problems and must be removed. One way to get the air out is to bleed the clutch. A vacuum pump can used to pull the air through the fluid lines and bleeder valve; or pull it through. Bleed the clutch with a clear tube so that you can observe the air going out of the line.
Change the transmission pan gasket – Oftentimes, it is the pan gasket that has the leak. You may also need to have the axle seals inspected. The pan gasket can be replaced with minimal effort. You can check your owner’s manual or call to find out about the seal replacement. If you are not sure, take your car in for the service.
Remember safety first. You should not drive a car with transmission problems. Take your car to a professional and have the problem fixed. Then, drive safe.