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7 Signs Your Transmission Is In Trouble

A car’s transmission helps it move by shifting power from the engine to the wheels. It does this whether the car has an automatic or manual transmission.

Automatic transmissions change gears by themselves as the car speeds up or slows down. Manuals need the driver to shift gears using a clutch pedal and gear stick.

Having a healthy transmission is super important for smooth driving and safety. Smooth gear changes and power delivery make driving easier and safer.

This article is about spotting common signs of transmission trouble. Recognizing these signs early can save you from costly repairs and keep your car running smoothly and safely.

Understanding Car’s Transmission System:

The car’s transmission system serves as the crucial link between the engine’s power and the wheels, managing its distribution for top-notch performance and efficiency.

It works by employing a set of gears with varying ratios to effectively convert engine power into usable torque and speed for different driving scenarios. This includes higher gears ideal for smooth highway cruising and lower gears for enhanced pulling power, such as when towing heavy loads.

When it comes to types, there are two main categories: manual and automatic transmissions. Manual transmissions demand driver involvement in gear selection using a clutch pedal, offering a hands-on driving experience. On the other hand, automatic transmissions provide a more convenient driving experience with gears shifting automatically, requiring minimal input from the driver.

7 Signs Your Transmission Needs Attention:

Your car’s transmission plays a crucial role in ensuring smooth and efficient operation on the road. However, like any mechanical component, it’s prone to wear and tear over time. Recognizing signs of transmission trouble early can save you from costly repairs and potential breakdowns.

In this guide, we’ll explore seven common indicators that your transmission needs attention, ranging from warning lights to unusual noises and fluid leaks. By understanding these signs and taking prompt action, you can preserve the health of your transmission and maintain a safe driving experience.

Check Engine Light Illumination:

When your check engine light comes on, it’s a signal that something’s wrong with your car, which can include transmission issues. Specific trouble codes related to the transmission might trigger this light, but diagnosing them requires a mechanic’s expertise.

 Difficulty Shifting Gears: 

Trouble shifting gears can manifest as hesitation, slipping, or getting stuck. These issues often point to internal component malfunctions, affecting the smooth operation of your transmission.

Unusual Noises: 

Listen out for abnormal sounds like grinding, whining, humming, or clunking, as they can indicate transmission problems. Different noises suggest different issues; for instance, grinding might signal gear meshing problems, providing valuable clues for diagnosis.

Burning Odor: 

A burning smell could mean your transmission fluid is overheating or internal components are burning. It’s crucial to pull over immediately and seek professional help to prevent further damage to your transmission.

Leaks Under the Car:

Transmission fluid leaks often indicate worn-out seals or gaskets. Keep an eye out for reddish fluid under your car, as low fluid levels can lead to transmission issues and potentially costly repairs.

Shaking or Vibrations:

If you feel shivering or shaking during gear shifts or vibrations at high speeds, it could signify internal transmission problems. Addressing these symptoms promptly can prevent further damage to your transmission.

Unresponsive or Delayed Acceleration:  

A delayed response when pressing the gas pedal could indicate transmission trouble. In severe cases, the car might even go into “limp mode” to safeguard the transmission. Don’t ignore these signs; seek professional assistance to address the issue effectively.

Importance of Early Detection and Repair:

Early detection and repair of transmission problems are paramount to maintaining the integrity and functionality of your vehicle. By addressing issues promptly, you not only prevent further damage but also mitigate the risk of costly repairs down the line. Neglecting transmission issues can have severe consequences, potentially leading to complete transmission failure. When left unattended, minor problems can escalate, causing extensive damage to internal components.

This can result in a complete breakdown of the transmission, leaving your vehicle inoperable and requiring expensive repairs or replacement. Therefore, by promptly identifying and addressing transmission issues, you can safeguard your vehicle’s longevity and avoid the inconvenience and expense of major repairs or replacement.

Should I Repair or Replace a Transmission System?

When your car’s transmission starts acting up, you’re faced with a straightforward choice: either fix it or consider getting a new one. The decision hinges on a couple of key factors, primarily how severe the issue is and the age of your vehicle. For minor problems, a simple repair might suffice, but if you’re dealing with a heavily worn transmission in an older car, opting for a replacement could be the better solution in the long run. 

To make the right choice, it’s best to seek the advice of a trusted mechanic. They have the expertise to diagnose the problem accurately and provide guidance on the most appropriate course of action for your specific situation. Consulting a professional ensures that you’re making informed decisions about the health and maintenance of your vehicle without unnecessary stress or confusion.

Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Transmission:

Maintaining a healthy transmission is essential for ensuring the longevity and performance of your vehicle. By following a few simple guidelines, you can minimize wear and tear on this vital component, ultimately saving yourself from costly repairs and breakdowns. 

  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule for transmission fluid changes and services. Regular fluid changes help keep the transmission lubricated and functioning properly over time.
  • Avoid harsh acceleration and sudden stops, as these actions can strain the transmission and lead to premature wear and tear. Smooth, gradual acceleration and braking are gentler on the transmission.
  • Refrain from towing heavy loads beyond your vehicle’s capacity. Overloading the transmission can cause excessive strain and damage, particularly when navigating steep inclines or rough terrain.
  • Prevent engine overheating, as high temperatures can degrade transmission fluid and compromise its lubricating properties. Keep an eye on coolant levels, ensure proper ventilation under the hood, and address any cooling system issues promptly.


A properly functioning transmission not only enhances vehicle performance but also contributes to overall road safety. By heeding the warning signs mentioned in this guide and promptly addressing any transmission issues, you can prevent further damage and costly repairs down the line. 

Remember to stay vigilant and seek professional assistance from a certified mechanic if you suspect transmission trouble. Attempting DIY repairs for complex transmission issues can exacerbate the problem and lead to additional complications. With proper care and attention, you can keep your transmission in optimal condition and enjoy smooth, trouble-free driving for years to come.

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I am completing and submitting this form so that American Dream Auto Protect will contact me quickly by phone, text, and/or e-mail to discuss my vehicle