Understanding the Symptoms of a Failing Transmission

June 9, 2023 9:47 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

The transmission is responsible for the transfer of power from the engine to the drivetrain. Without it, your vehicle’s performance will be severely affected. Most often, a car’s transmission failure is sudden and unexpected. However, there are several symptoms you can look for to determine if your car’s transmission is failing. In this blog post, we will discuss these indications in detail, so you can address the issue promptly.

Signs of a Failing Transmission

1. Strange Sounds

The first sign of a failing transmission is usually a strange noise. Perhaps you have noticed a growling, humming, or whining noise emerging from your engine. These noises are a result of the transmission’s internal components, such as bearings and gears becoming worn-out or damaged. In addition, you may hear a distinct clunking or grinding sound when you shift gears. If you experience these sounds, it’s essential to take your vehicle to an experienced mechanic for a diagnosis.

2. Difficulty Shifting Gears

The transmission should shift gears seamlessly without any issues. However, if you find it challenging to shift gears, such as a delay or bucking feeling when trying to change gears, then it could indicate a failing transmission. You may also notice that the gears slip or unexpectedly shift into neutral while driving on the road. If you face these symptoms, then it is likely due to the wear and tear of the transmission, and you should get your vehicle serviced as soon as possible.

3. Poor Acceleration

One of the most significant signs of transmission problems is when your car’s acceleration is poor. Unresponsive acceleration is generally due to a failing clutch or a slipping transmission, resulting in delayed response or loss of speed when pressing the gas pedal. If your car’s acceleration feels like it’s struggling and you’re not able to accelerate quickly, then it’s time to take your vehicle to your local mechanic.

4. Low Transmission Fluid

The transmission fluid cools and lubricates the internal components of the transmission to ensure its proper function. If the fluid is low, it will hinder the performance of the entire system, potentially causing the transmission’s failure. A visible sign that the fluid level is low is when your car’s transmission starts to overheat, and you may notice a burning smell coming from the engine. Most modern vehicles have an in-built transmission fluid level indicator that signals when the fluid is low. Ensure that the fluid is at the recommended level by checking the owner’s manual.

5. Transmission Fluid Leaks

If you notice a bright red or brownish fluid on your garage floor or driveway, it may be a sign of transmission fluid leaks. The sudden loss of transmission fluid can cause significant damage to the transmission if it’s left untreated. It’s crucial to address fluid leaks immediately because your transmission’s filter, pump, or seals may be damaged, causing the loss of fluid. A skilled mechanic will be able to locate the source of the leak and fix it.

6. Check Engine Light

Last but not least, the check engine light on your car’s dashboard can often indicate an issue with the transmission. Although the engine light can turn on for various reasons, it’s essential to have it checked, especially if you experience the aforementioned symptoms above. In addition, computers on modern cars often generate codes that specify the exact cause of the engine light. Auto shops use these codes to diagnose the specific problem and repair the vehicle.


A failing transmission can lead to significant problems, such as unsafe driving conditions and expensive undertakings if not addressed adequately. Asides from the outlined symptoms above, you may also notice a burning smell, vibrations or shaking while driving. It’s important not to ignore any of these signs and to take your vehicle to a professional mechanic immediately. Regular transmission maintenance is always best to ensure your car runs smoothly and efficiently. Replacing a transmission is a costly and mechanically intensive repair, so be sure to address any symptoms of transmission failure before it becomes a more significant issue.

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