Car Care Tips

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Maintenance May 3, 2019

What are the Signs of a Bad Transmission? 4 Things to Look For

transmission inspection

Though your car is put through its paces during your annual Virginia vehicle inspection, evaluating the exact state of your transmission isn’t on the inspection checklist. So it’s up to you to know when your transmission is in need of a tune-up. If you miss the signs that your transmission has taken a turn for the worse, you could end up with a blown transmission—which can put you and your passengers in danger and lead to an avoidable, costly repair.

What are the Signs of a Bad Transmission?

A bad transmission is not always as obvious as a blown tire, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to continue driving when you know something is wrong. Since a bad transmission can sometimes sneak up on you, it’s best to be on the lookout for the signs of a bad transmission to get ahead of expensive repairs.

Once you figure out that your transmission is acting up, it’s imperative that you bring your vehicle into your local Virginia Tire & Auto. One of our expert technicians can diagnose the problem before it gets worse.

Here are some of the potential issues that signal a problem with your transmission:

1. Transmission or Check Engine Warning Light is On

Whenever a light on your dashboard turns on, you know that there’s something going on under the hood that needs to be addressed. A lit-up dashboard is your car’s onboard computer alerting you that it found something operating in a way that it shouldn’t.

Often, these lights pop on when there doesn’t seem to be an obvious issue, but something damaging—and costly—could be lurking down in your transmission. Anytime that check-engine light pops on, come into your local Virginia Tire & Auto just in case the transmission is going bad.

2. Transmission Fluid Leak or Change Needed

Nothing in your vehicle is designed to leak, and that includes your transmission. Transmission fluid is red, so if you see blotches of red liquid on the floor of your garage or under your parking spot at the grocery store, you need to bring in your vehicle.

Transmission fluid is vital to the optimal performance of your transmission, so having a leak could lead to grinding gears and severe damage. Even if there isn’t a leak, transmission fluid should be changed every 30,000–60,000 miles to avoid clogs.

3. Strange Noises or Smells

Humming or Buzzing Noise from Under the Car
Humming, whining and buzzing noises are typically heard coming from automatic transmissions once they start to develop problems. Meanwhile, grinding gears are usually heard when there’s an issue with a manual transmission.

Either way, if you start hearing funny noises coming from your engine when you drive—especially if you’re in neutral—your transmission should be looked at by a professional. At best it means you need new transmission fluid, and at worst it means your vehicle needs a costly mechanical repair.

Burning Smell
Due to the tremendous amount of friction and energy generated in your engine and transmission, older transmission fluid will occasionally start to burn. That’s one of the reasons why consistent transmission fluid changes are as important as consistent oil changes. It goes without saying that if you smell something burning in your vehicle, don’t drive it and get it checked out as soon as possible.

4. Gears Slipping, Stalling or Refusing to Shift

When the gears themselves start to act up, it becomes obvious that you’re experiencing a serious transmission issue. Gears that don’t respond the way they are meant to can cause you to lose control over your vehicle while driving, putting you and your passengers in danger.

Transmission Slipping
Both automatic and manual clutches (the piece of machinery that separates and changes the gears) wear down over time. When that starts to go, gears can slip in and out of place, causing your vehicle to change gears unexpectedly. Driving becomes difficult and unsafe when you’re unable to stay in the correct gear or shift gears as needed.

Delayed Shift Between Park and Drive or Refusal to Shift
If your vehicle delays while shifting into your desired gear, there’s definitely something wrong with your car transmission. A well-functioning transmission allows drivers to easily switch in and out of gears without hesitating, jerking or refusing.

Don’t Let the Signs Pass You By

As soon as you start noticing the signs of a bad transmission, it’s important to stop by your local Virginia Tire & Auto. Our expert technicians can diagnose the issue and get you back on the road quickly and safely. Schedule your transmission service online or call us at 855.425.3677.

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