Is something a bit off with your vehicle’s functionality? Chances are that it has a transmission problem. If you don’t get it fixed soon, your prized possession might turn into a piece of junk, leaving you stranded on the roadside when you least expect it.
But how can you diagnose something as intricate as your vehicle’s transmission? Transmission problems don’t just start abruptly; they come with warning signs, and if you take the necessary steps, you won’t have to spend hundreds of dollars at the mechanic’s shop. Here are a few common symptoms of transmission issues and recommendations on what to do when you notice them.
Transmission Is Making Whining, Bumming, and Clunking Noises
Whenever your transmission starts making noises, you should probably start getting worried because that could mean a vast number of issues. The sound vehicle transmissions make vary widely across different makes and models, but most will produce a whining, bumming, or clunking noise.
These sounds are often louder, chunkier, and sharper in manual transmissions, while automatic transmissions produce a humming or whining noise. If you’re dealing with the latter, this could mean that you’re running low on automatic transmission fluid. You might want to refill it immediately because of its friction-reducing qualities. Without it, your transmission will be generating a tremendous amount of heat, not to mention the added wear and tear.
You should also consider the fact that transmission fluid doesn’t evaporate or burn off like oil. So, if you’re running low on transmission fluid, it might be because it’s leaking. In this case, you might have a blown or worn-out seal or a leak somewhere in your system.
There are various additives on the market that prevent transmission fluid from leaking, but to err on the safe side, you should visit your mechanic so they can check for any wear in your system.
Your Transmission Is Refusing to Get Into Gear
If your car doesn’t shift even after engaging the clutch and moving the stick, your transmission fluid might be at dangerously low levels. It might also mean that you used the wrong transmission fluid, or the shift cables and clutch linkage need adjustment.
In this case, you need to inspect your transmission fluid. You should ensure it’s at the right level and has the right consistency. If everything is okay, then the problem lies with your vehicle’s computer system. You can fix it by simply resetting it.
To do this, you need to detach the battery and let it stand for about 30 minutes. Next, reattach the battery and allow the system to reset itself. This can take up to thirty minutes, after which your vehicle should be running as it should be. However, you might want to visit your mechanic if this doesn’t work.
Transmission Is Slipping
Is your car having trouble staying in gear? If that’s the case, your transmission might be slipping, and you should start getting worried. A slipping transmission is probably the most serious and dangerous issue you can have with your transmission as it puts both you and fellow road users at risk.
A slipping transmission typically means that some gear components are loose, broken, or worn out. Before heading out to visit your mechanic, you can try a more cost-effective but otherwise temporary solution by adding an anti-slipping additive.
Anti-slipping additives are pretty effective, but you’ll have to test their efficacy before hitting any major roads or highways. But if you test your vehicle and it runs beyond the number of miles you go before it starts losing speed, that probably means that it worked, and you saved a few bucks.
Your Clutch Is Dragging
If you’re struggling to shift gears or getting a grinding noise whenever you do it, it could mean that your clutch is dragging. A dragging clutch is usually a result of the clutch disk not being able to disengage the flywheel when you engage the clutch, mostly due to a slack in the clutch pedal.
On the bright side, this issue is very easy to diagnose and even cheaper to repair. So, you don’t have to get your hands dirty on this one. A few minutes at your mechanic’s workshop should do the trick.
What If Your Transmission Gives Out While You’re Driving?
Transmission failures, especially when going at high speeds, can be pretty scary. But if it ever happens, try to keep your cool and do the following:
- Use your hazard lights to alert other drivers to approach cautiously
- Pull over at the side of the road as soon as you safely can
- Call for road assistance
The Bottom Line
Getting stranded on the side of the road due to a faulty transmission can be a huge bummer, especially if you don’t have enough money to fix it. Hence, it’s better to look out for the transmission issues above and fix them immediately. But even the best DIY enthusiasts need to visit the mechanic every once in a while, which might be pretty costly. So, you should also consider getting the best extended car warranty.