6 early warning signs of transmission failure | BCS Workshop
Nov 09, 2023

6 early warning signs of transmission failure

The transmission is one of the most important components of your vehicle. Without a properly functioning transmission, your car won’t be able to move. A malfunctioning transmission can cause you great inconvenience and even lead to costly repairs. In the worst case, it may render your car completely inoperable. 

Luckily, the transmission, most often, won’t fail without giving off some clear warning signs of its malfunctioning. Any issues detected and treated early not only prevent costly overhauls but also ensure your comfort and convenience. 

In this blog, Ford service Burwood expert mechanic shares 6 warning signs of transmission problems that every car owner should be aware of. Knowing these bad transmission symptoms will help you take immediate action before it entirely fails. 

Before we delve into knowing the warning signs, let’s first understand why a well-functioning transmission is crucial for your car. 

Why is your vehicle’s transmission important? 

One of the primary functions of a car transmission is to provide power to your vehicle to gain speed and even drive up a steep hill. It transfers power from the engine to the wheels through gears that control the speed of your vehicle. Without transmission, your vehicle won’t be able to move smoothly or control its speed. 

Because of the transmission, your vehicle adapts to changing road conditions, making driving safe and efficient. 

6 common warning signs that your transmission is wearing out 

There are a number of bad signs of transmission problems, of which we have created a list of 6 of the most common indications. Knowing these signs will help you detect potential issues with your transmission and get them treated before it's too late. 

   1. Unusual smells 

Unusual smells are often a sign of problems, especially when coming out of a vehicle. If you notice a burning odour while driving, it can be a sign of an overheating transmission or low transmission fluid. 

The vehicle uses transmission fluid in an enclosed system to keep your car components lubricated and at moderate temperature. Over time, the transmission fluid may start burning and become increasingly contaminated. It can also happen if your transmission starts overheating due to a low level of fluid. If the overheating continues, it may completely break down the transmission. 

Some other reasons for the unusual smell are a malfunctioning torque converter or damaged or worn-out clutches. 

So, if your car is producing a burning smell, take it to a mechanic right away! 

   2. Clunking or other unusual noises 

A clunking sound from a vehicle could point out a number of issues, like starter problems, flat tyres, wheel bearing problems, or a faulty transmission. 

You may hear a clunking, buzzing or whining noise when shifting gears or grinding noise when the transmission is under heavy load. 

Pay attention to any unusual noise coming from your car and have them inspected by a professional immediately. Ignoring strange noises can lead to more serious transmission problems and costly repairs.

   3. Leaky fluids 

Each car component uses a specific type of fluid for its lubrication and smooth functioning. The transmission fluid is responsible for cleaning, cooling, and lubricating the transmission's internal components, including gears and clutches. 

While an oil leak isn’t common, if you notice puddles or red spots under your car, it could indicate a problem with the transmission, its seals or gaskets. These parts keep the fluid inside the transmission. If they're broken or worn out, the fluid might leak.

   4. Your transmission starts slipping 

If your car suddenly speeds up while driving, making you jerk back in your seat, it means your transmission is slipping. When your transmission struggles to stay in the right gear, it's a sign of a big issue. It might be due to low transmission fluid, dirty filters, or a faulty pump. Getting a mechanic to check and fix the problem as soon as possible is crucial.

   5. The check engine light comes on 

Modern vehicles are designed with sensors that continuously monitor their functionality and performance. As soon as the transmission starts malfunctioning, the check engine light will turn on. Most importantly, if the check engine light turns red or starts blinking, pull safely off the road and call up a local mechanic immediately. 

   6. Delay in gear shifts 

Gear shifting should be a smooth process. But if you notice a delay or stickiness when shifting the gear, it’s an indication of a transmission problem. It can be a sign that the transmission alignment needs to be adjusted.

What to do if your transmission is failing? 

If you sense that your car needs transmission repair, you should avoid driving unless you seek professional repair services. Depending on the warning signs of transmission problems you are noticing, pull off the vehicle to the side of the road and get your car towed by a local mechanic. 

Driving a car with transmission issues will further escalate them, causing full-blown transmission failure.

Tips to maintain your car’s transmission 

Precaution is always better than cure. Hence, if you want to avoid costly transmission repairs, take proper care of it. Here are some easy tips: 

  1. Regular maintenance can ensure your transmission is running smoothly and prevent future repairs. As such, you should regularly check the transmission fluid and change it as per the manufacturer’s guidelines. When changing the fluid, do not forget to replace the transmission filter to allow continuous fluid flow. 
  2. Taking immediate action when you detect an issue or notice any of the above warning signs can save you time and money. Driving continuously with a faulty transmission can leave you stranded, requiring costly repairs. 
  3. Drive smoothly and be gentle on the gas pedal. Avoid abrupt or sudden starts and stops. This will put less strain on the transmission.  
  4. Use the correct transmission fluid as recommended by your vehicle manufacturer. If you are still not sure about which transmission fluid is the best for your car, consult your mechanic. 
  5. Warm up your car before driving, especially in cold weather, to allow transmission fluid to flow smoothly. 

Final takeaway 

As a car owner, learning to recognise early warning signs can save you from dealing with major transmission issues later. Also, never ignore warning signs if you don’t want to experience any inconvenience. Get your vehicle regularly serviced at our Bosch car service centre in Melbourne at BCS Workshop and keep your car safe from any type of transmission issues. We offer major and minor and other vehicle servicing for all types of makes and models. Book your service with us today!

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