If Your Transmission Could Talk: What Those Signs Should Tell You

When it comes to mechanical issues with your car, you're probably pretty familiar with the typical engine malfunctions. However, many car owners lack the understanding necessary to identify problems with the transmission. Unfortunately, transmission trouble can be costly if it's overlooked until it leads to complete failure. Here are a few things you should watch for when you're monitoring your transmission's behavior.

Gears Won't Shift

One of the most obvious indications that there's a problem with your transmission is when you can't shift it into gear. First gear is usually the first one to experience this problem since it is used so heavily, but it can happen with any, or all, of the gears.

Shifting issue can be caused by several different things. The easiest to check is the transmission fluid. If your transmission fluid is low, the transmission isn't getting the lubrication it needs to protect and engage the gears. The same is true if you've used a transmission fluid that's not the right viscosity for your transmission. If it's not the fluid, you may have a problem with the shift cables that necessitates adjustment.

Foul, Burning Odor

Your transmission should never smell like it's burning. If you're catching an odor of burnt transmission fluid, that usually means that the transmission is overheating, which can lead to complete failure.

Since the transmission fluid is a key component to keeping your transmission cool, an overheating transmission is usually the result of low or dirty fluid. Low fluid levels may also mean that there's a leak in the transmission case somewhere, so you'll want to have it thoroughly inspected, flushed, and then refilled with fresh fluid.

Noises In Neutral

It's pretty common sense to assume that if you are hearing noises from the transmission when it's in gear, that's a cause for concern. However, if it's in neutral and you're still hearing noises, that deserves attention as well.

Sometimes it's the result of low fluid levels, but it could also be an indication of more significant issues, including a worn reverse idler, damaged gear teeth, or worn bearings. The older your transmission is, the more likely this is to occur. It will need inspection by a transmission repair specialist to determine the actual cause of the problem.

Slipping Out Of Gear

When you shift your transmission into gear and release the clutch, the gear is supposed to lock in place. However, sometimes you can have one or several gears that don't stay engaged, so the transmission pops out of gear and back into neutral. This can be dangerous on the road, so as soon as you experience this, you need to have the transmission serviced. It could be caused by worn gears, bad bearings, or even damaged bands.

Unresponsive Clutch

When you press the clutch pedal, it's supposed to disengage the disk and flywheel so you can shift the gears. If you press the clutch pedal and still can't shift the gears, as evidenced by grinding when you try, that means your clutch is not responsive.

This is usually a pretty quick fix, because it is typically caused by too much slack in the pedal. If the pedal has too much slack in it, it won't provide enough leverage to the linkage connected to the clutch disk. That keeps it from engaging from the flywheel, leaving you with grinding gears every time you try to shift. You can adjust the clutch pedal yourself if you're mechanically inclined, or make a quick appointment to have it done at your local transmission shop. It's a non-invasive repair, and usually not very expensive.

Understanding the warning signs of transmission trouble as well as the causes for these problems may help you keep yourself safe on the road. If you are experiencing problems with your transmission, talk with your local repair shop as soon as possible. For more information, contact companies like Karry's Automotive Service Center.