How To Diagnose A Transmission Problem

Car troubles typically show some sort of warning sign before there is a problem. It can be something as subtle at the car jerking when shifting gears, an odd smell, an ugly fluid stain, or a new noise. If you learn how to recognize the warning signs, you can potentially save yourself from a large repair bill down the road. Here is how you can identify issues with your car's transmission.

Look For Fluid

Start by looking underneath where you park your car. Fluid leaks can be a common problem with transmissions, and potentially lead to greater damage if you ignore the problem. It's easy to confuse oil with transmission fluid if you are uninformed. Clean transmission fluid will be red, while dirty fluid can be either dark brown or a much darker red.

Listen For Noises

If you drive your car enough you will be familiar with the normal sounds that it makes. You can hear the car shift up automatically as you accelerate on the freeway, and shift down as you come to a stop. Pay close attention to the sounds that your car makes to identify a potential transmission problems. It could be an existing sound that has suddenly become louder, or a brand new sound you are unfamiliar with.

For example, a failing torque converter can make a rattling or screeching sound that emanates from the rear of the car in rear-wheel-drive vehicles while the car is in park. The sound will gradually decrease as you increase your speed.

Feel For Abnormal Acceleration

Slipping happens when the car fails to change gears when accelerating. It is more common when driving uphill or accelerating from a complete stop, and will feel as if you are accelerating very fast, but the car is simply not keeping up with the speed.

You may also feel vibration when driving your car, which is caused by gears in the transmission that are damaged or chipped.

Smell For Burning Fluid

Transmission fluid will produce a burning smell when it leaks onto a hot component of your car such as the exhaust system. It can be difficult to tell the difference between burning transmission fluid, oil, or brake fluid from smell alone. Wait for your car to cool off and check all your fluid levels. Having only low transmission fluid is a sign that it is not any of the other fluids leaking.

Once you have a suspicion that there is a transmission problem, take your car in to a company that offers auto repair services to have it repaired.