Transmission issues are something that nobody wants to deal with.
The transmission is one of the most vital components of a vehicle. The transmission supplies the vital torque that the engine needs to maintain performance, and without it, the car literally won’t be able to move.
Thankfully, the transmission won’t fail without giving off some clear warning signs of trouble first. Minor transmission repairs are generally affordable and can help prevent the need for major transmission problems that require costly overhauls.
The good news is that when drivers know and understand the early signs of transmission problems, they have a much better chance of nipping transmission trouble in the bud before the problem becomes serious. It is important to get a vehicle into a specialist in car service in Longmont as soon as possible when these red flags are detected.
Keeping that in mind, here are six common indicators of transmission problems that all drivers should be aware of. This list is not exhaustive, but it will help drivers detect some of the most common signs of potential transmission failure before it is too late.
1. Unusual Smells
Strange smells could indicate a number of problems, transmission issues being only one of them. Be especially wary of any burning smells coming from the area of the engine as this is a sure sign of trouble.
A vehicle will often emit a foul odor once fluid levels start running low. If transmission fluid starts leaking, the transmission will overheat and emit an odor. Likewise, if fluid levels are too low or the transmission fluid is dirty, the transmission will end up working harder than it needs to work contributing to unnecessary wear and tear on this vital component.
Regardless of the source, a vehicle should never be omitting unusual smells, and if it is, it might be unsafe to drive. Likewise, it is always a good idea to get all fluids checked, including the transmission fluids, during regular maintenance appointments like an oil change in Longmont CO.
2. Clunking Sounds or Other Weird Noises
Clunking sounds in a vehicle are almost never a good thing.
This could point to a number of issues like flat tires, issues with the wheel bearing or alignment in Longmont or starter problems. Clunking could also indicate a faulty transmission.
At the same time, unusual hissing, grinding or high-pitched whining noises could also indicate transmission trouble down below. A driver who notices any of these issues while switching gears needs to be especially wary. An unusually noisy vehicle could also be an indicator of more serious problems, especially if it is making bumping sounds in neutral gear.
That said, any driver who notices strange noises coming from their ride should definitely not shrug their shoulders and pass it off. Call up a local auto repair in Longmont immediately.
3. The Check Engine Light Comes On
Yet another indicator that should never be ignored is the Check Engine Light. All too many drivers ignore this common dashboard warning light only to end up dealing with serious problems later down the line.
True, the issue might be something as simple as needing an oil change in Longmont, but why put this off when it will help improve the performance of the vehicle in the long term? The warning light works as an early detection signal for early transmission tremors that drivers will probably not be able to detect, so it is always a good idea to get a vehicle checked out promptly when the Check Engine indicator pops up.
Most importantly, always be sure to react right away if the check engine light turns red or starts blinking. If this is the case it is a good idea to pull safely off the road as soon as possible and call up a local car service in Longmont immediately.
4. The Vehicle Isn’t Responding Normally
When a driver pushes on the gas pedal, the transmission will respond accordingly by sliding the vehicle into the right gear so that it can produce a surge of engine speed. If the vehicle isn’t responding as it normally would when the gas is pushed, the transmission is often to blame.
As transmission function begins to fail, drivers will start to notice that their car doesn’t speed up as quickly or seems to hesitate before accelerating. A vehicle that is experiencing transmission issues will probably also have a difficult time maintaining speed while climbing uphill.
Meanwhile, drivers with manual transmissions will notice delayed shifting and strange engine or rpm surges. If this is the case, don’t wait to take that vehicle to a professional to get it checked immediately.
5. Fluid Leaks Under the Vehicle
Transmission fluid does not burn off, so if a vehicle is losing transmission fluid, a leak is always to blame.
Thankfully, most automatic drivers will be able to notice this red flag quite easily because the fluid is literally red and will tend to appear under the vehicle wherever it is left parked. Transmission fluid also has a distinctly sweet smell that will become noticeable if there is a fluid leak.
Like the engine, the transmission has a dipstick that makes it easy to check fluid levels if a leak is suspected. Just warm up the vehicle a bit with a short drive and then make sure it is fully turned off and parked on level ground before opening the hood.
If the oil is low, there is a leak somewhere, so take the vehicle in for car service in Longmont right away.
6. Difficulty Shifting Gears
A transmission that is in good working order will always shift smoothly. Cars should never shake, jerk or vibrate excessively when the gears shift. If this is the case, it’s time to get that vehicle checked out pronto.
Likewise, a vehicle should never shift from one gear to another without input from the driver.
Standard drivers will experience a dragging clutch accompanied by a telltale grinding noise. It will feel more difficult to get the car into gear than usual and they might even get totally stuck in one gear.
When drivers learn to recognize the early warning signs of trouble with the transmission, they are much less likely to have to deal with major transmission issues later down the line.
Keep in mind that none of the above red flags should ever be ignored. Even if the transmission isn’t the problem, it is important to get a vehicle to a local specialist in auto repair in Longmont so that they can diagnose the problem and help save money in the long term.
Most auto repair shops in Longmont will recommend that car owners get their transmission flushed every 30,000 miles or every 2 years to keep their vehicle in good working order. But for some cars, there may be certain situations when that rule of thumb needs to be ignored. In some cases, a transmission may need to be flushed much sooner to help protect the transmission and the car’s overall performance. For owners that believe there may be an issue with their transmission performance, there are several key signs they can look for.
When to Flush: 4 Most Common Signs of a Troubled Transmission
Grinding and Strange Noise
When a transmission becomes bogged down with dirt, grease and other debris it may begin to show signs similar to that of low transmission fluid levels. If drivers notice their transmission grinding or making odd sounds when driving, it is a good idea to check the transmission fluid levels while the car is still running. If the fluid level seems normal, the vehicle most likely needs a transmission flush.
Hard to Shift Gears
Whether a vehicle is a manual or automatic, clean transmission fluid is necessary for smooth operation and maximum performance. If a transmission has too much dirt or sludge in the fluid it can cause a sluggish response when shifting gears. It may be time to flush the transmission fluid in an automatic if the car changes gears too quickly or too late. Manual transmissions that need a flush may be hard to shift at all.
Excess dirt and contaminants in the transmission can cause a loss of hydraulic power, therefore keeping the transmission from staying in the appropriate gear. A dirty transmission can quickly start to interfere with transmission fluid flow, resulting in the lack of pressure needed for the transmission to stay in gear. It the transmission is experiencing no other issues besides slipping gears, it may be time to get a flush.
A transmission that is polluted with an excess amount of dirt and debris usually needs a transmission flush. When drivers notice a certain unexplainable surging while driving it may mean that the dirty transmission is hindering proper fluid flow. This can cause the car to jump or surge backwards and forwards without warning. This phenomena is caused by an inconsistent flow of transmission fluid and indicates that it is time for a flush.
Taking the time for an oil change every 3,000 miles is second nature to most car owners. Many conscientious drivers do not consider regular transmission maintenance though. The transmission, like the engine, needs periodic services to keep it running reliably and to prolong its mileage.
How to Prolong the Life of a Transmission
Aside from regular transmission services the life of a transmission can be prolonged through certain habits. First off, never shift into park or reverse until the vehicle has come to a complete stop. The area where the car is parked should be checked for signs of fluid leakage on the ground. Catching a leak and therefor low levels of fluid can stop a transmission from attempting to run on low to now fluid and being permanently damaged. And transmission should never be used for braking. These driving habits can add life to a vehicle and prolong the need for a transmission rebuild or replacement.
How Often Should a Vehicle Receive Transmission Services?
The periodic transmission services for most vehicles is based on mileage more than a set time period much like oil changes for the engine. The transmission fluid should be changed either every 15,000 miles or one time a year, although some newer vehicles come with a manufacture’s guide that increases the time to 36,000 miles or three years. The older the vehicle the more frequent services it will need. Fluid changing services take about an hour and a half to complete and can add years to a transmission and reduce the risk of a driver being stranded by sudden problems.
There are other services that should be scheduled regularly to keep the vehicle running smooth for as long as possible. These include tire rotation and alignment, transmission flushing, computer check-ups of the engine and before trip check ups. A bit of prevention can literally save a driver thousands and keep them safer on the road. A wise driver can find a trusted source for auto repair in Longmont and begin a long-term relationship with an expert mechanic to ensure the longest life possible for their vehicle.
Many people believe that they need to go to a specialist to get transmission work done. While it’s true that not every general shop can handle the big jobs, there are some providers of auto repair in Longmont who can take care of everything. Here are a couple of the transmission-related services such a shop may offer:
These aren’t needed for healthy transmissions more than perhaps once every 100,000 or 150,000 miles. Each car’s owner’s manual will have the manufacturer’s specifications for that particular make and model. Unhealthy transmissions, on the other hand, can end up with burnt fluid or fluid that’s been contaminated with metal shavings.
It can be tempting to have the fluid changed when bad fluid is seen on the transmission dipstick, but this isn’t a real solution. That’s because flushing the fluid doesn’t get rid of the underlying problem. The proper sequence of repairs is to fix the problem first and only then put the new fluid in.
Transmission Rebuilding or Replacement
This is what takes care of the actual repair. With rebuilding, the existing transmission is removed and taken apart. The damaged internal parts are replaced with new ones while the ones that are still good are kept. Then, new seals are installed and the unit is reassembled. This is a lot of work, so it can take several days for a busy shop to get the job done.
Transmission replacement doesn’t involve installing a truly new unit. Instead, the shop uses one that was rebuilt at some prior time. The pre-rebuilt one may have been worked on by the shop, but it’s more common for general mechanics to buy them in from large rebuilding companies. Either way, using one that was already rebuilt is a time saver for customers. All the mechanic has to do is take out the old unit and install the new one. Despite this, the price is usually about the same because the rebuilding work did have to be done at some point.
Other Transmission Services
The other main service offered is diagnostics. Some other car problems that seem to point to the transmission are actually caused by other things. This makes it a good idea to test and make sure that the transmission is really at fault.
If a car has been acting up, it’s a good idea to stop by an all-service garage before seeing any specialists. The general garage will likely offer better prices and a faster turnaround time.