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Here’s How To Tell If Your Transmission Is Failing

When something unexpected happens in your car while you on the road, you’re left with no choice but to call for roadside assistance. But did you know that you can lessen the chances of having to call for emergency help? That is by keeping a watchful and observant eye on your car.

A common cause for the need for roadside assistance is transmission failure. The cost of repairing that will vary but before the transmission totally fails, there are a few signs that you could watch out for. They are as follows:

Weird Scent

Whenever you smell something weird coming from your engine, you should check it. The scent could be similar to something burning. This could happen as a result of low transmission fluid levels. When that happens, it could start to overheat and burn. When the engine is running hot, it could also cause faster wear and tear.

There are also other causes of that burning scent. Even it is not about the transmission, you should always check or have your car checked whenever you notice a burning scent.

Unusual Sound

We’ve all seen it in movies. When a car breaks down, it usually produces clunking sounds at first. That’s also true in real life. You can hear unusual sounds when the transmission is failing. Whenever you hear new sounds, whether it is humming, whining, or clunking, it should always be checked.

Manual transmissions that are faulty will usually sound loud. It seems that the sounds are coming out of nowhere. The clunking sound whenever you shift gears is a telltale sound that you should have your mechanic look over your transmission.

Check Engine Light

The check engine light is there to give you a warning about what is happening to your vehicle. It shouldn’t be ignored. However many people do that because when it turns on, there are multiple sensors that could be triggered. They’d still need to figure it out but that is worth the time and the effort especially when you discover that the sensors were on due to transmission problems.

The sensors on the transmission are designed to detect the presence of tiny tremors or jerks that you wouldn’t really notice. If you’ve already noticed them, then that means that the problem has already progressed. Don’t wait for that and have a diagnostic scan whenever your check engine light turns on.


When your transmission is properly functioning, it will easily slide into the proper gear. However, if you feel that it is hesitating or if there is no response, then there must be something wrong with your transmission.

For vehicles with a manual transmission, you could also observe a delay in the shift plus a surge in RPM. There could also be engine noise present that doesn’t match your speed. Sometimes, this could also be due to the clutch but it could also be due to the transmission.

Fluid Leak

There are different fluids used in the vehicle and if you find a pool of liquid under your vehicle, then you should take time to identify it. A car with an automatic transmission fluid leak is usually easy to identify. That is because it has a sweet smell and it is reddish in color. Sometimes, the color might be darker and the scent could be similar to toast.

When you suspect that your transmission fluid is leaking, use your dipstick to check its level. Unlike other fluids like engine oil, it won’t burn off. That’s why when it is low, it probably is leaking.

Car Shaking

Ever felt shaking when shifting your gears? That doesn’t feel right, does it? That because your car should normally shift smoothly without notice. Some people ignore this problem but it could get worse due to wear. That jerking motion could get intense as the vehicle gets further damaged.

Gear Problems

If you notice that your car won’t go into gear, then you should check the fluids. It may just be the fluids. However, if your fluids are clean and at an optimal level, then the problem might be due to the shift cables already. Alternatively, it could also be the clutch linkage or computer system.

Another situation where the gears are involved is when your car slips gears without input. This is unsafe and may also lead to engine damage. You may also want to check the fluid levels and the condition of your bands because worn-out bands and low fluid levels could lead to gear slipping.

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