The transmission is critical to your vehicle’s performance. It is a complex mechanical system that transfers power from the engine directly to the driveshaft and wheels. Even if you regularly maintain your vehicle, there is still a chance that you may encounter transmission troubles. Every year, thousands of brand-new vehicles come straight out of the factory with defective transmissions.
Whether your vehicle has a fully automatic transmission or a continuously variable transmission, there are some signs of transmission problems that you should pay attention to in order to avoid costly repairs. The following are some of the most common transmission issues experienced by drivers.
Transmission Slipping, Won’t Engage or Stay in Gear
Difficulty switching gears is one of the more obvious signs of problems in the transmission system. Depending on your vehicle’s transmission type, it may respond differently when its transmission is not working properly. In vehicles with manual transmission, grinding while shifting gears is common. In automatic transmissions, you may feel the car wobble in between gears, with more jarring transitions into higher gears.
If your vehicle’s transmission is slipping but it has the correct amount of fluid, then there could be issues with the link that holds the gears in place. This should be looked at by a repair technician as soon as possible as this can be particularly dangerous while you are driving the vehicle. You will know when your car’s transmission has slipped if you hear its engine revving while shifting gears. It will feel as if you are driving over ice or another traction-less surface.
Transmission Shaking or Shuddering
Drivers of vehicles with defective transmission systems may notice shaking or shuddering at higher speeds. In vehicles with automatic transmissions, the shaking may become even more intense as they transition into the next gear. Instead of shaking or shuddering, manual transmissions commonly indicate problems by making grinding noises or grinding sensations when shifting into a different gear. In some cases, these symptoms can be so loud and severe that drivers often believe they were involved in accidents.
Certain vehicle brands are more prone to shaky transmissions. General Motors, for instance, has dealt with extensive transmission issues in its vehicle lineup since 2016. Countless Chevrolet, Cadillac, and GMC drivers have experienced the infamous “Chevy Shake” along with other concerning transmission symptoms in their vehicles. In recent years, GM has been hit with various class action lawsuits pertaining to these issues. If you own a 2014-2020 GM vehicle, pay particular attention to its transmission system and ensure that it is working properly.
Drivers with transmission issues in their vehicles can experience bucking, surging, jerking, and stuttering in while changing gears or pressing the gas pedal. This may feel like a clunk or thud and your vehicle may also struggle to accelerate.
Transmission Fluid Leaks
Automatic transmission fluid is critical to your car’s shifting. Even a small fluid leak can indicate major problems in your vehicle. Transmission fluid leaks are easy to spot- automatic transmission fuel is typically bright red in color and may have a sweet smell. It may also take on a darker color and burnt smell. If you have noticed strange fluids on your driveway, take your vehicle for a short drive then check its transmission dipstick. Unlike motor oil in your car’s engine, transmission fluid is not consumed or burned up when your vehicle is in use. If your vehicle is low on fluid, then there may be a transmission fluid leak somewhere in your vehicle.
Transmission Delayed Shifting or Hesitation
A functioning transmission should shift right into the proper gear. If you notice a significant delay while going into gear or shifting into other gears, the transmission is the most likely cause. Hesitation and delayed shifting may point to several problems in your transmission such as solenoid issues, low or dirty transmission fluid, clogged transmission filters, defective transmission cooler, and other concerns.
Transmission Abnormal Noises: Whining, Clunking, Grinding
If clunking, humming, or whining sounds appear in your vehicle, it may have automatic transmission problems. In vehicles with defective manual transmissions, drivers will often notice sudden, loud mechanical sounds. If your car’s transmission whines or clunks, it is important that you take it into a service provider sooner rather than later as there could be an issue with the torque converter or planetary gears. If additional wear or damage is done, the entire transmission may need to be replaced.
Vehicles that stall and then suddenly restart may have issues in their transmission lines. The torque converter in these vehicles may not be engaging and disengaging properly, when can cause the transmission to slip and for the car to stall. Keep in mind that stalling can also indicate problems in other vehicle systems such as the engine or electrical systems. If your vehicle is stalling repeatedly, it is important that you take it in for repairs promptly.
Car Surging or Sudden Deceleration
Sudden acceleration or deceleration can indicate serious transmission problems in your car. When a car’s engine surges, you will notice the vehicle speeding up and or slowing down despite consistent pressure on the accelerator. The RPMs will also fluctuate. A surging transmission can cause a vehicle to lurch forward and then fall backward while in use. Affected vehicles may also suddenly lunge or lurch forward while in neutral or park.
Transmission Abnormal Smells
If you notice a burning smell in your vehicle, you should take it to an auto body shop or dealership immediately. At best, your transmission fluid may simply be low, however a burning smell can also indicate that your transmission is overheating, which can result in a vehicle fire.
Check Engine Light On
While there is no transmission warning light, the check engine light may appear in vehicles with transmission problems. Your car’s transmission system has multiple sensors that can detect anything unusual in the transmission. If something is wrong, these sensors tell your car’s central computer, and the check engine light turns on.
Keep in mind that the check engine light can also come on for a variety of reasons unrelated to your vehicle’s transmission. Consider the check engine light to be an early indication of a problem that could get worse if you do not take it in for repairs. It is important to verify with a service provider as to what the exact cause of the warning light in your car may be.
Have Transmission Problems? Your Vehicle Could be a Lemon
If you are experiencing any of the transmission symptoms above or any other repeated issue with your vehicle, you should take it in for repairs as soon as you can. Any one of these transmission problems could put you at risk for a serious accident. If the manufacturer has yet to give you a solution after multiple repair attempts under warranty, then there is a chance that your vehicle could be a lemon.
A lemon is a vehicle that has been repeatedly repaired during the manufacturer warranty for the same or similar problems that affect the safety, use, and value of the vehicle. These defects typically affect systems of the vehicle such as the transmission, engine, or electrical systems. The California Lemon Law covers a wide range of vehicle problems, including the transmission issues mentioned above.
If you are a California consumer and you suspect you may be driving a lemon, you should call the Lemon Law Experts today. As California’s premier lemon law firm, we are incredibly proud of our outstanding success rate in securing our clients refunds and cash compensation. If you believe you have purchased or leased a lemon, let us know by giving us a call or by filling out an evaluation form on our site today.