What You Need to Know About Transmission Slipping and Your Car

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A slipping transmission is a sign that your vehicle needs maintenance or repair. It is not always a sign that the transmission is failing, but a slipping transmission should never be ignored. We’ve compiled some basic signs and symptoms of a transmission slip, as well as what to do if your transmission is slipping.

What Does a Car’s Transmission Do?

To figure out if your transmission is slipping, it helps to understand the purpose of a car’s transmission and a little bit about how it works. The transmission transfers the energy produced by the car’s engine to the wheels. The internal combustion engine of your vehicle creates power and the transmission converts that power into torque, or rotational energy. The torque is then conveyed to the axles and rotates the wheels.

What is a Slipping Transmission?

When a transmission slips, it is not properly transferring the energy from the engine to the wheels. It may feel like the vehicle is slow to respond, or does not respond at all when you press the gas pedal. Or it could feel like your car changes gears suddenly without any apparent reason.

Common Signs of a Slipping Transmission

It is not always easy to diagnose a slipping transmission. There are a few common signs that you should definitely not ignore. Some of the more commons signs of a slipping transmission include:

  • Engine revving, specifically RPMs (revolutions per minute) that exceed 3,000-3,500
  • A high-pitched whistling noise from the engine with grinding sounds
  • Delayed acceleration
  • Delay when shifting from park to drive or reverse
  • Car shifting at unexpected times
  • Loss of engine power

How to Fix a Slipping Transmission?

A transmission can slip for several different reasons and some of the causes are far easier to fix that others. For example, a clogged transmission filter, low transmission fluid, or even burnt transmission fluid can all cause a transmission to slip and are not that difficult to fix. You’re looking at a more severe problem however if the transmission slips as a result of worn or broken transmission gears or bands.

Since low or ineffective transmission fluid is a likely cause of a slipping transmission, it can make a world of difference to do a transmission flush. This is when an ASE-certified technician flushes the transmission with fresh transmission fluid and cleans the entire system. Any burnt or ineffective fluid is flushed out. A transmission flush can also get rid of any contaminants that may have been preventing the proper flow of transmission fluid.

There are transmission fluid additives available that can help, to an extent, with some transmission slipping. These additives can help to improve friction or remove varnish buildup in the transmission. They cannot repair damaged gears or other internal parts of your transmission. Additionally, you should not use any transmission additive that contains solvents. Solvents can cause the seals in your transmission to wear more quickly by lowering your transmission fluid’s lubrication.

If you have had a transmission flush and tried an additive to no avail, you may have a serious transmission problem. The clutch may need to be adjusted or replaced. The bands may need adjustment or replacement. The gears themselves may even need to be replaced. In any of the instances, the transmission must be dismantled to perform these repairs.

Slipping Transmissions in Kearns, Utah

If you think your transmission is slipping, it is better to deal with it now than to wait until later. A transmission slip that can be resolved with a transmission flush today may require more costly repairs in the very near future. If you are around Kearns, UT and have any signs of a slipping transmission, contact Ace Auto Repair today. We’ll help get you and your vehicle back in gear.

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utah transmission repair

Next to the cost of replacing an engine, replacing a transmission is the most expensive vehicle repair an owner can make. Expect to pay between $1800 and $2500 for completely replacing a transmission. Having the original transmission repair (rebuilding the transmission) is even pricier, averaging $3000 or more, depending on the extent of the damage and make of the vehicle.

Making repairs to a faulty transmission as soon as problems are detected dramatically reduces the cost of transmission work and can prevent the need for transmission replacement. If your car starts exhibiting any one of the following issues, get it to a transmission repair shop as soon as possible. Car problems do not correct themselves or magically disappear! They only worsen and cause more damage to the engine.

Car Shakes When the Gears Shift (for both manual and automatic transmissions)

Normally functioning transmissions keep your ride smooth during gear shifts. Automatic transmissions that shift hard, jerk or shake during a shift change may mean your transmission fluid needs changed or fluid level is low. In manual transmission vehicles, abnormal gear shifts could indicate damaged gear synchros, worn clutches or other, more severe issues.

You Can Smell Fluid Burning

Extremely hot transmission fluid has a distinct, acrid smell that does not smell like burning oil but more like burning rubber. Burning transmission fluid indicates a leak that is dripping onto hot engine parts or seriously dirty fluid that needs drained and replaced with new transmission fluid. Running your car with old, contaminated transmission fluid is just as harmful to the engine and transmission as never changing the oil.

Noises in Neutral

If you suspect your transmission needs attention, trying putting your car in neutral and listening for unusual whining, groaning or ticking noises. Wear and tear on parts such as bearings or gear teeth often cause noises that indicate a failing transmission.

Slipping Gears

Healthy transmissions keep your car in one gear until you decide to change the gear. When your transmission “slips”, it may show an RPM of 3500+ or take a long time to coast. Additionally, your vehicle may seem to delay accelerating when you press on the gas, which is an indication that it is not transmitting enough power to the engine’s internal combustion part. Transmission slips could also result from broken or worn out bands.

Shifting Gears

Your Vehicle Won’t Go Into Gear

Low transmission fluid may prevent your car from engaging the drive or reverse gear, which indicates a leak probably exists somewhere in the lines. For cars with manual transmissions, it could be a sign of a worn clutch plate if the vehicle manages to engage and creep a little bit forward. Regardless of whether it is a minor fix, automobiles that don’t slide easily into gear require immediate attention by a professional mechanic.

Leaking Transmission Fluid

Causes of transmission fluids leaks include loose pans, improperly tightened bolts or unsecured drain plugs, cracked pan gaskets and damaged toque converters or fluid lines. Constantly replacing lost transmission fluid isn’t the answer to correcting these problems, either. Your transmission nor your engine will operate efficiently when fluid levels experience wild fluctuations. Getting the leak repaired so that fluid levels remain steady will dramatically extend the life of your vehicle.

Your Check Engine Light Comes On and Stays On

You might not hear strange noises or notice a pool of red transmission fluid under your car but when your “check engine” light comes on, you really need to do exactly what it says and get your engine and transmission checked professionally. Although newer cars are equipped with extra-sensitive sensors that can detect the smallest engine irregularities, all instances of the “check engine” light coming on needs properly diagnosed by a transmission specialist.

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Certified Transmission Repair Utah

Don’t depend on shady backyard mechanics to work on your transmission. Trust the experts at Ace Auto in West Jordan, UT to repair transmission problems before they really damage your wallet.