The Most Common Automatic Transmission Problems

Lake Oconee Boomers

The Most Common Automatic Transmission Problems

Automatic transmissions are manufactured with intricate designs and detailed gears to power and communicate with the operating systems in your vehicle. It’s only natural that with time, mileage, and use, these transmissions will eventually need repairs. In this article, we’ll discuss the most common automatic transmission problems.

Grinding or Shaking Gear

When you switch gears, an automatic transmission should seamlessly shift between gears without any unusual sensations. If switching gears creates a jarring feeling where the vehicle shakes or grinds, check your transmission immediately for faulty or misaligned gears. Gears that are damaged over time or defunct will commonly cause noticeable grinding and shaking sensation when switching gears. These faulty gears need to be examined and fixed to avoid further damage or safety issues.

If your vehicle is slipping between gears rather than grinding, there may be a technical issue between your vehicles’ operating system and transmission. Automatic transmissions contain mechanisms called splines that transfer motions from input to output. It is imperative to check these drive systems to ensure they are correctly operating and communicating with your vehicle to avoid slipping gears or input and output gear issues. If you are unsure what splines are or if your gear splines are functioning correctly, have them reviewed immediately.  

Strange Noises

Not sure what those strange whining and screeching noises radiating throughout your vehicle are? Strange noises are a common sign of automatic transmission problems and are not to be taken lightly. These strange noises are often the result of an automatic transmission’s fluid breaking down. Transmission fluid is essential to lubricate the mechanical gears and components inside a transmission. When this fluid breaks down, gears have little to no lubrication and instead whine and screech because of friction. The next time you hear a strange sound from your transmission, check your fluid levels.

Strange Smells

If your automatic transmission smells like smoke or has a burning smell, your transmission fluid may be overheating. Overheating fluid will cause a loss of lubrication within the gears and will increase damaging friction between different transmission components. Friction will both damage inner gears and create a buildup of debris and waste. It is crucial to have your transmission fluid and gears reviewed immediately after smelling smoke to avoid this transmission damage. Failing to have the transmission checked for overheated fluid and debris buildup could lead to a total transmission breakdown.

Leaking Transmission Fluid

Since transmission fluid is not drained or minimized by time or mileage, low transmission fluid levels are generally a signal of a leak somewhere in the transmission. A leaking transmission will most likely be identifiable by red stains on the floors of garages or driveways. If you suspect a leak in your transmission, have your vehicle inspected immediately. Fixing fluid leakages and levels can be a quick and straightforward fix. However, avoiding repairs and letting fluid levels drop low enough to cause internal friction and damage to gears will lead to a costly transmission failure.  

A total transmission failure is costly, damaging, and avoidable. Listen to how your automatic transmission communicates with your vehicle to signal when internal problems or leaks are present. Understanding your automatic transmission’s gears’ intricate purpose will better prepare you to drive and maintain your vehicle safely.