While a sudden and unexpected transmission failure does happen, you likely will get some warning before it does. If you are paying attention to the sounds and the feeling of the car as you drive, you'll notice changes that indicate a problem is brewing. Here are some of the signs that tell you it's time to get to a transmission repair shop for an inspection before more serious problems keep your car from going anywhere.
1. You feel a hesitation as your car shifts gears.
The transmission should shift smoothly from gear to gear without you noticing. If you feel a delay when the gears shift, a problem may be developing in the transmission. It could be that the transmission fluid is low or the computer that controls the shifting has a problem. It's a good idea to get your car in for a transmission inspection when you experience this before the problem gets worse.
2. You hear a metallic "clunk" when the transmission shifts gears.
Components in the transmission are turning at a high speed when it shifts gears. Special hydraulics are used to shift gears while they are turning. Failure of this mechanism can cause gears to make noise as they engage. This can be a sign of low or dirty transmission fluid. It can also mean a problem with the computer or an imminent failure of one of the hydraulic parts in the transmission.
3. You hear or feel your car slip in and out of gear even though you are driving at a constant speed on level surfaces.
Other transmission components make sure the car stays in one gear in these conditions. If it is constantly shifting gears on you, get to a repair shop quickly as this can be a sign of a much larger failure where the transmission is unable to shift to any gear.
4. You notice a burning smell after you've been driving the car for a few minutes.
If the transmission fluid is low or has broken down due to the car running hot, the components in the transmission are not being adequately protected. If allowed to continue, the transmission will have a major failure, resulting in an expensive rebuild or replacement. As soon a you notice the burning smell, get your car in for service.
5. You notice a fluid leak under the car.
If you notice a bright red or reddish-brown pool of fluid under the car, you may have a transmission leak. It could be a gasket that is failing to make a good seal or a crack in the transmission casing. Get your car in for an inspection, such as at Northgate Transmission LLC, before the fluid level reaches a critical point and you start noticing the burning smell due to the transmission overheating.