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Detecting Transmission Problems

by | Jan 18, 2023 | Best Western Transmission

If you have ever experienced problems with your vehicle’s transmission, there were most likely many signs and symptoms that you may have missed.  Many of these signs are detectable through your different senses of sight, smell, hearing, and touch.  In this month’s blog post, we discuss how to use your senses to stay alert to a possible developing problem with your vehicle transmission.

Your vehicle’s transmission is one of the most important systems in your vehicle.  Whether you drive a manual or automatic transmission, this hard-working system is what transfers the power from your engine to your wheels.  Without it, your vehicle would not move.

Too often, vehicle owners discover a problem with their transmission when it may be too late – resulting in significant repair costs and inconvenience.  By using your senses, you may be able to identify and address transmission problems earlier on and avoid major repairs.

Use Your Eyes

What you see is an important part of staying alert to your transmission.  Many transmission problems stem from leaking transmission fluid, which is vital to keeping the moving gears and parts lubricated and temperature controlled.  If you park your vehicle consistently in the same place, check under the vehicle occasionally for any signs of transmission fluid.

When transmission fluid is new and clean, it is a bright red transparent color.  As the fluid ages or becomes contaminated, it will darken in color.  If it is a light, pinkish color it may be contaminated with water or coolant.  Look for small pools of transmision fluid, or spots that are various shades of red beneath the vehicle. If you notice any, do not hesitate in contacting a service professional for an inspection.

Use Your Nose

Most vehicle owners are familiar with the normal smells that their vehicle may emit while in operation.  When there’s a strange smell, it should alert you that something may be wrong with a component within your engine.

Transmission problems may sometimes create a smell, especially when the transmission fluid is contaminated or low, and the transmission is burning hotter by compensating for the fluid discrepancy.  In this case, you may smell a burning odor coming from the engine or outside the vehicle after getting out.

Additionally, if you smell a sweet smell in your engine, this may be a sign of leaking transmision fluid.  Transmission fluid is a viscous fluid, with a distinct sweet smell.  If the fluid is leaking on other engine components, you may pick up a slight odor of sweetness when under the hood or even a burning smell. 

Use Your Ears

While your transmisison can make distinct noises when it is failing, the exact cause of the problem needs to be further investigated by a service professional.  Some common sounds that may be associated with a failing transmision may include:

  • Whining that is high-pitched, especially when in reverse, in gear, or accelerating
  • Grinding, more common in automatic transmission gear issues
  • Clunking, more common in manual transmissions
  • Other miscellaneous sounds may include gurgling sounds from insufficient fluid in the lines, or humming or buzzing sounds

Use Your Touch

The final sense you can use to detect a possible transmission problem is your sense of touch.  The physical indicators that you may experience may go along with sounds and smells, if your transmission is failing.

When shifting, you may not feel the responsiveness that you would expect if the transmission were working properly.  You may also feel a grinding sensation, accompanied by grinding sounds.  Shaking or slipping gears are also something you may feel when trying to shift during acceleration.  This is a sign of sluggishness that can signal a problem with the transmission.

Using your senses of sight, smell, hearing, and touch is no substitute for a proper inspection of your vehicle transmission.  Sadly, by the time you are experiencing these signs and symptoms, your transmisison problems may be further advanced and result in costly repairs.

If you feel there may be a problem with your transmission, contact the service professionals at Best Western Transmissions to schedule an appointment.  We will inspect your vehicle and provide you with repair or replacement options if a transmssion problem is discovered.