Car safety: Transmission problems and how to spot them

No one ever wants to hear that they're having transmission problems, and repairs are often expensive...

No one ever wants to hear that they're having transmission problems, and repairs are often expensive and labor intensive. With careful observation, many transmission problems can be handled long before you find yourself having to call a mechanic! Below is a list of some typical transmission problems and how to spot them.

Low/no transmission fluid

Like routine oil level checks, maintaining recommended transmission fluid levels can greatly increase the life of your vehicle. Unlike oil, however, transmission fluid need not be checked as often. Because of this, it is often overlooked altogether. This is a big no-no. Low transmission fluid levels, a relatively easy fix, can lead to transmission slippage and a number of other serious transmission problems. Generally, if you find that you have little or no fluid in your reservoir, there's probably a leak somewhere.

Strange sounds from your torque converter

This is an issue that only those with an automatic transmission need to be concerned about. The torque converter allows your car engine to remain in motion while your gears come to a rest. If you notice a grating or grinding sound when you shift gears, there is definitely an issue with your torque converter. One of the more common problems, this can sometimes be remedied by simply adding fluid to your reservoir. Other times, you may need to have your needle bearings, which actually look nothing like needles, replaced.

Trouble with the solenoid

The solenoid allows and controls the flow of transmission fluid in your vehicle. Again, problems with this part may simply be caused by low fluid levels. On the other hand, the problem may be more complex in that there may be a problem with your vehicle's on-board electronic system. In other words, the solenoid may not be receiving the proper instructions and you'll need to see a mechanic to have your system reset.

Watch the clutch

This may sound like something that only those of you with a manual transmission need to be mindful of. Don't be fooled. Automatic transmission vehicles actually have several clutches housed within the torque converter. The clutch allows the engine in your vehicle to remain in motion while shifting gears or coming to a stop. Typically, you can get about 75,000 to 80,000 miles of use out of the newer designs, if you are relatively gentle with them. Overloading your vehicle will significantly reduce the life of your clutch, and you'll notice difficulty in changing gears. If this is the case, take your vehicle to your mechanic, immediately.

If you find that your problem is somewhat more complex and the symptoms you've experienced point to the need for major work, there are several Atlanta mechanics that would be happy to get you back on the road!

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