Are you suspecting that your automatic transmission is going bad and you are asking yourself how do you know if your transmission is going out? If this is the situation that you are in, you should not worry since we are going to cover everything you need to know when it comes to this problem and learn how to overcome this issue.
Reading symptoms should be something that you need to practice and this situation is perfect when it comes to this practice. When you read the symptoms, you are able to tell if something is going on in your car. By doing this, you will avoid some situations like this and end up with a failed transmission in the middle of the street.
That’s why performing proper research about problems like this is key if you don’t want to end up with a completely failed transmission. You need to learn all of the symptoms that are available out there and in the instant that you experience a symptom of a failing transmission to be able to tell if your transmission is bad. And we are going to help you out with that.
First, we will learn the basics of transmissions and how do they work. Then we will learn the symptoms of how do you know if your transmission is going out. Then we will learn the possible solutions that are out there. And, we’ll look at how much money does this work costs and more. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.
What Is A Transmission, And How Do You Know If Your Transmission Is Going Out?
Before we dive into the symptoms of how do you know if your transmission is going out, let’s first start from the basics and learn what is a car transmission. Knowing this is extremely important if you want to learn how to diagnose a broken transmission.
First, you need to learn where they are located what is their role in general. Meaning that without the basics, you are pretty much lost when it comes to diagnosing one. So, what is a car transmission?
A car transmission is a special device that is installed on each car with an internal combustion engine. The transmission has a specific role in running the car and without a transmission, a car would be completely undrivable. But how come? Why is it so important?
It is that important because the transmission is in charge of converting the rotational energy produced by the crankshaft into torque. This conversion is essential because you cannot just connect a crankshaft and a differential and call it a day.
The power distribution should be linear if you want all of the energy to be used in the right manner and non of it to be lost. Losing energy is unsustainable and will not deliver a good performance overall. So, the transmission is the perfect device that makes all this magic possible.
The idea of having a transmission is centuries old. But it was up until cars were mass-produced that this invention saw mass use and implementation. In the beginning, vehicles were running manual transmissions. But it was in the ’40s when automatics started to be implemented. But how do automatics work and how do you know if your transmission is going out? Well, more on that in the following chapters.
How Does An Automatic Transmission Work?
Now before we learn how do you know if your transmission is going out. Let’s learn how do automatics work. As we noted, they are one of the most widely used transmissions in the US.
It is worth noting that there are several different types of automatic available. Namely, the classic torque converter automatic is still one of the most widely used automatic transmissions. Then there is the CVT which is getting more and more popular. There are also some other transmissions like the DSG and PDK. These are less widely used but they can still be found in some Volkswagen vehicles.
To simplify things, we will primarily focus on the torque converter in this article since the wast number of transmissions are from this type. Meaning that there are only a fraction of the other types of transmissions.
Nevertheless, the torque converter automatic as you probably know works with the help of a torque converter device that is installed between the transmission and the engine. This torque converter does all of the magic and tells the transmission which is the right time to change the gears.
And for the gear change in charge is the hydraulic fluid also known as ATF. This fluid is pushed through the tiny crevices inside of the transmission and with the help of this fluid, the vehicle gets the shifts done right.
Since this fluid is extremely essential when it comes to delivering proper shifts. If the fluid is dirty, you might feel some symptoms of how do you know if your transmission is going out and you will get scared that your transmission is broken. But more on that in the following chapters.
Symptoms Of A Transmission That Is Going Out
Now we came to the important bit and that are the symptoms of how do you know if your transmission is going out.
Learning these symptoms will help you out in learning if the transmission is failing and if you need to worry about it. We will share some of the most detailed information that will be essential in diagnosing the issue and help you make a proper call if this is happening to you or not. Since these problems can also be caused by dirty transmission fluid. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.
1. Check Engine Light Can Mean Your Transmission Is Going Out
The check engine light is probably one of the first symptoms of how do you know if your transmission is going out. So, why is this the case?
Well, this is the case because modern transmissions contain a lot of electronics that are telling the transmission how and when to shift. All modern transmissions are controlled with the help of software. Meaning that they are programmed to deliver the best shifts all the time.
So, this means that they are connected to the ECU which is the brain of the car. This ECU is a computer that regulates everything inside of the vehicle and can know when there is something wrong with a component. Namely, the transmission, in this case, will send some warnings to the ECU and the ECU will throw a check engine light on the dashboard.
You won’t have a clue right out of the bat why this check engine light turns on. But after some deeper investigation and diagnosing. You will be able to tell if the problem lies in the transmission. For this job, you will need to get an OBD2 scanner and scan the car for codes.
After scanning if there are some codes connected to the transmission. It means that the transmission is somewhat broken and it needs sorting out. The solution depends on the problem itself. But this is one of the ways how do you know if your transmission is going out. Now, let’s move on to the next possibility that could make this problem.
2. Weird Sounds That Can Mean That Your Transmission Is Going Out
Another symptom of how do you know if your transmission is going out is the weird sounds that are happening. If you have been driving this car for ages you probably know when something is odd.
And when the transmission breaks, there are a ton of odd sounds that are not normal in regular situations when the transmission works fine. But what types of sounds can you expect.
The most common sounds of a broken transmission can include clunking, buzzing, humming, or whining. But the most common sound from the bunch is probably the humming sound. This sound will sound like everything is going to go in pieces anytime soon and it is really scary.
Hearing these sounds is one of the ways you can practice when learning how do you know if your transmission is going out. Train your ears because collecting and properly reading these sounds is key if you want to diagnose this problem asap and continue driving your car with no problem.
3. The Transmission Doesn’t Like To Go In Gear
Another instance of how do you know if your transmission is going out is when the transmission doesn’t like to go into gear. This problem is one of the prime examples when the transmission is giving up on you and makes you unable to use it until it’s sorted.
This is a feature on some transmissions where the ECU sees there is damage inside of the transmission and it will prevent you from going into gear. The only option would probably be to shift it back to neutral to be able to tow the car to the nearest shop and get it diagnosed.
So, you shouldn’t get surprised if the transmission suddenly doesn’t want to go into gear. This means something and this symptom is one of the prime answers to the question of how do you know if your transmission is going out.
In this situation, you shouldn’t ignore it and forcefully place the car into gear. This will only do more harm than good.
4. Stuck Into A Certain Gear Can Mean That Your Transmission Is Going Out
Another situation of how do you know if your transmission is going out is when the transmission is stuck in a certain gear and doesn’t want to go up or down. Or stuck up to a certain gear let’s say 2nd gear.
This is a clear situation that your transmission has damage inside and this might be the wake-up call for you that you have a problem.
When the transmission is this broken, you probably need to do a complete rebuild since some gears are not working as they should. So, whenever you have this problem. It is important to act quickly and make sure that you uncover the defect right on time before things get much worse and the transmission fails completely. This is how do you know if your transmission is going out. One of the clearest symptoms that should never be ignored.
5. Transmission Jerking, Grinding and Shaking
Another way how to know if your transmission is going out is when experiencing some of these situations that we cover in this chapter.
These are common probable reasons why you should be alerted that the transmission is pretty much ready for a rebuild. These include jerking and vibrations. The transmission will jerk and shake a lot when it is not happy.
The worst of the bunch is probably when the gears start to grind and when this happens, you know that there is going down pretty soon. This is a situation when metal is grinding against metal and this is not good.
This is how do you know if your transmission is going out. But these problems can also be caused by a bad or lack of transmission fluid. If the car hasn’t been flushed regularly, these problems are often known to happen and cause a lot of headaches to some owners. In some situations, the only solution is a flush of the transmission fluid and the transmission should be back into proper working order.
6. ATF Leaks From Can Mean That Your Transmission Is Going Out
Another of the symptoms of how do you know if your transmission is going out is the transmission fluid leaks that the transmission develops. This fluid is also known as ATF.
This fluid is bright red in color and is known to leak from the transmission oil pan. Meaning that this fluid can get low and this low level of transmission fluid will possibly harm the transmission internals and also make the gear shifting much worse.
When the ATF leaks you will notice grinding, shuddering, and other unpleasant noises. This is a red flag and you need to check the transmission fluid level in your transmission. If it’s getting low because of leaks, you need to top it off and make sure that this level is never below the minimum.
The best way to inspect the car for leaks is to put it on a lift and see if there are leaks on the sides of the oil pan. If there are some wet spots it means that there is a transmission fluid leak. And this is how do you know if your transmission is going out.
The solution for this would be replacing the transmission pan gasket and flushing the ATF from the transmission. This will guarantee that you will never experience symptoms in the future.
7. Burning Smell Can Mean That Your Transmission Is Going Out
Another way of how do you know if your transmission is going out is the burning smell that it develops. This will be highly noticeable on transmissions that are leaking ATF.
The fluid basically leaks out from the transmission and then comes into contact with hot surfaces. This contact with hot surfaces will make the fluid burn and burning fluid will be noticed inside of the cabin.
When you smell something burning, this is no good and you need to react as soon as possible. Because if you don’t react when this happens the transmission can be left without fluid and there will be problems that will come up and bite you by the hand. As we said, these are the grinding noises, vibrations, shudder. Overall, poor performance from the transmission.
And eventually, the transmission will overheat and you will have to replace it with a new one. Then you will ask yourself why you didn’t learn how do you know if your transmission is going out. Because if you did, you would have solved the problem sooner and the transmission wouldn’t fail as it did.
Diagnosis – How Do You Know If Your Transmission Is Going Out
We learned how do you know if your transmission is going out. Now let’s see how you can diagnose a broken transmission based on our input. As we learned, knowing the symptoms is probably the first good step that you can take into uncovering the problem and also learn how to possibly solve it.
The first thing you need to do is to check your transmission fluid. When you check the transmission fluid the transmission needs to be hot. Drive the car for 10 to 15 minutes and let the fluid circulate around the transmission. Then pull out the dipstick and inspect the fluid level.
Inspecting the level is going to give you a good input whether you have enough fluid or not. If the fluid is low, top it off. Also, check the fluid color, it should be bright red. If it is purple it means that this fluid is done. Also, observe some metallic flakes. If there are a lot of them, then this might be your problem.
The first thing you need to do is to flush the fluid and replace it with a new one. Then also replace gaskets if it’s leaking and other minor problems. If the problems persist, it means that you have a more serious issue and the transmission has to be opened.
Or replaced with a new one if you don’t want to bother with this one. So, that’s how do you know if your transmission is going out. Now let’s learn if it goes out, how much it will cost you to replace it with a new one.
How Is For A Replacement? – How Do You Know If Your Transmission Is Going Out
We learned how do you know if your transmission is going out. Now, let’s see how much a replacement transmission is going to cost you? This is a question that bothers a lot of owners and the answer really depends much on the car that you are running. Some of them are more expensive than others.
The average cost for a new transmission is between $3,000 and $3,500. Still, there are some transmissions that are cheaper and also transmissions that are even more expensive. You cannot expect to drive a really expensive car and hope that you will replace the transmission for less than $3,000.
That’s why buying a used one can also be a good idea. You can find good used transmissions for $2,000 or even less in some situations. But this doesn’t guarantee you anything, to be honest. You might end up with a good one. But you can also end up with a bad one.
That’s why the best is to go for one found in a wrecked car that has low miles, or a refurbished transmission. You can also rebuild the old one. And that’s what we are going to cover next. Since we already learned how do you know if your transmission is going out.
Is Rebuilding A Good Idea? – How Do You Know If Your Transmission Is Going Out
We learned how do you know if your transmission is going out. Now let’s learn if you can rebuild your existing transmission. And the short answer is yes. You can rebuild your transmission and bring it back to operating condition.
But the important thing to know is if your transmission is rebuildable. Since there could be some damage that could make rebuilding your transmission to be economically unfeasible and scrap your transmission.
The important thing in this situation is to take your transmission to a good shop that is doing these transmission rebuilds and tell them to rebuild it for you. If they can they will tell you the cost. Or else, they will tell you to get a new one. It’s that simple.
Performing a rebuild also costs and this cost can be from $1,500 and up to $3,000. Depending on how many components need to be replaced and serviced inside of the transmission. Overall, that’s it when it comes to how do you know if your transmission is going out.
Conclusion – How Do You Know If Your Transmission Is Going Out
In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to how do you know if your transmission is going out. First, we learned what is a transmission and how does it work.
Then we covered the symptoms of how do you know if your transmission is going out. Learning the symptoms will help you immensely when it comes to diagnosing the problem and learning what could be the root of the problem.
Then we learned how you can diagnose this problem at home. After we learned how much is a new transmission and whether or not it is possible to rebuild your already existing transmission.
These tools have been tried and tested by our team, they are ideal for fixing your car at home.