June 25, 2024

5 Common Transmission Troubles in Cars (And How to Solve Them)

Discover solutions to common car transmission problems with expert advice from Juniors Wrecker Service in Vinita, OK.

5 Common Transmission Troubles in Cars

Your car's transmission takes the engine's power and distributes it to the wheels at the optimal gear ratio, allowing you to control your speed and navigate different driving conditions. When a transmission malfunctions, it can significantly impact your car's performance and leave you stranded on the side of the road, requiring expensive on-site repairs or towing services.

Here, you will find 5 common transmission problems that can plague cars and how to resolve them so you can avoid expensive and time-consuming repairs. Stick around until the end to find out how to stay one step ahead of transmission issues with some preventative maintenance tips from our in-house experts!

Common Transmission Problems

1. Slipping Transmission


  • The car feels like it's changing gears on its own, even while maintaining a steady speed.
  • There's a loss of power, especially when accelerating.
  • A high-pitched whining noise may be present during gear changes.


Check the fluid level: Transmission fluid is key to a well-functioning system. A low fluid level can cause slipping and overheating. Consult your car's owner's manual for proper fluid level checks.

Inspect the fluid quality: Dirty or burnt transmission fluid loses its lubricating properties, leading to slipping. Look for a reddish-brown color and a burnt odor as signs of deterioration.

Seek professional help: If the fluid level is correct but the problem persists, or the fluid appears burned, it's best to consult a qualified mechanic for a thorough diagnosis. They can assess internal transmission components that may be causing the slipping.

2. Rough Shifts


  • The car jerks or shudders noticeably during gear changes.
  • Difficulty shifting gears, especially when going uphill.


Low or dirty transmission fluid: Similar to a slipping transmission, improper fluid levels or quality can lead to rough gear changes.

Transmission adjustments: Automatic transmissions may require adjustments over time to compensate for wear and tear. A qualified mechanic can perform these adjustments.

Internal component wear: In some cases, worn-out clutch plates (in manuals) or internal bands (in automatics) can cause rough shifting. This typically requires transmission repair or rebuilding by a professional.

3. Delayed Engagement


  • There's a noticeable delay between pressing the gas pedal and the car actually moving forward.
  • The car may hesitate or slip slightly before engaging a gear.


Check the transmission fluid level: As with slipping and rough shifting, a low fluid level can cause delayed engagement.

Inspect the fluid quality: Contaminated or burnt fluid can lead to sluggish gear changes and engagement issues.

Consider a transmission service: Even if the fluid level appears correct, a complete service can remove debris and contaminants that cause the delay. A qualified mechanic can recommend the appropriate service based on your car's needs.

4. Fluid Leaks



Schedule a professional inspection: Don't ignore fluid leaks. A mechanic can pinpoint the source of the leak and recommend repairs.

Regular maintenance checks: Regular inspections by a qualified mechanic can help identify leaks early on before they cause significant damage.

High-quality seals: Transmission repairs often involve replacing seals and gaskets. Ensure your mechanic uses high-quality parts to prevent future leaks.

5. Transmission Warning Light


  • The transmission warning light is illuminated on your dashboard. This light may be labeled "Transmission" or have a specific symbol for the transmission system.


Don't ignore the warning light: The transmission warning light is a crucial indicator of potential problems. Ignoring it can lead to more extensive and expensive repairs down the road.

Seek immediate professional help: If the transmission warning light comes on, it's best to pull over safely and tow your car to a qualified mechanic for diagnosis. Driving with a malfunctioning transmission can cause further damage.

Preventative Maintenance Tips

We asked our in-house technicians about the best ways to avoid transmission problems in your car. 

Regular transmission fluid changes: Refer to your car's owner's manual for recommended fluid change intervals. These intervals can vary depending on your car's make, model, and driving habits.

Use the correct transmission fluid: Never substitute the recommended transmission fluid type. Using the wrong fluid can damage internal components.

Schedule regular maintenance checks: Regular inspections by a qualified mechanic can identify potential transmission issues early on, allowing for prompt intervention before they become major problems.

Avoid harsh driving habits: Aggressive acceleration, frequent towing of heavy loads, and constantly riding the brakes can put excess stress on the transmission.

Stay on top of industry trends: The world of auto repairs is always changing. By reading our article about the future of auto repairs, you can stay ahead of the curve and futureproof your transmission.

Following these preventative measures can significantly extend the lifespan of your transmission and save you money on repairs in the long run.

When to Seek Professional Help

While this article explores some common transmission problems and potential solutions, it's not intended as a substitute for professional diagnosis and repair. Here are some situations where seeking professional help is crucial:

The problem persists after basic checks: If you've checked the transmission fluid level and quality and the problem remains, it's best to consult a mechanic.

Burning smell or unusual noises: A burning odor or strange noises coming from the transmission are signs of potential internal damage requiring immediate professional attention.

Multiple warning lights: If other warning lights illuminate on your dashboard alongside the transmission light, it could indicate a more complex issue requiring a professional diagnosis.

Difficulty shifting gears (manual transmission): If you experience grinding or difficulty changing gears in a manual transmission, it's best to have a mechanic inspect the clutch and other components.

Final Words

Your car's transmission plays a vital role in driving performance. By understanding common transmission troubles and following preventative maintenance practices, you can avoid costly repairs and keep your car running smoothly for years to come. 

If you suspect an issue with your transmission, don't hesitate to seek help from a qualified mechanic. Early detection and intervention are key to maintaining a healthy transmission and a safe driving experience.