Car Help 101: How To Diagnose Transmission Problems

The transmission is the part of your car that houses the gearbox, clutch and the rest of the components which allow your vehicle to shift and translate the rotational movement of your engine into efficient movement for the wheels of your vehicle. Manual and automatic transmissions are quite different beasts, with the former being much simpler than the latter. Shaking, an inability to shift into certain gears or the smell of burning transmission fluid indicate that their could be an issue with your car’s transmission and that you may need to take it into a local auto shop for repair advice.

Before you do, however. Here are a couple of things to know about your car’s transmission and how to diagnose if it is having problems. First, if your car has an automatic transmission then the transmission is one of the most complicated components in the vehicle (and also one of the most expensive to replace). So, the next time something seems a bit off with your car you had better hope that it isn’t a transmission problems, because you could be looking at shelling out the big bucks at an auto shop for a repair if so.

Your car's transmission is a complicated piece of machinery and potentially expensive to replace.

The first way to tell that your transmission may be having issues is to use your nose. If you smell a faint burning smell when your engine is running, it could be burning transmission fluid. Transmission fluid (like most engine fluids) provides lubrication and keeps the moving parts in the transmission from clashing against each other or overheating and thus breaking down. Check your transmission fluid. It should be red in color and fell faintly sweet. If your fluid is getting low often, it could indicate a leak. Either way, a burning smell or leaky fluid should indicate that you need to head to your local auto shop for some repair advice.

Another indication that your car’s transmission may need repair or replacement are loud noises or shaking in neutral. This may be solved by replacing the transmission fluid or topping it off, but if the problem persists it may mean that something more mechanically involved is amiss and you should visit your local auto shop to have it checked out.

A final indication of transmission problems is gear slipping. In a properly functioning car, your transmission should stay in the gear in which you have shifted (or which the automatic transmission has shifted into). If your car pops out of gear while you are driving it is a sure sign that your transmission needs work and you will need to get repair advice at the auto shop.

Transmission problems are no fun, especially because they can potentially be very costly. As always, the best way to avoid problems is to get regular maintenance done and not to put your vehicle through undue stress.