6 Signs Your Car Needs Transmission Repair

car broken down in san diego due to transmission problems 

The transmission is one of the most important components of your vehicle; it’s responsible for transferring the proper amount of power from the engine to the wheels. It’s also one of the most complicated vehicle systems, with both manual and automatic transmissions containing hundreds of interconnected parts. 

Regular service and fluid changes are necessary to keep your transmission in tip-top working order, but eventually, repairs may be required. Fortunately, you can minimize damage and repair costs by bringing your car into a repair shop that specializes in transmissions at the first sign of trouble. Here are 6 signs you probably need a car transmission repair:

1. Fluid leaks

Unlike motor oil, transmission fluid isn’t consumed or burned up during use, so if your fluid level is running low, it’s almost always caused by a leak. And if your car doesn’t have a specific transmission fluid indicator on the dash, you can diagnose via the driveway stain—transmission fluid is easy to identify due to its bright red color and slightly sweet smell. Addressing a fluid leak as soon as possible is crucial to prevent damage to unlubricated parts.

2. Warning light activation

The sensors that trigger the “check engine” light on your dash can recognize vibrations and other early symptoms of transmission failure that you can’t see or feel, although an illuminated light doesn’t necessarily mean the transmission is the issue. But just in case, it’s important to have your car diagnosed to prevent more complicated transmission repairs down the road.

3. Burning odor

If you smell a burning odor when you exit your vehicle, it most likely means the transmission fluid needs to be replaced. Old or low fluid causes the transmission gears to overheat due to excessive friction, which can produce its own, slightly different burning smell. If the scent is faint and you want to make sure before bringing your car in, you can always do a dipstick test: if the transmission fluid is reddish and clear, the odor might be coming from another vehicle component. But if it the fluid is brownish or opaque, a skilled transmission mechanic needs to be your next stop.

4. Odd sounds

Manual and automatic transmissions respond differently when they are malfunctioning, but strange sounds are an early indicator of trouble with both. Manual transmissions might make abrupt grinding noises when shifting into a new gear, while automatic transmissions might give off whining, buzzing, or humming sounds when repairs are needed. 

5. Delayed engagement

Transmissions are designed to move into the correct gear every time, so any hesitation is a sure sign something is wrong. In manual transmissions, the car’s engine might rev up but the car won’t move as fast as the engine is running. With automatic transmissions, there might be a long pause after shifting from “park” into “drive,” where the car revs with gas but doesn’t move forward as it should. This type of delayed engagement is not only a vehicle concern, but a safety concern as well, so it’s best to bring your car in for an inspection immediately.   

6. Problems with shifting gears

Irregularity when shifting gears is a certain sign your transmission is in trouble. Problems can include falling out of gear while driving, gears shifting for no apparent reason, or noticeable clunking or thudding sounds when shifting gears. Difficulty getting the car up to speed could also be a gear-related problem that should be looked at as soon as possible by a transmission repair specialist. 

Notice any strange sounds, sights, smells, or sensations with your transmission?

At the first sign of transmission trouble, bring your car to a professional auto repair shop that specializes in transmissions. All-purpose auto shops might be qualified to handle basic maintenance and minor repairs, but they could miss something a specialist would catch. For peace of mind, trust your car to the specialists at Ruffner Transmission.

We understand the complexity of transmission systems and we can expertly diagnose and repair and issues before they become major problems. If you notice any of the signs listed above, give us a call or stop in today.