Why my transmission works funny? 5 common automatic transmission symptoms you should not ignore

Posted by HJL_ADMIN 1 on

The automatic transmission is a great innovation.

We rarely feel how the automatic transmission shifts and works when we drive on the way.

While we step on the acceleration, the transmission determines the speed and shifts the proper gears for us.

We all know how complicate is our transmission and since it is so critical for our vehicle, in this article, let’s talk about the common problems and symptoms that may happen on your car.

Many people are not familiar with how to take care of the transmission system and leave the symptoms untreated.

At the end, it leads to the system crashed down and cost thousands to repair the transmission.

So, let’s dive into the most common problems that may happen to your transmission.


There are 5 common potential problems that may damage your transmission if you ignore some tiny maintenance.

5 common potential problems that may damage your transmission

#1 Dirty Transmission Fluid or low fluid level caused by leaking, aging, or contamination

The automatic transmission needs the fluid to generate the hydraulic pressure to activate the movements inside the transmission.
Without the proper amount of debris-free and clean fluid, it will cause the overheated, slip, surge and transmission ground down.


The symptom of the low or dirty transmission fluid is you may sense a burning smell.
Very common the reason is the transmission fluid is overheated or the level is too low.
The fluid plays a big role as a lubrication to make sure the complex system runs properly.

When this lubricating ability diminishes with time and mileage, it will increase the friction between all the parts.

The friction will create the debris and cause the damage.

Moreover, the burning smell could be happened when you add the wrong type of fluid into your vehicle.

So, our suggestion here is to have auto shop to check your transmission when you smell the burning.
If you know how to do, you can also check the fluid level by yourself.



#2 Gears shifting response delay

The delayed shifting response is defined when the duration of shifting from Park into a moving gear.

If the duration of the shifting takes more than seconds and up to one minute, something is wrong with your transmission.

The delayed response of shifting gears is a warning sign that your transmission needs help.

The low transmission fluid, which we just talked about couple minutes ago, mostly is the main reason to cause the shifting delay.

Except that, the failed solenoid is also the cause that will cause your transmission to fail.

#3 Slipping Transmission

Slipping transmission is quite common to see when the transmission goes wrong.

It’s pretty easy to identify if your transmission is slipping, especially for an automatic car.
The engine will suddenly go from a low rumble to a high-pitched whine; or the RPMs will increase dramatically even the driving speed is the same.

You will feel the transmission slipping from one gear to the next which is supposed to glide smoothly as it should.

You may also have difficulty to shit the gear and accompanied with strange sounds.

Causes of transmission slipping includes:

  1. Low transmission fluid
    Yes, you not miss-look.
    Once again the low or burnt transmission fluid is the main cause.

The fluid level shall be checked periodically; otherwise the low fluid can result in overheating and lead to the deficiency in creating the hydraulic pressure.

When the situation goes worse, the fluid is burnt and it will accompany with the smell of burnt toast.

  1. Failed solenoid
    This delicate electro-hydraulic valve plays big role to control the flow of fluid throughout the transmission.
    Once it is broken, it will cause the failure to control the fluid volume to the system.

You may watch my before video in which I talked about how the failed solenoid cost me thousands to repair my Honda Accord.



  1. Torque converter faulty
    The converter wears down over time and blocks the flow of fluid which leads to the slipping problem.

The slipping transmission is dangerous as it can lead to the accidents or further damage to the whole system. So don’t ice it and get your mechanic to have a thorough check is the best way to go.


#4 Clutches worn in the manual transmission system

Well, I know there are less & less cars are equipped with the manual transmission now, but if you’re the one who owned the manual transmission, pay attention on this.

A worn clutch is a common problem in manual transmission.

Just like other car parts, the clutch wears due to mechanical error which may be caused by the fluid leak in the clutch master cylinder.
Or sometimes due to drivers don’t shift properly.

Example, the clutch will quickly burn up if we don’t release the foot from the clutch when shifting.

Another common problem in the manual transmission is the worn gear synchronizes, which we commonly called “synchros”.
The synchros makes the gears you are about to shift into spin at the same speed and create a smooth & seamless shifting experience.
If we leave the worn gear synchros untreated, it can cause worse transmission failure.


#5 Rough shifting

As we mentioned in the beginning, we won’t feel any gear shifting while we’re driving.

Thing is when the transmission goes wrong, there will be funny noise like “clucking” or “thudding” when you shift the gears.
Also you will feel the heavy vibration throughout the car under acceleration, especially when you drive up a hill.

Whenever these symptoms occur, there must be some concerns to your transmission.
Usually, it’s impossible to determine the causes of rough shifting unless you visit the auto shops for checking.
Either the transmission fluid is low, the computer sensor or solenoid is failed can cause the funny noise.

Without us to emphasize again, get your vehicle serviced as early as possible.

Signs of a failing transmission
Alright these are the common problems which may happen to our automatic transmission.

With time goes by, the transmission system just like other car parts wear over time.

So next, I want to go over some symptoms and signs of the transmission problems.

With your attention to these signs, you can catch out the problems and figure them out early.

With that being said, let’s see the No.1 symptom.

#1 Car shaking at any time.

#2 Gear shifting delays as we just mentioned

#3 Transmission slipping or jumping on acceleration

#4 A burning toast-like burnt smell comes from under the hood

#5 Leaking fluid stains under your car

#6 Dirty or foul smell on the dipstick when you check the fluid


If you feel these symptoms happened to your car, it is very important to bring your car to the mechanic for the further check.

We know many problems normally start off small and our transmission system are the same.

Ignoring the signals will lead to the worse problem and higher repair cost.


Do you ever encounter any transmission failure problems? What’s your 1st reaction and how do you fix it?

Contact us to share with us your experience.

Alright my friend, I hope you enjoy this article.


Related Reading
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Ways to Longer Camshaft Variable Valve Timing VVT Gear Lifetime

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