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Signs That Your Automatic Transmission Needs Service

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The new 10-speed automatic transmission found in the upcoming Camaro ZL1 is reportedly faster than the Porsche PDK
Photo: General Motors

Every vehicle part needs service eventually, and your car’s transmission is no exception. This incredibly intricate part is vital to your vehicle’s functions, safety, and efficiency, so it’s important to recognize the symptoms of an issue before those minor signs become expensive problems. Keep an eye out for these signs.

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Shaky shifting

Most of the time, your vehicle’s automatic transmission will provide a smooth ride. If your car is jerking or shaking during gear shifts, check out the transmission fluid. It may need to be refilled or replaced.

Leaky liquid

Low transmission fluid can cause all sorts of expensive damage to your transmission and engine. If your transmission fluid is chronically low, or if you spot bright red transmission fluid on the ground, check out your vehicle. There could be a loose bolt, cracked gasket, or damaged tubing. Constantly refilling the fluid won’t fix the underlying problems, so have your vehicle checked by a specialist.

Faltering fluid

The transmission fluid doesn’t need to leak to cause problems. Check the transmission fluid with a dipstick, looking for cloudy, particle-filled, or burnt fluid. If this is the case, have your transmission flushed.

Strange smells

Leaky transmission fluid can sizzle on your car’s hot engine. It has a distinct, off-putting scent that’s different from burning engine oil. Instead, it smells like burning rubber. This industrial-strength stink can also stem from dirty transmission fluid, which can gum up your transmission the same way that grimy oil can damage your engine.

Getting into gear

When your transmission doesn’t slide right into gear, it’s time for a checkup. Low fluid levels can make it hard to put your car into drive or reverse. Further, if your vehicle takes a long time to accelerate, your car’s transmission may not be relaying power properly. That means it could have damaged bands. Additionally, if your car is failing to switch gears while driving, it may take a long time for it to coast or display an RPM over 3500. Whichever abnormality you’re experiencing, have your vehicle serviced.

Noisy neutral

To check the transmission’s health, try shifting it into neutral. If you hear clicks, ticks, groans, and whines, it indicates worn gear teeth and failing bearings. Take it in for service before bigger issues arise.

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Source: Ace Auto, Automotive Olympia