Category Archives: bad car transmission

car with broken transmission

How can I tell if my transmission is going bad?


You need your car’s automatic transmission to get down the road. After all, the automatic transmission shifts gears when a car accelerates and decelerates. When the transmission fails, you and your car aren’t going anywhere.

A failing transmission is never welcome, but there is good news. Often, signs of a failing transmission show up early, giving car owners the chance to get the transmission repaired or replaced BEFORE it breaks down.   

Dirty or leaking fluid

Clean, full transmission fluid is an essential part of a healthy transmission. Driving a car with low or dirty fluid (typically a dark brown color) for an extended amount of time can leave a car susceptible to transmission failure. If you see transmission fluid under the car, contact a mechanic to find out if there is a failing gasket and to prevent more damage from being done.

If there is no leak, check your transmission fluid periodically to make sure it is not dirty or low. Turn your car on and let it run for a few minutes.  With the car in park, pull the transmission dipstick up and wipe it with a clean rag.  If the fluid on the rag is brown, schedule an appointment for a transmission flush.  On average, the transmission fluid should be replaced every two years or 30,000 miles.

Clunking & Grinding

If your car clunks or grinds when shifting, it’s time to contact a mechanic to get the transmission inspected. The problem may be as simple as dirty fluid or could be as complicated as a failing transmission part. Either way, an experienced mechanic can diagnose the problem and recommend the transmission repair that keeps the car shifting and you on the road.

Warning light

Most cars have a dashboard warning light that signals there is an issue with the transmission. The exact look of the light varies; most transmission warning lights resemble a gear with some kind of symbol inside it (i.e. thermometer, exclamation point, etc.) The appearance of the symbol doesn’t matter, but the signal does. When the warning light comes on, contact a mechanic immediately to diagnose the problem and give you information on a repair.

Slipping, Surges & Hesitation

Since an automatic transmission is responsible for going through the gears, it makes sense that the most common signals of transmission failure occur during shifting. Motor surges, hesitations, and slipping gears can all be signs that the transmission fluid needs to be changed or there is a more serious problem. Don’t drive around with any of these signs for too long, which can cause more damage. Schedule an appointment to get the transmission shifting correctly, and to keep you on the road.