Transmission vs Engine Problems

Transmission vs engine problems: how do you tell the difference? Often an issue with one seems like an issue with the other. And if you aren’t sure when you take your car into the shop, they might charge you an arm and a leg for “diagnostic fees.”

Fortunately, we’re about to put this confusion to rest once and for all. We know all about the differences between engine vs transmission problems. And we’re going to share this with you in detail in the following, comprehensive guide.

Before you head to the repair shop, troubleshoot your car problems with this checklist.

Engine Problems That Seem Like Transmission Problems

First, let’s look at some of the engine symptoms that are often mistaken for transmission issues. Here are a few of the strange noises, smells, and other indicators that point to an engine problem, not a transmission problem.

Weird Noises

Both engine problems and transmission problems can cause strange sounds. Those that indicate an engine problem sound like hissing or popping, and sometimes whirring. Backfires can occur from engine trouble, too.

Delayed Acceleration (Hesitation)


Hesitation right after shifting can be a transmission issue, like the gears slipping. But if your car seems to have trouble accelerating all the time, it’s more likely an engine problem.

Transmission Problems That Seem Like Engine Problems

Despite the oft-misdaiagnosed engine issues above, sometimes, the problem really is your transmission. Here are some situations that indicate a transmission problem.

Weird Noises

Transmission problems can make strange noises, too. These often sound like humming or whining. Clunking is a common sign of transmission trouble as well.

Loud Engine 

Is your car very loud when idling or accelerating? If it’s louder than it used to be, or loud in general, have your transmission fixed.

Shifting Problems

The most common and obvious indicator of a malfunctioning transmission is shifting problems. If the gears are slipping, sticking, or grinding, have your transmission serviced.

Issues That Could Be The Engine Or the Transmission

There are some symptoms of transmission vs engine problems that are the same. On their own, you won’t be able to tell whether it’s the engine, the transmission, or some other component that’s causing the trouble. However, if you notice these signs in combination with those above, it helps confirm the cause.

Check Engine Light Is On

The check engine light comes on for a variety of reasons besides engine trouble. Also, these reasons are different for every car.

It could be something as simple as a reminder to take your car in for maintenance. To know for sure, take it to a qualified repair shop, like J and L Automotive Repairs and Service, Inc.

Burning Smell

This is another sign that can indicate a number of different problems. However, if it happens along with the other symptoms of engine or transmission problems, it’s probably related.

Transmission vs Engine Problems: How to Tell the Difference

Remember, being prepared for your visit to the auto repair shop can save you a lot of time and money. Use this checklist to diagnose your transmission vs engine issues prior to your visit to avoid getting nickel-and-dimed.

Need some more automotive advice? Check out our Auto Car blog for more car troubleshooting tips.