broken down car with frustrated man

Creek grind slam slam slam. Check engine light! Uh oh.

Unless you’re a car guru, we know what you’re thinking:

Is that my engine? Brakes? Something else I don’t know the name of?

When you drive a vehicle, any abnormal noise can be startling. If you hear a grinding, humming, or buzzing sound it could be because of your transmission.

There are other signs of a bad transmission that can help you figure out what’s going on with your car. 

We have mechanics, so why is it important to recognize the signs of a bad transmission? A simple transmission issue, like low fluid, can be easily fixed. If you ignore the warning signs and put it off, it can turn into a much more problematic transmission issue, like transmission failure or a blown transmission!

1. Odd Sounds

One big clue that you have a bad transmission is a new noise. 

If it is noisy in neutral or during gear shifts, it is possible that the transmission is the culprit.

Drive an automatic? If you have a bad transmission you’ll possibly hear a whiny or buzzing sound when the gears shift. The car may also react and feel a bit wobbly. 

Drivers of manual cars will feel and hear a grind each time they switch gears. 

These sounds may not mean you need to replace your transmission or have major repairs done. It could be something as simple as worn bearings. 

2. Manual Car Won’t Shift into Gear

A warning sign that you may have transmission issues is when your car won’t shift into gear. 

If you have an automatic, you may have issues putting the car in drive or reverse. It may create a grinding noise from the transmission. 

Those who choose to drive manual may have issues with the clutch engaging and the transmission reacting to the motion. Stick-shifters going from 1st to 2nd may get stuck, with the transmission not responding. Or even worse, going into stop or reverse!

Rough shifts can also be indicative of a transmission issue. 

Issues with a dragging clutch may be caused by a bad transmission, but could also be a problem with the clutch itself like being too loose.

3. Check Engine Light 

The check engine light can show up for a variety of reasons, but still can be a sign of transmission issues. Don’t fret just yet, but it’s worth a look. 

A diagnostic tool will be helpful if you want to isolate the issue. If you’re not sure what the check engine light means, bring your car into a reputable professional like A Plus Transmission & Auto Repair.

New cars usually have software that pinpoints the issue, like when it tells you that a specific tire has low air pressure. 

It seems worthy to note that the transmission can still have problems without the check engine light coming on. 

Several things could be the culprit here, but most revolve around your transmission. It could be something as simple as low transmission fluid. Make sure to get it fixed before the problem gets worse!

4. Car Shaking

Is your car shaking? The shaking, especially while changing gears or in neutral, can be indicative of a bad transmission. When shifting gears in an automatic, you may feel it roughly settle into gear. 

In a manual car, you may feel a shaking with a grinding sound to accompany it, while manually shifting gears.  

Shaking can also be an issue with tire pressure, so make sure to check those out before you decide that the transmission may be the origin. 

5. Transmission and Gear Slipping

A sure sign that something is wrong with your transmission is something known as gear slipping.

Slipping gears is an occurrence when you’re driving and the car shifts into another gear. It can be terrifying to be driving down the road and then have your car gear slip into neutral! 

Gear slips can occur after extended wear and tear to the transmission in both automatic cars from reverse to neutral, etc. or in manual cars where it can slip from any gear back to neutral. Eventually, the transmission won’t engage. 

If your transmission slips, your car may stop working. It could be something as simple to fix as low fluid levels or a clogged pump or something that requires much more intricate repairs (or a new transmission!).

6. A Sweet Burning Smell

If your car smells like its burning, it could be a multitude of things. Regardless of the issue in hand, it is imperative to get your car checked by a mechanic ASAP.

A burning sweet smell can indicate that your transmission is overheating. What you’re smelling is the burning of transmission fluid which helps the transmission operate smoothly and aids in cooling. 

7. Leaking Bright Liquid is a Sure Sign of a Bad Transmission

Cars use something called transmission fluid which helps the transmission operate smoothly and avoid excess wear. The transmission fluid isn’t consumed like engine oil, so when some fluid is lost it can mean serious problems such as a bad transmission.

Drive an automatic? You’ll notice the transmission fluid in your driveway, it is bright red and looks and smells sweet like cherry juice. 

Check the transmission yourself or have a mechanic look at it to see if the liquid is dark and burnt. If the fluid levels get too low, you can blow out your transmission. 

Think Something Else May Be Wrong With Your Car?

Now that you know the top 7 signs of a bad transmission, you can probably make a good guess whether or not your transmission is the offender behind your car issues. 

At Go Motors we can guide you to pinpoint your car issue, but at the end of the day, if you’re unsure about the noises your car is making, your best bet is to see a mechanic.