5 signs your transmission is failing

By Kristina Proffitt

A vehicle's transmission is one of its most important and structurally complicated components, making repairs or total replacements very expensive. Learn the warning signs here so you can have it repaired before needing a new transmission entirely.

1. Fluid leaks. This is a tell-tale sign your transmission needs attention. If you see pools of fluid on your driveway, take it into the shop and have a mechanic take a look. Your transmission could be leaking fluid because of a worn gasket, damaged bell housing, or an out of balance drive shaft.

2. Unusual smells. Cars all have their different smells, but you can tell your transmission is going if you can smell a a slightly sweet or tart odor. If you start to smell a burning odor, that's when it's time to take immediate action. A burning smell means you need to have your fluid changed because if your transmission fluid is burnt, your transmission is burning as well. This will mean a complete transmission rebuild.

3. Strange sounds. A failing transmission will sound differently for a manual car than it will for an automatic. If you drive a manual, you will notice a grinding noise when you shift gears. In an automatic, you will hear a whining, buzzing, or humming sound. If you experience these sounds, it's a good idea to have a professional check out your vehicle.

4. Warning light is activated. Many people ignore the warning lights that appear on the dashboard, but they are there to alert you of serious issues with your vehicle. A common indicator light that signifies an issue with the transmission is the temperature light. This means your transmission fluid is hotter than normal, which is causing your transmission to operate at a higher than normal temperature. If you see this light come on, contact a mechanic and have them take a look.

5. Delayed movement. Transmissions are designed to go into the correct gear every time. Any hesitation is a sign that something is wrong. If you see a delay or lack in response when you shift from park to drive, or feel a sudden lurch after a long pause, this means your transmission is slipping. Normally, cars should shift easily into each gear, so if this is not happening it's time to see a mechanic.

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