Fluid Fiasco: Diagnosing and Next Steps for Transmission Leaks

From small drips to big puddles, car fluid leaks of any size can cause problems. Like many of your car’s systems, the transmission relies on adequate fluid. When the transmission is operating as it should, fluid provides both lubrication and hydraulic pressure. That means you’ll notice more signs than just fluid drips under your vehicle if the transmission fluid is leaking.

Let’s take a closer look at what symptoms may indicate a transmission fluid leak and what to do next once you suspect there’s a leak that needs repairing.

How to Tell Your Transmission Fluid is Leaking

Though you may notice puddles or drip spots underneath your car after parking, that’s not the only sign you’ll encounter if your vehicle has a transmission fluid leak. Each time you drive, you’re more likely to also notice changes in performance, such as difficulty shifting gears, new sounds, or even a burning smell.

Use a Transmission Dipstick to Check Fluid Level & Condition

Depending on your vehicle, there may be a dipstick to check the level and condition of the transmission fluid. Locate the transmission and look for a handle similar to what you use to check the engine oil. This allows you to check for fluid that’s low or overly contaminated and therefore needs to be replaced. Anytime transmission fluid becomes low, it’s an indication there’s a leak in the system.

transmission fluid leak

Rough Shifting or Slipping Gears

It should feel smooth and easy each time you shift gears — and there should be only brief pauses as your automatic transmission shifts. Facilitating each gear shift and ensuring gears fully engage depends on having adequate transmission fluid in the system. If you notice poor acceleration, sudden hesitation, or higher RPMs, it may mean the transmission is slipping due to low fluid.

Humming or Buzzing from the Transmission

While a number of sounds can indicate a transmission problem, humming can be an indication of low transmission fluid. This can sometimes sound more like buzzing or roaring. Most likely, there’s a worn seal or internal sealing surface, which is causing a transmission fluid leak. The pressure released from that leak can cause the new sounds you hear.

A Burning Smell While Driving

Part of the role of transmission fluid is preventing overheating by minimizing friction. If you smell burning while driving, it may mean the transmission is overheating. The most likely cause of this is fluid that’s become too low due to a leak. Not only does the leak need to be located and repaired, but a transmission fluid flush may be helpful to remove all of the burnt fluid and contaminants.

What to Do When You Suspect Your Transmission is Leaking

A leaky transmission can quickly turn into more serious repairs. What steps should you take when you notice the signs of low transmission fluid? And which repair services might you have to deal with? By responding in the right way, you can save money and stress — and likely get back on the road again in no time.

Take it Easy and Avoid Driving When Possible

In general, avoid driving unless absolutely necessary until you can get to a mechanic for diagnostics and repairs. Aggressive driving habits and towing heavy loads will put more strain on your transmission. If you have to continue driving, take it easy and minimize types of driving that are hardest on the transmission. If you notice an increase in signs of trouble from your transmission, it’s time to pull over and schedule a tow service to the nearest AAMCO.

Schedule a Transmission Reseal Service

When caught early, a transmission fluid leak can likely be fixed with a reseal service. This ensures the transmission’s seals, gaskets and any other surfaces that may allow fluid to escape are repaired or replaced. Once the system is resealed, fresh fluid can be added so that your transmission performs at its best again.

If More Damage is Done, You May Need Another Transmission Repair

Especially if a leak is allowed to continue for a while before being repaired, there may be more extensive damage in the transmission. This damage can come from improper pressurization and increased friction from a lack of lubrication. In this case, any worn or damaged parts will need to be replaced — and if damage is extensive enough, your mechanic may recommend a transmission rebuild or replacement.

Fix a Leaky Transmission By Visiting Your Local AAMCO

Rest assured your car’s transmission is in good hands with your local AAMCO Louisville’s mechanics. We know transmissions like the back of our hands. If you’re dealing with transmission trouble, we’re here to accurately diagnose and efficiently repair your vehicle so you can drive away with confidence.

Pin It on Pinterest