Top 5 Most Common Reasons for Transmission Problems

Changes in performance like difficulty shifting gears or strange sounds can trigger alarm bells in your head. While these are good indications of transmission problems, there’s often a relatively simple and common repair that will get your vehicle running smoothly again.

Keep more serious and costly repairs at bay by having your vehicle inspected sooner rather than later — and if one of these common reasons for transmission problems is what’s impacting your car, AAMCO Louisville’s mechanics will get you back on the road in no time.

1. Dirty or Old Transmission Fluid

One of the biggest impacts on transmission health is fresh fluid. As transmission fluid circulates through the system, it keeps moving parts lubricated and generates the necessary pressure to allow gears to fully engage — and stay engaged. Over time, it also picks up dirt and debris that will gradually make fluid thicker and less effective.

If transmission fluid becomes too old or overly contaminated, it can cause many of the most common transmission problems, including difficulty shifting gears, slipping gears, and grinding.

Schedule Transmission Fluid Replacement Services at Regular Intervals

Transmission fluid plays a big role in how well the system operates — and it will gradually become less effective with time and use, no matter what you do. This means it needs to be changed at regular intervals, based on your vehicle’s specifications, your driving habits, and the environment where you live. Check your owner’s manual for manufacturer-recommended maintenance intervals.

2. Low Transmission Fluid

At the first sign of transmission trouble, pop the hood of your car and check the transmission fluid level. Like many of your vehicle’s systems, the transmission is a closed system, meaning fluid stays inside. Low transmission fluid is another common cause of issues like difficulty shifting gears and grinding or whining gears. If you notice the fluid level has become low, it’s a strong indication there’s a leak in the system that needs to be repaired.

When Fluid is Low, the Source of a Leak Needs to Be Diagnosed & Repaired

Diagnosing the source of any fluid leak in your vehicle can be tricky and is best left to a professional mechanic. It’s also an urgent repair that should be handled as soon as possible to avoid further damage to your car’s transmission.

3. Stuck Transmission Solenoids

As transmission fluid circulates through the system, it’s controlled by solenoids, which are valves that open and close to direct where the fluid goes and when. This process is essential for smooth gear shifts and to keep gears engaged while you drive. Over time, especially as the transmission fluid picks up contaminants, the solenoids will pick up dirt and grime that can eventually cause them to become stuck open or closed.

Without Proper Flow of Fluid, Gears Cannot Stay Properly Engaged

When a transmission solenoid is stuck shut from dirt, grime, and sludge, it prevents the flow of fluid to that part of the system. As the driver, you’ll experience this as difficulty or an inability to use certain gears or stay in gear. Until any faulty solenoids are replaced, each drive will be more difficult and you’ll risk causing extra wear or damage to important parts in the transmission.

4. Clogged Transmission Filter

Just like the engine and several other essential systems in your vehicle, the transmission has a filter that helps keep contaminants in fluid out of circulation. Over time, this filter can become clogged and needs to be changed. Typically this will be done during a transmission fluid replacement service, so if you’re due — or overdue — for fresh transmission fluid, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your mechanic to have both the fluid and filter replaced.

When Fluid is Blocked By a Dirty Filter, it Causes Extra Wear & Performance Issues

Solenoids aren’t the only part of the transmission that aids in fluid flow. If the transmission filter is clogged with contaminants, it can block proper flow of transmission fluid, making it difficult or impossible to shift certain gears. If can also cause similar problems to when you’re dealing with low transmission fluid, including grinding and overheating.

5. Worn Gear Parts

The gears in your car’s transmission, whether manual or automatic, will wear out gradually over time. This slow shift in how your car performs can make it tricky to tell when it’s time to have certain gear parts replaced, but many common transmission problems are caused by or come alongside worn gear parts, including difficulty shifting gears, frequent slipping gears, and grinding sounds.

Rough Driving Habits Can Put Extra Wear on Gears

To keep gears healthy as long as possible, pay attention to your driving habits. Aggressive acceleration and braking can add extra wear and tear to parts in the transmission. While you can’t always avoid city driving, you can ease off a lead foot. Not only will this help extend the life of your car’s transmission, but also other key systems like the engine and brakes.

Transmission Trouble? Trust AAMCO Louisville’s Mechanics

No matter what transmission problems you’re experiencing, the expert mechanics at your local AAMCO Louisville auto shop are here to help. As leaders in transmissions and Total Car Care, we’re here to help you keep all of your car’s systems operating properly. Schedule your appointment with us online today!

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