A rough or slipping transmission can quickly kill the joy of a good drive.
But that’s not what we’re worried about.
Transmission slipping is a great concern for any car owner as it could quickly escalate into a severe problem.
This Article Contains:
- What Does Transmission Slipping Mean?
- 9 Common Signs Of A Slipping Transmission
- 7 Causes Behind A Slipping Transmission
- How To Fix Transmission Slipping
- 3 FAQs On Transmission Slipping
What Does Transmission Slipping Mean?
Transmission slipping is a problem when your transmission changes from one gear to another, even when you’re not shifting gears.
Likewise, your car may shift into a gear that’s not corresponding with your car’s current speed. When that happens, your engine revs, but there’s no acceleration.
What’s worse is that your car may slip into neutral right after switching gears. Not only is this annoying, but transmission failure can be a serious safety hazard, especially when hitting higher speeds.
Transmission slip is more common in cars with automatic transmission, but a manual transmission vehicle can suffer from it too.
You need a transmission repair as soon as you experience any slip signs.
But how do you recognize that your transmission is slipping?
9 Common Signs Of A Slipping Transmission
Besides your car suddenly shifting gears, other telltale signs of a transmission issue include:
- An illuminated Check Engine Light
- A problem in shifting gears or rough shifting
- Poor acceleration
- The engine revs loudly
- Strange noises from the transmission
- The clutch stops working (manual transmission)
- Burning smell from the clutch
- The reverse gear doesn’t engage
- The transmission falls into a lower gear, causing the engine to rev at a higher RPM
Several reasons could lead to the above signs of a transmission problem.
Let’s go through them next.
7 Causes Behind A Slipping Transmission
Here are the seven typical reasons for a slipping transmission:
1. Low Fluid Or Leaking Transmission Fluid
Did you spot a pink or red fluid puddle underneath your car or on the driveway?
Chances are that there’s a transmission fluid leak.
The transmission leak could occur from a worn gasket, seal, or cooler line. If not addressed, the fluid leak could potentially damage your entire transmission system.
Whether yours uses automatic transmission fluid or you drive a manual transmission vehicle, it’s best to check the fluid level with a dipstick. And if you find the transmission fluid level below the minimum mark, contact a mechanic ASAP to diagnose a possible fluid leak.
2. Burnt Transmission Fluid
In addition to low transmission fluid, you should also look out for burnt fluid.
How do you spot burnt transmission fluid?
It’s easier than you think. Burnt transmission fluid will turn black and smell like burnt toast due to overheating.
Surely, you don’t want that smell in your kitchen or car.
Solution — It’s best to get the fluid replaced.
3. Worn Transmission Bands
The transmission bands and clutches should engage and release synchronously in automatic transmission.
What are transmission bands?
These bands are adjustable circular straps that tighten around drive components to hold them in place. Sometimes, a transmission band may be fine, and adjusting it along with the clutch plates should take care of your vehicles transmission.
But, if there’s a low fluid level or transmission leak, these transmission bands and clutch plates can wear out quickly or burn, causing the transmission to slip. In that case, it’s best to get them replaced.
Important: Your transmission fluid plays a crucial role here. Ensure it’s always topped up to prevent expensive transmission wear and breakdowns.
4. Worn-Out Clutch
If you drive a manual transmission car and your cars transmission slips — most of the time, it’s due to a worn-out clutch. The clutch will wear out with extensive use, and you’ll find it challenging to shift gears.
A rule of thumb is to get a manual transmission clutch checked every 20,000 miles.
5. Worn-out Transmission Gears
Transmission slipping can also result from worn out gears.
If you have low fluid or burnt transmission fluid, it’ll cause the transmission gears to run hot and wear out faster. When you have worn out gears, they’ll fail to engage correctly and cause rough shifting or slippage as you accelerate.
6. Faulty Transmission Solenoid
The transmission solenoid acts like a gatekeeper. It regulates the fluid flow across your transmission’s valve body. If the transmission solenoid breaks down, the irregular flow of transmission fluid through the valve body will disrupt the hydraulic pressure, affecting your gear shifts.
So, if you experience a slipping transmission problem and are sure there’s no fluid leak, the most likely culprit is a transmission solenoid.
7. Faulty Torque Converter
The torque converter translates your engine’s power into torque via hydraulic pressure, which the transmission uses to propel your car.
Like other transmission parts, the torque converters can also wear out over time. Moreover, enough transmission fluid should flow through the torque converter for it to function correctly.
If there’s low transmission fluid or if the torque converters fail, not only will you struggle with the manual or automatic transmission slipping, but you might also experience:
- A burning smell or smoking
- Difficulty in gear change
- Jumping gears while driving
- A blowout
You shouldn’t ignore these issues and get a mechanic to fix the transmission slippage soon.
Let’s find out how a mechanic will fix a slipping transmission issue.
How To Fix Transmission Slipping
Fixing problems like a transmission fluid leak or replacing broken bands, clutch, and gears requires some expertise and is best left to the professionals. Additionally, fixing a torque converter or transmission solenoid should strictly be done by an experienced mechanic.
Here are some fixes for manual or automatic transmission slipping:
1. Check And Top-Off Low Fluid Level
One of the easiest ways to fix and prevent a slipping transmission is to monitor the transmission fluid level.
Once a month, open the hood and check the fluid level with the engine running. If low, top it off with the recommended transmission fluid mentioned in the owner’s manual.
Note: Adding the wrong transmission fluid can cause severe damage or transmission failure.
2. Replace Burnt Or Worn Out Fluid
Here’s how a mechanic will do it:
- Jack up your vehicle up and unbolt the transmission fluid pan
- Place a container underneath to collect the dirty fluid
- Remove the drain plug and let the fluid drain completely
- Inspect the filter and gaskets and replace them if necessary
- Reinstall the plug and fill in the new transmission fluid
- Start the vehicle and check for leaks
3. Replace Part(s) Causing Fluid Leak
If your transmission is leaking fluid, the mechanic will first find the source.
The leak could occur from:
- The transmission pan gasket
- Seals and other gaskets
- Transmission lines
- Valves and solenoid
- Cracks and other damages
Once diagnosed, they’ll perform the transmission repairs or replace the required parts. Depending on the cause of the transmission trouble, the mechanic may also suggest replacing the clutch and other gears.
And if nothing else works, they’ll need to replace your entire transmission.
A simple transmission fluid change can cost between $80 to $250. A more complex transmission repair can range from $1,400 to $5,800.
Now you know what causes a transmission slip and the signs to watch out for.
Let’s move on to some transmission slipping questions.
3 FAQs On Transmission Slipping
Here are answers to three commonly asked questions regarding transmission slippage:
1. Can I Drive With A Slipping Transmission?
No. You should stop driving at the first sign of a transmission slip.
Transmission slipping means that your vehicle has become unreliable and can jeopardize your road safety. Continuing to drive can cause more damage to the transmission system.
Your best bet is to quickly pull over and call a technician for a transmission service.
2. Is There A Way To Prevent Transmission Slipping?
Regular checkups and maintenance is a good way to prevent a slipping transmission. Have your fluid and filter replaced every 30,000 to 50,000 miles or every 2 years — whichever is earlier.
Also, regularly check your fluid level and quality to ensure that it keeps the transmission running smoothly.
3. What Happens If The Wrong Transmission Fluid Goes In My Car?
Adding automatic transmission fluid to a manual transmission car or vice versa can result in transmission failure.
Some of the possible failure signs are:
- Burning smell from the transmission or hood
- The car slips out of gear
- Difficulty in shifting gears
- Grinding noise while driving
- Noisy sound while in neutral
- The clutch locks up
- Check engine light is on
If you suspect you have used the wrong fluid, stop driving immediately. Call a professional to remove the fluid. If you’ve already driven your car for a few miles with the incorrect fluid, you might need to replace your transmission.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of problems your vehicle will experience with a slipping transmission. Whether you drive a manual or automatic transmission vehicle, if you suspect a slip, stop driving immediately.
And if you’re not sure where to get the slip diagnosed, reach out to AutoNation Mobile Service.
AutoNation Mobile Service is a convenient mobile vehicle auto repair and maintenance solution that offers convenient online booking and competitive prices.
Contact us to get the correct diagnosis for your slipping transmission right in your driveway.