Mechanic Tips

12 Signs Your Transmission Might Be Failing

Every driver relies heavily on their vehicle’s transmission system. This crucial component ensures your car changes gears smoothly, providing both power and efficiency. Yet, the nuances of driving in Australia’s unique terrain and weather can put extra strain on your transmission. But how do you spot the warning signs? We’re delving deep to bring you 12 vital signs that suggest your transmission might be up for some much-needed attention.

1. Slipping Gears

If you’ve ever been driving and suddenly felt as if the gear slipped for no apparent reason, it’s unnerving, right? This sensation often hints at an issue within the transmission system. Possible culprits include:

  • A worn-out gear synchroniser in manual transmissions.
  • Faults within the hydraulic system for automatic ones.

2. Delayed or Harsh Shifts

Smooth gear transitions are a driver’s dream. When you start noticing a jarring or delayed shift, it’s a red flag. Over time, the transmission fluid might degrade, or there could be issues related to RPM fluctuation causing this hiccup.

3. Unusual Noises

Your car should purr, not whine. If you’re hearing odd sounds like whininghumming, or even clunking, especially when the vehicle is in neutral, it’s high time to check on your transmission.

4. Fluid Leaks and Low Fluid Levels

Transmission fluid is the lifeblood of your system. Spot a mysterious puddle under your car? Time for a check-up. Ensure you:

  • Look out for reddish fluid (that’s your transmission fluid).
  • Use the dipstick check method to measure fluid levels.
  • Examine the vehicle undercarriage for leaks.

5. Warning Lights

Never ignore those dashboard lights; they’re there for a reason! A lit-up transmission warning light should prompt a quick visit to your mechanic or a place like Brendale Automotive, known for its expertise in addressing such issues.

6. Transmission Overheating

Australia’s scorching summers can lead to an overheating transmission. Keep an eye on the cooling system and consider frequent checks during hotter months. Factors to monitor:

  • The health of the radiator.
  • Efficiency of the cooling system.
  • Any unusual temperature spikes.

7. Vehicle Doesn’t Move Despite Shifting

Imagine shifting to ‘drive’, and your car simply refuses to budge. Rather exasperating! This can be due to:

  • A malfunctioning clutch engagement.
  • Issues with the transmission linkage.
  • Problems related to drive mode.

8. Grinding or Shaking Sensation

That uncomfortable juddering or grinding, particularly in manual transmissions, can be an SOS from your vehicle. Causes can be:

  • Torque converter issues.
  • Hitches within the gear system.
  • Overall vehicle vibrations.

9. Unresponsive When Switching Modes

Nothing’s more alarming than your vehicle not responding when you shift from park to drive or reverse. Dive into:

  • Possible transmission shift solenoid problems.
  • Low hydraulic pressure.
  • Faults within the valve body.

10. Burning Smell Inside or Outside the Vehicle

Whoa, what’s that smell? A burning odour, especially after you drive, can hint at transmission issues. Keep an eye out for:

  • Overheating symptoms.
  • Contaminated transmission fluid.
  • Damaged transmission seals.

11. Vehicle Stalls When Shifting

If your ride’s stalling when you try to shift gears, it’s a definite cry for help. Such stalls can link back to:

  • torque converter malfunction.
  • A compromised shifting mechanism.
  • Excessive engine load.

12. Check Engine Light Comes On

That pesky check engine light isn’t always about the engine. Sometimes, it’s signalling transmission troubles. Have a mechanic run a diagnostics check, especially if the light’s accompanied by other symptoms mentioned above.


Driving in Australia presents its own set of challenges, from rugged outback tracks to coastal highways. Ensuring your transmission system is in top shape is vital. Regular check-ups, understanding the signs, and timely interventions can save you a bundle and keep your drive smooth. So, the next time you sense something’s off, don’t shrug it off. Your car’s trying to tell you something, and it might just be about the transmission.

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