Slide into the front seat, and drop the jagged edge of a round key into the ignition. The engine roars to life as you quickly position the rear view mirror. Feel the slick top of the gear shifter beneath your right hand, and put the vehicle in reverse. Once completely out of the parking space, you grab the gear shifter and put the car in drive. You grip the cool leather of the steering wheel and jam out to the tunes pouring from the radio while your vehicle shifts gears. The transmission in the vehicle manually or automatically shifts the gears in your vehicle.
How Does the Transmission Work?
Whether you drive a manual or an automatic, the transmission shifts the vehicle’s gears and makes sure that the correct power goes to the rear wheels at a given speed. A manual transmission requires the driver to manually shift gears. In order to shift gears, a brief moment must pass where the transmission does not receive power from the engine. In a manual, pushing a clutch disconnects power from the engine to the transmission so that the vehicle can shift up or down. The gear shifter in a manual physically switches gears within the transmission. In an automatic, the transmission does all of the work for the driver through the torque converter. You can hear the sound of an automatic shifting gears when the vehicle sounds slightly higher or lower as the vehicle accelerates.
Click the Powertrain/ Driveline for an animated guide.
The Check Engine Light Comes On
The check engine light warns drivers of possible problems. Tiny sensors placed throughout the vehicle cause the check engine light to turn on at the first sign of trouble, and the check engine light should never go ignored. With their incredible diagnostic tools, auto technicians can tell which sensors turned the check engine light on within minutes.
A burning smell coming from the vehicle could mean burning transmission fluid. Overheated transmission fluid produces a burned smell, and when not taken care of, the transmission fluid breaks down. Burned transmission fluid needs replacement immediately.
A Noisy Transmission
Trouble with the transmission usually produces a variety of sounds depending on the make and model of the vehicle. However, a sound resonating from the transmission is unmistakable. The most common noises coming from the transmission are clunking, whining, and humming noises. A bump sound in the transmission may be easily fixed by adding or replacing the transmission fluid. However, any noise means that the transmission needs attention immediately.
In a manual transmission, the noise sounds louder, harsher, and more mechanical than in a vehicle with an automatic transmission. The sound will occur as the vehicle shifts gears and should be checked out immediately. An auto technician may need to go beyond a transmission fluid flush to replace the bearings, worn gear teeth, or the reverse idler gear depending on the situation. If you wait to go see about your transmission at the first sign of trouble, more damage may incur and cause more expensive repairs.
Lagging or Lacking Response
When you shift from one gear to the next, the gears should shift seamlessly. A vehicle that lags or refuses to go into gear or shift gears has a transmission problem and should be looked at by an auto technician right away. A vehicle that refuses to go into gear may have a fluid or vehicle computer system problem. Lagging when shifting gears suggests other transmission issues.
In an automatic, the vehicle may lag between shifting from park to drive. In a manual, the vehicle’s engine may sound as if it is traveling faster than in actuality when shifting through other gears. When the engine sounds faster than the actual speed of the vehicle, the vehicle may need a clutch replacement. However, the sound could hint at a greater issue. A driver should have their vehicle inspected by an auto technician at the first sign of transmission trouble.
Grinding or Shaking
A vehicle is designed to flow quietly and seamlessly from one gear to the next. A grinding sound or shaking when switching gears indicates that the gears within the transmission need replacement. Manual transmissions experience the grinding sound and feeling when shifting gears. The grinding sensation in a manual could indicate that the clutch needs adjustment or replacement, but the sound could also indicate that the transmission has worn, unsynchronized gears. In an automatic, the transmission feels like it struggles to make smooth transitions as it switches gears. Shaking commences as the condition of the transmission worsens. Any grinding noise or shaking sensation should receive immediate attention. A certified auto technician can easily find and replace the source of the transmission’s problem so that no further problems occur down the road.
A vehicle should stay in the designated gear until either the driver or the vehicle’s internal computer system finds it necessary to shift gears. A vehicle that spontaneously slips out of gear places the driver, its passengers, and other vehicles on the road at risk. Gear slipping is a serious safety hazard and should be checked out by an auto technician immediately.
Manual transmissions can experience a dragging clutch, which makes shifting gears extremely difficult if not impossible. A dragging clutch usually results from too much slack available in the clutch pedal. With too much slack in the pedal, the clutch disk does not pull away from the flywheel. A dragging clutch is less expensive than many other transmission repairs, and a certified auto technician can have the vehicle back on the road in no time.
Transmission fluid lubricates all of the moving components within the transmission so that metal on metal friction does not cause damage to the transmission. In addition, transmission fluid also acts as a coolant to ensure that the transmission does not overheat. Clean transmission fluid allows the transmission to shift gears seamlessly, but dirty transmission fluid clogs the lines, causes a delay in shifting gears, and causes overheating in the transmission. A routine transmission fluid flush helps maintain a healthy, smooth-running transmission. We recommend having a transmission fluid flush every 30,000 miles to achieve optimal performance.
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