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Common Problems with Automatic Transmissions

While automatic transmissions are far more popular than manual transmissions today, they are also prone to more problems. Automatic transmissions require repairs more often and repairs tend to cost more than those for manual transmissions. This is why it's especially important to watch for signs of problems that can be addressed before you need an expensive transmission replacement. Here are some of the most common transmission problems you may experience.

Slipping transmission


When your transmission slips, it may feel like you're driving in one gear that slips or shifts for no reason. Your engine may make a high-pitched noise or start to struggle, feel underpowered, or fail to accelerate like it should.

Leaking transmission fluid


Your transmission should never leak fluid. Note that transmission fluid is bright red and slightly sweet-smelling, although it may be brown or dark red if it's old. Watch for signs of leaking transmission fluid in your garage and on your driveway.

Low transmission fluid


Allowing a leak to continue runs the very real risk that your transmission fluid level will get low enough to cause irreparable damage. If the transmission has low fluid, it will quickly overheat. Because this fluid keeps the components of your transmission lubricated, the parts will get worn out and damaged as well. You will probably notice the aroma of burning fluid. This means it's time to get your transmission fluid flushed or changed and you may need repairs. If you ignore this problem, your transmission will eventually become damaged beyond repair.

Clunking shifts


Does it feel like your car refuses to change gears normally? Sometimes you may hear or feel a clunking or thud when the car shift gears or you may notice the car has trouble picking up speed. It's a sign of transmission problems when shifts are not smooth.

Slow engagement


Do you notice a delay before your car engages into drive and moves? It's a sign of transmission problems if you shift out of park and into drive and there's a delay when your engine revs but does not move forward.

Check engine light


Is your check engine light on? This doesn't necessarily mean you have a problem with your transmission, but it should never be ignored. Always take your vehicle in for inspection when the check engine light comes on so the problem can be diagnosed.

Transmission repairs or replacement can easily cost more than $2,000 although some repairs may cost as little as $150 if you're proactive and have your transmission inspected as soon as you notice signs of trouble. Never ignore transmission issues; they will only get worse and potentially require replacing the entire transmission at a high cost. Remember that you can avoid many costly transmission repairs by having your vehicle and transmission maintained and serviced regularly.

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