A transmission is one of the most important parts of a vehicle. This complex mechanical system is designed to direct any power from your engine into the driveshaft which helps turn the wheels. As a result, any problems that are inflicting its performance, including excessive wear and tear, can cause some serious drivability issues up to the point of making it inoperable.

By following proper preventative maintenance protocols, you can ensure the longevity of your transmission while avoiding any costly repairs. However, whenever you transmission does have any problems, it’s a good idea to be able to recognize what you could be dealing with. In this article, we’ll run down two of the most common transmission problems that can happen if it isn’t well-maintained.

Low Transmission Fluid or Leaks

Low transmission fluid levels or leaks are easily the most common type of problems this component can experience. Automotive Transmission Fluid, or ATF, helps lubricate, clean, and conditions the hydraulics. If it gets too low or is completely empty, your engine will start to seize up and stop working in its entirety.

Leaks also happen to be one of the most recognizable symptoms. The fluid itself normally has a bright red color, so if you discover this liquid deposited in your driveway, you just need someone to patch up the holes. If it has a dark red color or has a burnt smell (usually through overheating fluid), you will need to have your transmission fluid changed or flushed with the strong possibility of further repairs.

The way to check your transmission fluid level is the same as oil. Take your car for a drive for a few minutes in order to warm it up and then take a look under the hood to read the dipstick (with the vehicle on even ground). For those with a manual transmission, there should be a transmission case through the fill plug.

Unlike oil, transmission fluid is not consumed by your car, so you should be able to tell quite clearly if there is a leak somewhere. If it will be a while before you can get it fixed, top off the fluid until you have your vehicle serviced so your engine can still do its job. Also, make sure you follow your owner’s manual so you don’t overfill, which can create even bigger issues.

Check Engine Light

This is clearly the best indicator that something is about to go wrong with your transmission or it has already happened. While this light could illustrate another problem, you should always take this light seriously. Your vehicle has a number of sensors located throughout the engine to alert the system if it starts to recognize any causes for concern. It can even pick up any jerkiness or vibrations you may not have felt yourself.

When that check engine light appears, take your vehicle in for an inspection as soon as possible. Through the shop’s diagnostic tools, they can find out what is going on to fix the problem immediately. Don’t delay as it could be warning you of a more serious problem.

Bottom line, if you start to hear a whining or grinding noise coming from your transmission, this could be the result of a mechanical issue. This is why it’s so important to have your transmission go through regularly-scheduled maintenance to ensure its operation while avoiding expensive repairs. That goes double if you start to hear any unusual noises or a slipping or dragging clutch.

You will be able to save money in the long run by bringing your vehicle in for repairs. In the meantime, by keeping yourself informed about the common transmission problems, you can also avoid being overcharged for a simple service.

Have any questions or concerns regarding your vehicle’s transmission? We would love to read your thoughts and inquiries in the comments below!