Diagnosing Some Common Problems With an Automatic Transmission

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Your car's automatic transmission should operate for many years without a problem, but once a problem does occur, you want to address it as soon as you can. Ignoring some minor problems with a car's transmission can lead to even more serious problems in time, so that you face even bigger repair bills. It might also mean that the transmission simply fails and your car stays in neutral or park; if this happens when on the road, this could be dangerous. Note a few tips for diagnosing common problems with an automatic transmission so you know what repairs you might be facing. 

No forward or reverse, or slipping gears

Low transmission fluid can mean not enough lubrication in the system to take the car out of neutral, but if the car is slipping gears, this often means a defective solenoid. This is a type of spring or cable that holds the car in gear and when it goes bad, it won't keep the transmission mechanisms in place. Worn gear teeth can also allow the car to slip out of gear and either of these parts may need to be replaced. 

Transmission overheats

If you smell something burning from your car or notice black smoke, this can be the transmission. If the fluid levels are not low, it may be that the fluid in the transmission is old and corroded and not keeping the transmission cool; a flush of the system can keep it cooler. Clogged fluid lines in the transmission can keep it from getting adequate fluid to keep the system cool. 

You may also be hauling too much weight for the car's transmission so it cannot easily stay in gear, causing added wear and tear, corrosion and overheating. If you're pulling a trailer or caravan, and especially if you're going uphill, consider if the car is simply overloaded and you need to lighten that weight.

Delayed shifting

When you put your car into gear, it should "take" immediately and not hesitate from one gear to another. If this happens, it could be low fluid or a bad solenoid, as mentioned above. If that spring wears out, then the car may not move easily from one gear to the next, and it hesitates. If you've used the wrong type of fluid in your transmission system or the fluid is burnt, this can also cause a delay in shifting. Draining the system and refilling it can be what's needed.