Rebuilding a transmission is much more difficult and expensive than repairing or replacing it. However, it’s such a vital component of your vehicle’s engine that you can’t ignore it and hope for the best. There are certain signs that you should be on the lookout for if your transmission needs to be rebuilt.
Your transmission is a sealed unit and the fluid inside of it should not be able to leak out. If it does leak, the fluid normally should be a bright red color and have a sweet smell to it. However, if the fluid is a dark brown color or has a burnt smell, then it’s a big sign of trouble. The burnt smell usually indicates that there are high levels of friction and heat buildup. Additional signs of trouble present might be metallic dust in the transmission fluid, which could be a sign that there’s excessive wear on the gears or bearings. Even if the fluid is clean or “normal”, you should still have it checked out; leaving a leak alone can lead to more damage and problems later on.
Shift Delays or Slips
The one of the main purposes of the transmission, for both manual and automatic, is to shift the car’s gears as you drive. If the transmission is slipping and you have an automatic, you might notice that it feels like the car has changed gear for no reason. The transmission might also slip out of gear into neutral or jerk when you shift gears. If your car is a manual, you might notice some difficulty changing gears and a possible grinding sound. You should have a smooth transition when the car changes gears and the clutch shouldn’t drag or stay engaged.
Whining or Other Strange Noises
Your car does make noise, but it shouldn’t be excessively loud. Noises like buzzing, clunks, or whining are a sure sign that something is wrong. There are some sounds that are normal, but any unusual sounds heard should not be ignored. You should also be concerned if you hear thumping or grinding during gear changes, or sudden revving of the engine when the vehicle isn’t moving forward.
Failure to Accelerate and Engage
It might also feel like your car is struggling to accelerate or difficultly reaching higher speeds. Pay attention to the RPMs: are they higher than they should be for the speed you are going or what is necessary for the gear change? You might also have a delay between when you put the car in drive and move forward. The engine might rev as you press on the gas, but the car might not move, or move slower than it should. A transmission with higher mileage, usually over 150,000 miles, might take close to one second to engage. If it’s takes a second or less, then you still have some time before you need to have something done about it. Don’t procrastinate though; if it takes two seconds or longer before it engages, then it means that it’s worn out and you need to do something about as soon as possible.