Today’s cars are complex in operation. There are thousands of individual parts that make up each vehicle. Most of them must also work to precise tolerances. For instance, the transmission converts the engine’s power into a usable format.
Manual gearboxes haven’t changed much over the years. But, automatic ones are now advanced yet complicated at the same time. If a problem occurs with an auto gearbox, it can often be outside the scope of the home DIY mechanic to diagnose!
For the most part, automatic transmissions work without issue. Just like your engine, they use oil to lubricate some internal components. Quite often, they’re known as sealed units. That means they never need to get serviced or repaired for the life of the vehicle. But, if they aren’t subject to periodic maintenance, things can go wrong.
Today’s blog post focuses on the telltale signs that an automatic gearbox is faulty. Here is what you need to know:
The transmission fluid never got replaced
The oil that lubricates the internal parts of the gearbox is transmission fluid. Your automatic gearbox might use one called Dexron III or IV. As you can imagine, like with any oil, it can break down over time and lose its lubrication properties.
When that happens, friction becomes a problem. Small metal particles start filling up the transmission case. They can soon form blockages of oil passageways and starve your gearbox of vital fluids.
Although auto transmissions are all sealed, they often have a service port. That is where the fluid can get drained and flushed, with new fluid getting filled up from the dipstick area.
If your car has never had a change of transmission fluid, it’s something you should consider. An auto repair shop can usually help you with that, as well as auto transmission specialists.
You have a fluid leak
Have you noticed some red or reddish-brown fluid on your driveway? If so, you might have a transmission leak! As with your engine, the gearbox also has oil seals. If they rupture or split, transmission fluid could seep out of them.
You should also know that most power steering systems also use automatic transmission fluid. So, before you blame the leak on your gearbox, check your power steering system hasn’t got any leaks!
Your transmission finds it hard to engage gears
Sometimes you might feel a lurching action going on when the gearbox tries to select a gear. Other times, it might feel you’re revving your engine in neutral.
Yes, you may have a problem with your transmission when that happens. But, the issue might be normal behavior for your particular type of gearbox!
The thing about automatic transmissions is that there are many variations. For instance, decades ago you could drive cars with two or three-speed “slush boxes.” In a nutshell, these are gearboxes that didn’t use torque converters.
CVT (continuously variable transmission) models only change gears at high RPMs. You often find those on Japanese cars such as Toyotas and Nissans.
I hope you have found today’s blog post useful. Thanks for reading!