High Engine Revs and Transmission Slipping

By Mister Transmission

Are you experiencing high engine revs and transmission slipping?

If your engine revs up as you press down on the gas but your vehicle doesn’t accelerate as much as you’d expect, you may be dealing with transmission slipping. If you’ve ever tried to accelerate on ice, where your engine revs but your vehicle goes nowhere, you know the feeling.

Transmission slipping is a common but costly problem for both manual and automatic transmissions, and if left untreated, it can lead to a full-blown transmission failure.

Fortunately, it is relatively easy to confirm this issue—in fact, if you’re sitting in the driver’s seat, you have everything you need to make a successful diagnosis.

How to test for high engine revs and transmission slipping

On the dashboard, locate the tachometer, the gauge that displays your vehicle’s RPMs, and the speedometer, the gauge that shows your speed. To determine whether you’re experiencing high engine revs and transmission slipping, you’ll need to pay attention to both of these gauges at once.

Normally, when you press down on the accelerator, the needles on the tachometer and speedometer should move together, increasing the RPMs as your vehicle speeds up. As the vehicle upshifts, the RPM will drop, but then the needle should immediately start climbing again as you continue to increase your speed. Generally speaking, one gauge should follow the other.

However, if your transmission is slipping, this doesn’t happen. Instead, when you press the gas pedal, the tachometer jumps up, revving your engine, but the speedometer barely moves. In extreme cases, if your transmission is severely slipping, it won’t move at all.

To confirm these problems, find a stretch of open road where you can safely conduct a quick test. All you need to do is get behind the wheel, watch the tachometer and speedometer readings (or get a passenger to watch it for you), and accelerate. If the tachometer springs to life while your speedometer barely stirs, it’s time to book a transmission repair service near you.

Alternatively, for a safer and more reliable diagnosis, you can drop by your local Mister Transmission for a FREE road test & multi-check.

Why is my transmission slipping? Top-10 common causes

  1. The clutch may be wearing out on your manual transmission, or it may already be worn out. If this is the case, the clutch will also feel soft or spongy when you press down on it. You may also hear strange noises or detect a burning smell caused by the friction of the clutch slipping. 
  2. The transmission fluid level is too low. When you do not have enough transmission fluid, and both the transmission oil pump and torque converter run dry, you lose hydraulic pressure to the solenoid, which can lead to erratic shifting.
  3. The transmission fluid level is too high. Overfilling your transmission fluid increases the risks of cavitation, which is a phenomenon whereby the liquid pressure drops below the vapor pressure, causing the transmission fluid to foam up. Cavitation is associated with erratic shifting, internal transmission damage, and oil starvation.
  4. Transmission fluid pressure may be too low. This appears as Error Code P0868‘ in OBD-II testing, and may be due to leaks, a faulty transmission pump, or malfunctioning fluid pressure sensors.
  5. The transmission filter may be clogged, in which case your transmission cannot pull the required transmission fluid through the oil pump to keep the solenoid operating properly. This causes slipping, erratic shifting, and outright failure to shift.
  6. Dirty transmission fluid. When in good condition, transmission fluid is a clear, red liquid. If it is blackened, burnt, or gritty, it is likely preventing proper shifting, and a professional transmission flush, new filter, or fluid replacement may be required.
  7. Bad transmission solenoid. Solenoids are located inside the transmission and responsible for directing hydraulic fluid into the valve body in order to engage the correct gear. If you have a bad transmission solenoid, you may experience erratic shifting, shift slippage, or complete failure to shift.
  8. Electronic component failure. When your electronic throttle body (ETB) has a worn or broken dial, communications may be disrupted between the electronic throttle body and transmission control module (TCM), causing a missed shift, no shift at all, or skipping gears (e.g. 2nd to 4th without hitting 3rd).
  9. Faulty transmission control module (TCM). If your vehicle has a faulty TCM, then it cannot communicate properly to the solenoid, which will cause erratic shifting and high revs. Some TCM problems arise from bent pins or excess corrosion around the pinout.
  10. Other components may be failing. Modern transmissions are sophisticated, multi-part  electro-mechanical pieces of equipment. Any number of component failures could be at the root of your transmission slipping. To get a concrete diagnosis and qualified repair, get in touch with your local Mister Transmission.

How to fix high engine revs and transmission slipping

If you’ve successfully diagnosed high engine revs and transmission slipping, or you suspect problems and need a professional opinion, our transmission repair experts can help.

We offer 100% FREE road tests and multi-check inspections to facilitate cost-effective early diagnoses, and should any problems be detected, we can correct them, no matter what type of vehicle you drive.

As Canada’s leading experts in transmission repair and maintenance, we’re proud to offer all of the following services under one roof::

  • Adjustments and in-car repairs
  • Reseal jobs
  • Replacing accessible parts
  • Complete overhauls

What’s more, when you choose a local Mister Transmission, your transmission repair or replacement benefits from:

  • A history of success—Over the past 58 years, Mister Transmission has helped thousands of motorists keep their transmissions in-shape, and we can do the same for you. But don’t take our word for it—our commitment to customer care and superior service is borne out by over 11,000+ glowing reviews.
  • Leading transmission technology—We equip our highly trained transmission specialists with high-quality tools and leading diagnostic technology to enhance vehicle performance and provide complete peace-of-mind.
  • Flexible payment plans and customer rewards—We offer flexible payment plans and give away $1000 worth of transmission repair services every month, so you can keep your transmission in-shape even on a shoestring budget.
  • Nationwide warranty—We stand behind our transmission repair, maintenance, and replacement services with one of Canada’s best warranties.

To book a free road test and multi-check inspection, you use the Mister Transmission Finder to connect with a transmission expert near you

Why is my engine revs so high?

It can be hard for the average driver to accurately spot problems they’re having with their vehicle.

Identifying gears slipping in your vehicle’s transmission can be tricky. Read our tips to help you recognize the signs of slipping gears. Read More

Is high revs good for engine?

Modern manual and automatic transmissions are complex machines. With that intricacy comes the possibility for a number of transmission problems to arise over time.

Read on to learn some of the more common transmission problems your vehicle may experience on the road. Read More

Do high revs damage engines?

Clunking, whining, buzzing, growling, grinding, or humming sounds coming from your transmission are all serious cause for concern.

Mister Transmission has been helping Canadians diagnose transmission sounds and performance issues to keep business fleets, commuter vehicles, and track-stars in shape, and we can do the same for you. Read More

Why is my engine revs high without acceleration?

A burning smell in your car could indicate serious transmission trouble.

It could be burning transmission fluid you’re smelling, and it’s one of the major warning signs that your vehicle’s transmission may be overheating. Read More

How to fix over revving car

Transmission fluid changes are an essential part of your routine servicing. They keep your vehicle running smoothly and performing at its peak.

Let’s learn more about the importance of transmission fluid changes, why they need to happen, and how they are done. Read More

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Customer Reviews
Cam got us taken care...
Cory Crete
Cam got us taken care of real good. Definitely had a transmission leak, unsure how bad damage is currently if a worry at all - but fixing the leak solved the issue of gear shifting locking up or skipping. Thanks for the assist, I'm sure we'll be back again.
Date: June 11, 2024
Website: Google
Mr Transmission was recommended to...
Kathleen Shenfield
Mr Transmission was recommended to me by my mechanic. The person that served me was incredible. I found him to be very knowledgeable about the issue I had with my car & would recommended the company to others. I was able to get in to have the problem fixed on my car quickly. The communication was quick & thorough. It was great to get mybcar back within 3.5 days. The car is running so much better now. Thank you Mr. Transmission.
Date: June 11, 2024
Website: Google
Went there last Friday with...
Went there last Friday with my wife's Saturn Outlook. Brian was the technician that I spoke to. Brian was very honest and told me that I don't need to spend money for a transmission, he has made a few suggestions to me on the issue. Just want to say thank you Brian and the rest of your team for being honest tradesmen. Keep up the good work.
Date: June 11, 2024
Website: Google
Great customer service and technicians…...
Catherine Evagelacopoulos
Great customer service and technicians… glad that I decided to bring my truck to them
Date: June 11, 2024
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Giuliano is an amazing &...
Samuel Sousa
Giuliano is an amazing & intelligent guy with decades of experience. Rest assured, he will take care of you and your family, always!
Date: June 11, 2024
Website: Google
The only transmission shop I...
Luka Dzelihodzic
The only transmission shop I deal with, he does multiple rebuilds for me every year. I can trust the product and send my customer on their way. Thanks Steve
Date: June 7, 2024
Website: Google
Very pleased with the service....
Stephanie Vlachos
Very pleased with the service. Car is back on the road and running smooth. Thank you Phil and team!
Date: June 7, 2024
Website: Google
Knowledgeable reception, thorough service.
Lloyd M.
Knowledgeable reception, thorough service.
Date: June 7, 2024
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I have always had great...
Shelby Kooy
I have always had great service here!
Date: June 7, 2024
Website: Google
I was first welcomed very...
Andres Romero
I was first welcomed very politely by Rob . Mike , the technician whose worked on my vehicle was very helpful . Extremely professional and knowledgeable, I would definitely recommend this location. Cheers
Date: June 7, 2024
Website: Google
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