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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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