Recognizing and Understanding When Gears Are Slipping in Your Car’s Transmission

It can be hard for the average driver to accurately spot problems they’re having with their vehicle. Read our tips to help you recognize the signs of slipping gears

Identifying gears slipping in your vehicle’s transmission can be tricky. You can tell something’s wrong with how your vehicle is performing, but pinpointing the problem and possible cause takes a bit of sleuthing.

Also referred to as transmission slipping, determining what the cause is may depend on whether your car or truck has an automatic or manual transmission. In general, there are five common signs that may indicate you need to have your manual or automatic transmission inspected by a certified professional, including:

  • Your car’s engine revs high but the vehicle barely moves
  • You’re unable to reverse
  • The transmission makes loud clunking, grinding, or other strange noises
  • There’s an unpleasant burning smell coming from the engine
  • The “service engine soon” light on your dashboard illuminates or transmission fluid is pooling beneath your parked car

Probable Causes of Transmission Gears Slipping
It’s important to note that gears slipping does not necessarily mean your transmission is on the cusp of failing, but it does demand you have it checked by an experienced professional and pronto.

There are a few common causes that precipitate transmission gears slipping and failing:

  • There’s an inadequate level of transmission fluid or the fluid is ineffective due to wear and tear
  • The clutch has failed or the gears are worn out
  • The transmission solenoids are run-down
  • For automatic transmissions, one or both of the transmission bands have disconnected from the gear train

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