Whining and Other Noises When Shifting Gears

By Mister Transmission

What does a failing transmission sound like?

The roar of your vehicle’s engine out on the open road is a beautiful sound. It’s music to every driver’s ears, a symphony of precise automotive components singing together in perfect harmony. It’s the sound of automotive health. And then there are other noises that are decidedly less pleasing to the ear…

Clunking, whining, buzzing, growling, grinding, or humming sounds coming from your transmission are all serious cause for concern, but diagnosing your transmission issues by ear is not easy.

Consider the following: 

  • If your transmission is growling, check the transmission fluid level. If the growl turns into a whine, you may be hearing the teeth of the gears grinding down due to lack of proper lubrication, fluid contamination, or high mileage. Be sure to check your transmission fluid as soon as possible to confirm or rule out this possibility.
  • If your transmission makes a noise when you step on the clutch pedal, the sound is probably coming from the release bearing in the clutch assembly, not the transmission itself.
  • If your transmission makes noise when you release the clutch pedal, after engaging a gear, it is likely coming from a bad pilot bearing or bushing in the clutch assembly.
  • If your transmission makes a grinding noise when you shift gears, you are likely experiencing friction between gears due to insufficient transmission fluid, worn transmission linkage, maladjusted binding, or a “dragging clutch.” If you hear grinding sounds when shifting from neutral to any gear, you may be dealing with bound, bent, or broken linkage components. The grinding may also be caused by damaged or worn synchronizer blocking rings, shift forks, or bearings.
  • If your transmission makes a humming noise, you may be driving with low transmission fluid, or else your transmission fluid may be contaminated with metal shavings.
  • If you hear a humming noise in all gears, you may be dealing with a worn or damaged shaft or bearing.
  • If you hear a growling noise specifically while moving, it is usually caused by a bad input shaft bearing. If that’s the case, you will be able to hear grinding in any gear, at any engine speed.
  • If you hear a growling noise in neutral, you could be dealing with damaged bearing on the countershaft, countergear, or input shaft.
  • If you hear a growling noise in forward/reverse gears, but not in neutral, there is a possible fault in the output shaft bearings.
  • If you hear a clicking noise, you may be driving with worn or damaged teeth on a counter gear or cluster gear assembly.
  • If you hear a banging noise after releasing the clutch in first gear, your transmission or engine mount could be cracked or damaged. You can verify this by popping the hood, starting the engine, engaging first gear, and releasing the clutch to move forward. Have a helper stand to the side and watch for any jerking as the vehicle engages the transmission.

However, nowadays there is no set telltale sound associated with specific types of transmission failures. Transmissions fail in a wide variety of ways, and because today’s transmissions contain so many electronic components, they can be extremely hard to diagnose without the proper diagnostic tools and techniques.

Because there is no common set of circumstances or sounds that distinguish minor issues from major problems, the best thing to do is to find a certified transmission specialist as soon as you hear strange noises while shifting gears.

Save money on transmission repair: Think fast, act local, diagnose early

The longer you leave these mysterious sounds unchecked, the greater your risk of accelerated wear, costly repairs, and catastrophic transmission failure.

To help you stay safe and control your vehicle repair and upkeep costs, we are proud to offer 100% FREE road tests and multi-check inspections at all 58 of our locations across Canada. The faster you act, and the less distance you need to drive to complete your inspection, the less you’ll have to pay for essential transmission upkeep and repair services—and if you need a little help, flexible payment plans are available.

Diagnose transmission noises near me: Call Mister Transmission

For more than half a century, 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.

Whether your vehicle has an automatic, manual, or continuously variable transmission (CVT), our experts have the skills, equipment, and experience needed to get you a concrete diagnosis and cost-effective repair, fast. 

Every consultation starts with a free road test and multi-check inspection, which includes:

  • Visual inspection
  • Fluid Check (on models with dipsticks)
  • Road Test
  • On Board Diagnostics (OBD) Computer Scan – read codes

After these preliminary tests are done, we check the following to determine if a minor adjustment will correct the issue:

  • Neutral switch
  • Engine RPM
  • Throttle linkage
  • Modulators
  • Transmission mounts
  • U-joints
  • Fluid retention
  • Electronic controls

Based on our findings, we may recommend:

  • Additional transmission pan examinations
  • Adjustments and in-car repairs
  • Resealing necessary components
  • Replacing accessible parts
  • Complete transmission overhaul

Whatever you need, you’ll find it at our certified transmission repair shop, and you’re guaranteed great results, thanks to our:

  • History of success—After 58+ years of success and over 11,000+ glowing reviews, our commitment to quality service and customer care is clear.
  • Leading transmission technology—We equip each of our highly trained transmission specialists with the best tools and leading diagnostic technology to get you great results on every service.
  • 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 without draining your annual maintenance budget.
  • Nationwide warranty—We stand behind our transmission repair, maintenance, and replacement services with one of Canada’s best warranties.

For your convenience, we offer:

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

Why is my gear box clunking?

Is your vehicle’s manual transmission noisy in neutral? Do you hear humming, buzzing, or whining noises when you let the clutch out in neutral?

Your vehicle’s transmission should be inspected by a certified technician, as it may be a warning sign that your transmission is failing. Read More

What does a clunking noise mean?

A clunking noise from your front end may indicate a problem that can interfere with the safe operation of your vehicle.

In the case of the whining, humming and clunking caused by transmission problems it tends to last whereas popping and backfires will happen only momentarily and whirring from the engine will occur as you speed up. Read More

Is it safe to drive with a clunking noise?

Unusual whirring noises, weird clunking sounds, and humming or grinding noises can all be bad signs.

It can be hard to tell if a noise is unusual, though, but if you feel grinding when you change gears, that’s definitely a sign that you need transmission service. Read More

What noise does a failing transmission make?

The transmission is one of the most essential and highly complex parts of any vehicle. A healthy transmission is integral to the overall longevity of your car and its engine.

Before you start to worry it’s a complete transmission replacement, it’s crucial to have a proper diagnostic test conducted to identify the problem. Read More

How do you diagnose a noisy transmission?

Troubling noises emanating from beneath your hood should not be neglected.

Furthermore, if you hear unusual noises as you shift while accelerating, or if you feel your car shuddering when changing gears or find changing gears laborious, it’s possible your clutch is worn out. Read More

Why do I hear a clunk when I accelerate?

Clattering, clunking, clanging, or clinking, these are some sounds you never want to hear when your vehicle is idling while parked or in neutral.

If you hear a constant whining sound while driving that changes pitch, or a constant tone while in neutral, it’s possible your torque converter needs inspection and repair. Read More

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Customer Reviews
Great people -- great service!
Rob Dagenais
Great people -- great service!
Date: May 13, 2024
Website: Google
Good people got my transmission...
Isidro Thiessen
Good people got my transmission repaired quickly. It was expensive tho.
Date: May 12, 2024
Website: Google
Knowledgeable, professional and good service.
Jacobo Pineda
Knowledgeable, professional and good service.
Date: May 12, 2024
Website: Google
I had my 2007 Toyota...
Theresa F
I had my 2007 Toyota Rav 4 transmission rebuilt almost 2 years ago. Decided to bring it back for a transmission fluid change and for another check before the warranty expires. What I didn’t tell them is that there’s already a leak (my neighbour told me). I’m giving this business a 5 star review because they are honest. They told me it had a leak and they had to replace the seal, and it was still under warranty. Wow! Thank you!!!
Date: May 11, 2024
Website: Google
I have a 2015 Mazda...
Jaimin Patel
I have a 2015 Mazda 3 with automatic transmission. It is having jerking issue at 2nd gear when the car is cold. One of my known mechanic suggested Ken for transmission issues. I went there and parked my car overnight to make sure it is cold. In morning, Ken drove it and figure out instantly it was a computer mechanism trying to save fuel by engaging clutch and gear differently, which is normal and I should not spend any money on it. I liked Ken's experience and knowledge and his guidance which saved me going broke.
Date: May 11, 2024
Website: Google
Great friendly, prompt and reasonably...
Dey Muller
Great friendly, prompt and reasonably price service!
Date: May 10, 2024
Website: Google
Excellent experience. Jason is the...
Phil Wall
Excellent experience. Jason is the frontman. Super professional, friendly, and knowledgeable. Great service.
Date: May 10, 2024
Website: Google
Peter and his team did...
Peter Cadieux
Peter and his team did a great job! Very fair pricing and quick turnaround!
Date: May 10, 2024
Website: Google
Had a leak from the...
Bobros1944 Roz
Had a leak from the pan and front seal on my transmission. Despite being busy these guys were able to seal up the pan within one day. No leaks from the pan. I decided to hold off on the main seal as it is a slow leak and I'll deal with it in the winter when the cars in storage. Thanks
Date: May 9, 2024
Website: Google
Absolutely amazing service and help....
Tyrel &
Absolutely amazing service and help. Our shop was in a pickle with a customers vehicle. They got it remedied that day and gave us very valuable insight going forward. Thank you very much again! Greatly appreciated 🙏
Date: May 9, 2024
Website: Google
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