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
One of the best experience...
Adonis Contreras
One of the best experience my wife and I ever had with any mechanic. Coco and her son, were both amazing, they helped us with our immediate issue. Honest and trustworthy, friendly and understanding. God smiled on us that day when our car problem presented and we were lucky to have been at their shop. They turned a problematic day into one of the finest experiences of our lives.
Date: May 2, 2023
Website: Google
A year ago I had...
Gladys OC
A year ago I had a transmission job done there and haven't had any problems, the receptionist was very pleasant, helpful and respectful... best part they charge reasonable price so I guess they have excellent mechanics that really know about transmissions and did a great job, I would recommend this place. Gladys Ortiz. I don't think they do oil change or any other auto mechanical services because I just called and was told they don't do that.
Date: May 2, 2023
Website: Google
They have excellent customer service...
Tracy Beckham
They have excellent customer service at this location. Dan went above and beyond to help me get the best option to replace my transmission. Definitely will use them for service again.
Date: May 1, 2023
Website: Google
"Great service, good analysis of...
Ken Margeson
"Great service, good analysis of the problem and a solution..Definitely felt I was a valued customer . Thanks"
Date: May 1, 2023
Website: Google
Super service done by them...
Niharika Khurana
Super service done by them for my new transmission and excellent after sales service as well
Date: May 1, 2023
Website: Google
They gave excellent service, I’ve...
Jamol Melbourne
They gave excellent service, I’ve done business with Rays shop for a long time. Honest person.
Date: May 1, 2023
Website: Google
Darren was polite and honest...
Glenna Daisey
Darren was polite and honest about the work required. How long it was going to take and my options. I was comfortable through the whole process.
Date: April 30, 2023
Website: Google
Excellent service, extremely nice to...
Mircea Tocitu
Excellent service, extremely nice to talk to, explained everything into detail good repair.
Date: April 30, 2023
Website: Google
Solid reputable place to have...
Matthew Harrison
Solid reputable place to have your car worked on by honest people
Date: April 30, 2023
Website: Google
Surper friendly, fast, and efficient...
Jason Zsoka
Surper friendly, fast, and efficient service. I love the new management team. If ever I need transmissions or drive train work again, this is the place I'll go! Thanks
Date: April 30, 2023
Website: Google
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