How to Predict Transmission Issues from Sewell Toyota


Transmission trouble can lead to costly repairs down the road. Sewell Toyota wants to help you spot trouble before major damage can occur. The transmission is one of the most integral and structurally complicated components in a vehicle. There are a number of warning signs that can indicate your transmission may need to be checked out by service professionals. Containing hundreds of sophisticated hydraulics and computer controlled electronic parts working together to change gears within the engine, the transmission transfers the engine’s power to the wheels, allowing your vehicle to move.


The transmission will display a number of warning signs that can indicate that it needs to be serviced. One warning sign that may present itself is a fluid leak. This is one of the easiest ways to determine if there is an issue. Transmission fluid is crucial to a vehicle’s shifting ability. This liquid is bright red and is not consumed or burned by the vehicle, so a low transmission fluid level is commonly due to a leak.


Common causes of leaks include:


  • Recent service or parts replacement involving disconnecting cooler lines, like a radiator replacement or a transmission flush

  • Worn seals or gaskets

  • Damaged bell housings

  • Loose transmission pan/pan leak

  • Out of balance drive shaft

  • Worn axles (FWD), engine, and Transmission Mounts


Warning lights will activate when a vehicle’s sensors will recognize vibrations and early problems that you may not be able to see or feel. One common warning light that will activate is the transmission temperature light, indicating that the transmission fluid is hotter than normal, causing the transmission to operate at higher temperatures. If you notice this light, you may want to check your transmission fluid level, engine coolant levels, or have the vehicle inspected by professionals.


You can check your transmission fluid with the dipstick, which is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to prolong the life of your transmission. Refer to your owner’s manual to locate your vehicle’s dipstick. With the vehicle in park, let your engine run until it is warm before pulling out the dipstick. Do not turn off your engine. The fluid should be pinkish and nearly clear. If the fluid is brownish in color or has a burnt toast smell, it is time to replace the fluid.


To check the fluid level, insert the dipstick, wipe it clean and examine level marks, then insert again and remove. The fluid should appear between two marks labeled “full” and “add” or “hot” and “cold.” If the fluid level is low, you may consider topping it off, but be sure not to add too much. If fluid levels are too high, the fluid can churn and aerate, creating bubbles that can trap heat and make the fluid run hotter.


Another common indicator of a problem is a strange smell. The transmission fluid has a slightly sweet or tart odor. A light or burning odor indicates it is time to have a fluid change. This issue can become much worse rather quickly. Transmission fluid is vital to keeping all transmission parts lubricated. If this fluid is extremely burnt, it can mean that the transmission is burning as well. This can lead to the necessity of a complete transmission rebuild.


Odd sounds are another indication of a transmission issue. The manual and automatic transmissions may respond differently when malfunctioning. A manual transmission’s warning sound usually presents as a very abrupt grinding noise or a feeling when shifting into a new gear. An automatic transmission will allow you to feel the car shimmy into each gear rather than having unnoticeable shifts. There may also be an accompanying whining, buzzing, or humming sound.


A delay in movement may also indicate a transmission issue. Transmissions were designed to go into the correct gear every time. Any hesitation is a sure sign that something is wrong. Manual transmissions will malfunction as you’re shifting gears. If you notice that after shifting the engine revs but does not move as quickly as the engine is running, this could indicate even more serious transmission issues. Automatic transmissions will show the same lack of responsiveness, however, it will show when the car is in park or drive. Usually, vehicles should shift easily into each gear, but if the transmission hesitates to go into either one, then there is probably an issue. This can become not only a vehicle concern, but also a safety issue.


If you notice any of these warning signs, reach out to the service professionals at Sewell Toyota. Our service team is happy to help you keep your vehicle running in peak condition. You can give us a call at (940) 322-7283 or schedule your service appointment online. Our service hours are Monday-Friday 7:30 AM-6 PM and Saturdays 8 AM-5 PM.
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