Transmission slipping is a common problem in automatic vehicles and can be caused by several factors. If left neglected it could potentially cause bigger problems later on. Transmission slipping doesn’t always mean that your transmission is at the point of breaking down however it usually means that maintenance is required. If you start experiencing slippage then you will need to bring it into a repair shop to have it examined. But how can you tell when you are experiencing slippage?
Signs of Transmission Slipping
A typical sign of transmission slipping is when the RPM gauge is above 3,500. Large spikes in revolutions per minute should not be happening and is a big indicator. It will usually feel like the car has lost power even though you are revving the engine. It will even feel like you have gone into neutral. So even if you are putting your foot down on the accelerator the car will not budge or there will be an unexpected wait time before the car moves forward. This lazy start means that the transmission isn’t properly transferring power to the engine. The gears move but the transmission is late to latch on.
Another sign is when you shift gears but the you receive a harsh response or it is hard to even shift gears. If your car makes an unusual response, like if it feels like being rear-ended when you shift gears then this means your car is experiencing transmission slipping. The reason behind this is because the transmission can’t get the right traction to disengage and latch on to the shifted gears. Another unusual response is if it feels like the car has taken itself out of gear or shifted to another gear.
Also if there is any noise when moving after idling or when shifting gears then this means that you are experiencing slippage. Unusual noises such as screeching, clanging, or grinding in any part of your car is not normal and needs to be tended to.
Causes of Transmission Slipping
If you are experiencing transmission slipping than this can usually mean one of several things: either the fluid is low or dirty which is the #1 reason for transmission slipping, the torque converter is having problems, or the clutches have worn out. Other reasons could be because of broken seals or bands.
Most often transmission slipping is caused by low fluid or dirty fluid. If there is low fluid then this can often mean a leakage or a worn out seal. Check to see if your car is leaking any fluid underneath as this means there is a leak. If so you will need to get it checked out immediately in order to have the seals replaced. If the fluid is dirty it will cause restricted flow affecting the transmission. A transmission flush or fluid change is recommended for these circumstances. But if you are experience slippage the first thing you will want to do is check fluid levels. If it is too low, top it off with the specific fluid referred to in your car’s manual and give it a test drive to reassess.
If the fluid is full and clean then the problem could reside within your car’s interior. The next culprit for transmission slipping is when the torque converter is failing. The purpose of the torque converter is to supply power to the transmission for gear shifting and keeping the correct pressure in the transmission fluids. If these aren’t being done properly then this means the torque converter has developed issues. This is a more difficult problem to solve and usually means you will have to replace the torque converter altogether.
If your torque converter is working as it should then the clutches might be the reason why there is slippage. This happens when clutches wear out from moving against one another. When they become too thin they fail to stick together and slippage results. At this point you will have to replace them. Here is a guide that tells you when your clutches have worn out and if you want to replace it at home this article will help.
How to Prevent It
To prevent transmission slipping in the future here are some steps you can take.
First of all check your transmission fluid regularly. Once a month is recommended and you should look for both low levels and dirty fluid. If the transmission fluid is starting to get dirty then you will want to get a fluid change or a transmission flush. These should always be done routinely, experts suggest every 30,000 miles or 2 years but you should look into the owner’s manual for a better idea. Low or dirty fluids are the biggest reasons for transmission slipping so if you can manage to keep that under control then you will often experience no problems. You will also want to have the filter replaced every time you get a fluid change or a flush.
You should also regularly get it checked for any other problems. As we have discussed the problems could lie within the vehicle which is why you should bring it into a repair shop on a routine basis to prevent problems like slippage from arising. It is better to be safe than sorry, you don’t want to have to shell out a lot of money later on to have it replaced or rebuilt.