Your Trusted Auto Repair Shop for 40+ Years
Shop Talk Logo

Why You May Have a Rough Shifting Transmission

Rough Shifting TransmissionYour vehicle’s engine gets you going but what controls the direction and speed you desire? The transmission! The transmission is the workhorse that sends power created by the engine to the wheels to maintain or increase speed. When you shift from park into reverse, the transmission engages the gears to change direction while the engine forces the vehicle to move. 

When you shift from reverse to drive and begin to pick up speed, the transmission continues to engage clutches to smoothly move from gear to gear.

When something isn’t working quite right, the transmission begins sending warning signs in the form of slipping, jerking, or rough shifting. Transmission troubles can worsen over time so it’s important to act quickly and have the vehicle inspected by a professional technician.

Signs You May Have A Rough Shifting Transmission:

Are you feeling a grinding or shaking sensation?

Your vehicle’s transmission should have a smooth transition as it moves from gear to gear. Any feelings of slipping, grinding, or shaking as it changes gears is abnormal. Usually these are the first signs of transmission problems and while they may seem harmless in the beginning, they will often get worse. If you notice any sort of jerking when the car is shifting, an immediate inspection is recommended. Once gears become damaged, they will only worsen and progress over time.

Do you hear a whining or clunking sound?

Your engine may be noisy because it’s moving and turning belts, but your transmission should be relatively quiet. If you hear whining, humming, or clunking when shifting, or an unusual sound while in Neutral, your transmission may be telling you the transmission fluid is beginning to lose its effectiveness. Transmission fluid is meant to reduce heat created by friction, keep internal components lubricated, and act as a cleanser keeping components like-new. After thousands of circulations around the transmission, the fluid begins to break down, losing its protective properties. 

Clunking sounds are an indication that you may already have a problem. Check fluid levels and conditions often and flush the system every 30,000 – 50,000 miles. Keep in mind, if your transmission has damaged internal components, a fluid change will not address the problem and may actually make things worse.

Does your car slip out of gear?

Slipping out of gear, losing traction, or the need to accelerate to avoid a problem is a serious and scary situation. The vehicle’s internal computer communicates to the transmission when to shift from gear to gear and when to send power to the wheels. If there is a loss of traction or gear slipping, communication has failed and indicates a serious malfunction. Driving in these conditions could put your safety or the safety of others at risk. Contact a tow service and have the vehicle towed to a trusted automotive center immediately. 

Did your check engine light come on?

The Check Engine light isn’t just for your engine, it actually covers a myriad of things. The transmission is chock full of sensors that monitor operations. These sensors may detect an error long before you notice something is wrong while driving. When a sensor observes unusual behavior it sends a message to the car’s computer indicating something is out of order. The computer then illuminates the Check Engine light to let you know the vehicle needs attention.

Do you smell something burning?

A burning smell is a bad sign, in any situation, but especially if it’s coming from your car. The most common causes of a burning smell from a car is from overused, burnt transmission fluid. As transmission fluid ages its lubricating function weakens and is unable to cool the components that have heated from friction. Heat from friction is the number one cause of the breakdown of internal parts, build-up of debris, and the creation of sludge that lead to a complete transmission failure. 

Are you having trouble accelerating?

A car that is having difficulty accelerating, changing gears, or has a rough transition from gear to gear along with a clunk or thud feeling is experiencing rough shifting. Rough gear changes can be caused by low, lack of, or dirty transmission fluid. If fluid condition is acceptable, a faulty sensor or a vacuum issue (on older vehicles) may be to blame. 

Are you able to shift from Park?

There are several reasons that you may not be able to shift out of park, some of them may be caused by the transmission, while others may be completely unrelated. A failed brake light switch, a faulty shift interlock wiring or solenoid, broken shifter mechanism, or a faulty transmission shift cable may be responsible for what causes the gear shift to get stuck. An inspection of the vehicle by a trained technician will help identify the cause for repair. 

Is there a delay when you shift into Drive or Reverse?

Do you notice a lag when you shift into gear? Delayed engagement, as it’s called, can last up to one minute, however, any time after one minute likely means the transmission has already failed. Delayed engagement is often caused by poor transmission fluid maintenance, lack of fluid, or faulty transmission solenoids. 

Have Your Transmission Inspected By Professionals

You may be able to avoid having a rough shifting transmission or transmission that experiences difficulty shifting just by ensuring your vehicle receives routine and scheduled maintenance. 

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the questions above, you’ll need an expert Transmission Specialist to help determine the cause of your transmission woes. Though many drivers fear the thought of having transmission troubles, sometimes a simple fix is all that is needed. Waiting and allowing things to get worse can actually end up costing you more in the end.

If you’re having transmission troubles, it’s important to act quickly and have the vehicle inspected by a professional technician from Sun Auto Service as soon as possible. Our specialized team of Transmission Professionals can inspect, repair, replace or rebuild your vehicle’s transmission. You’ll be impressed with the quality of service and our written guarantee. Visit a Sun Auto Service at one of our many locations in Nevada or Texas today!