How These 4 Transmission Problems Can Ruin Your Holiday Season

The winter months see us spending a bit more time in our cars than usual. However, unexpected transmission problems can put a quick end to even the best laid festive plans. Avoid the headache this holiday season by avoiding these 4 transmission problems.

AAMCO  | 12/04/2020
Car Problems & Safety

During the holiday season, you may find yourself hitting the road more, whether to pick up last-minute presents at a local shop or on a leisurely cruise to view the dazzling holiday light displays. This year has been filled with uncertainty and cause for charity; we may find ourselves helping out at food banks, dropping off meals to sick friends and families, and going the extra mile to help bring joy to our communities.

The last thing you want ruining your holiday season is a broken-down car. However, year after year, auto technicians across the country find unhappy families dropping their vehicles off for emergency repairs. One of the biggest culprits of an unexpected holiday disruption? Transmission problems.

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4 Transmission Problems That Can Put a Dent in Your Holiday Festivities

Your vehicle’s transmission is a complex and highly-complicated bit of machinery that helps your engine power your vehicle smoothly and efficiently. When functioning properly, you will find that your car glides between gears as you drive and can accelerate and decelerate with ease. 

However, as with any other part of your vehicle, your transmission can experience destructive wear and tear. As the temperatures cool, you may discover that unseen issues under the hood start to manifest in unexpected ways. 

When you encounter transmission problems, there are a variety of symptoms to watch out for. Knowing the signs of transmission performance issues can help you more quickly take care of the problem before the transmission fails completely and you face a more costly repair job or, worse, strands you:

  • Whining or humming noise coming from under the hood or vehicle 
  • Transmission slippage or delayed engagement 
  • Sudden appearance of your vehicle’s “Check Engine” light
  • Inability to shift between any gear
  • Fluid leaks under the vehicle

1. Low Transmission Fluid

Your vehicle’s transmission is a hydraulic system that operates using a fluid especially made for that particular transmission. While you may not change your transmission fluid as often as your oil or gasoline, it is still an essential part of ensuring your transmission system stays lubricated and properly functioning. Suppose you notice your transmission not shifting smoothly, delays when you put it in gear, the engine revs between gears or around corners, or you notice a dark oily leak below your vehicle. You should immediately check the levels and condition of your transmission fluid to see if you have a problem.

Transmissions don’t use transmission fluid the same way an engine uses gasoline and shouldn’t require “topping off.”  Therefore, if levels are low, you are facing a leak that requires immediate attention. In the winter months, cold weather can wreak havoc on transmissions that are low on fluid, so make sure you visit your auto technician at the beginning of the season for a seasonal checkup or at the first sign of any transmission issues.

2. Dirty Transmission Fluid or Clogged Transmission Filter

Similar to low transmission fluid, you may also find that your transmission fluid is dirty or that your filter is becoming clogged. As your car ages, the fluids and filters within the vehicle will age as well. The regular wear and tear of driving in various climates can lead to particulate matter from within the transmission contaminating the fluid and the filter. This can lead to a reduced performance of your transmission and faster wearing of your engine and gears. If your filter is becoming clogged, this is a major sign that the transmission is wearing severely and near the end of its useful life. The filter may become discolored from age, but a large amount of friction material or metallic specs are indicators of worn or damaged parts inside the transmission.  

3. Failing Transmission Pump

Your transmission fluid and other important components are pressurized by your transmission pump. This important piece of equipment is responsible for initiating the process that allows your vehicle to smoothly change gears when accelerating or decelerating. If your transmission pump begins to fail, you will quickly see the symptoms of transmission trouble, gear slippage, delayed engagement, and even whining or grinding noise from the front of your transmission.

4. Worn Down Clutches, Bands, or Torque Converter

Just like a transmission pump can go bad, other essential elements in the transmission system also face deterioration. The clutches, bands, and all-important torque converter (essential for automatic transmissions), can begin to wear down with age and use. Should any of these small but vital parts wear down or fail, you will find your vehicle quickly losing the ability to shift gears and power itself forward.

Avoid The Headache & Enjoy The Holidays

Ensure your vehicle keeps you moving this holiday season with a Vehicle Courtesy Check at your local AAMCO. Your vehicle comes with a manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, which includes checks on the transmission and fluid.

Never miss the recommended scheduled routine maintenance on your vehicle, especially when the months turn colder. Cold, snowy, and icy weather can stress various parts of a vehicle, especially your transmission. Keep an eye out for tell-tale signs of transmission problems, and at the first sign of trouble, hightail it to your local, experienced auto technician at AAMCO. By taking the time to invest in preventative measures early, you can enjoy the holidays without the hassle of unexpected transmission repair.

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