Most Common Transmission Problems


Do you think something may be wrong with your transmission? Our team at Norm Reeves Volkswagen Superstore of Irvine explains some of the most common transmission problems that drivers encounter. We also tell you what warning signs to look for and what may have caused these problems to happen.

Transmission Fluid Is Low/Leaking

Transmission fluid plays a vital role in the operation of your vehicle by lubricating the transmission system, dispersing heat, and supplying hydraulic pressure. Not having enough transmission fluid to perform all of these functions properly could spell a big problem for your transmission system. 

How Does It Happen: Transmission fluid doesn’t burn up like motor oil, so a low fluid reading could be a sign that you have a leak somewhere in the transmission system. Leaks can happen if the transmission system is damaged or if certain parts are loose.

What to Look For: When transmission fluid is low, the transmission could have trouble shifting into gear or might slip in and out of gear sporadically. Check under your vehicle for signs of a leak. Clean automatic transmission fluid is red in color and somewhat sweet smelling. Damaged transmission fluid is dark and may have a burnt smell to it.

Clutch Malfunction

Another common transmission problem is a malfunctioning clutch. For vehicles equipped with a manual transmission, engaging the clutch disconnects engine power from the transmission so that the driver can change gears. When the clutch isn’t functioning properly, gear changing can be difficult, if not impossible.

How Does It Happen: Through normal use, the clutch will wear down and eventually need to be repaired or replaced. However, improper shifting can wear the clutch down faster or damage it.

What to Look For: A surge in RPMs after shifting without the vehicle going faster could be a sign of a damaged clutch as well as grinding or clunking noises when you engage the clutch and shift.

transmissionTransmission Running Too Hot

Your transmission is one of the hardest working parts of your car. For it to continue functioning properly, the transmission needs fluid to remain lubricated and avoid overheating. An overheated transmission could cause problems not just in the transmission system but also in other areas of the vehicle.

How Does It Happen: One of the most common reasons for a transmission system to become overheated is because there’s not enough transmission fluid. This fluid prevents parts from rubbing against each other, reducing heat caused by friction. However, using the wrong type or brand of transmission fluid could result in similar problems.

What to Look For: A burning smell could be a sign that your transmission system is running too hot. You may also hear strange or unfamiliar noises coming from the transmission system.

Think You Have a Common Transmission Problem?

If you’re experiencing any type of transmission problem, it’s important to have your vehicle inspected right away by a trained mechanic. Our team at the Norm Reeves Volkswagen Superstore in Irvine will conduct a full inspection of your vehicle to pinpoint the root of the problem. Contact us to schedule your service appointment today.