Common Gearbox Problems and Faults

A transmission, also commonly called a gearbox, takes power from an engine and channels it through to the tyres via the drive shaft. In other words, the gearbox plays an integral part when it comes to moving the car. It should be in excellent working condition at all times because if anything goes wrong with the gearbox you lose the ability to drive your car.

If you maintain your vehicle regularly, change the transmission oil on time and be gentle when changing gears, you are not likely to face any issues with the gearbox. However, as is true with every mechanical component, there is bound to be a failure sooner rather than later. Therefore, to be safe, you should learn about all the common transmission issues, so you can catch a fault before it worsens.

Here we will talk about the most common gearbox problems and talk a bit about how you can avoid the issue from happening in the first place.

Types of Transmissions

Before we begin talking about the common gearbox problems, we must clarify that automatic and manual transmission present different faults and issues. The two types of transmissions, however, work on a similar concept so the problems we discuss here will cover both transmissions.

Gear Doesn’t Engage or Respond

Car Gearbox

The environment inside a gearbox is extremely hot, which is where the transmission fluid comes in handy as it cools things down and keeps friction at a minimum. If your car is unresponsive when you put it in gear, then it is highly likely that you are running low on transmission fluid. In other cases, it could be the Transmission Control Module (TCM) that is malfunctioning. You can solve that by refreshing the ECU, but if that doesn’t solve the problem then you must visit a certified mechanic for further consultation.

Gear Makes Noises In Neutral

When the transmission starts making whining, grinding, or clunking noises the moment you shift gears, then there is something seriously wrong with your car. A gearbox should not make any noises, especially when it is in neutral. Unnecessary sounds from the gearbox could signal a minor problem, but chances are that you are looking at a hefty repair bill. Your first call to action should be to take your vehicle to the nearest mechanic and hope for the best.

Beware of Burning Smells

If it smells like something is burning in your car, you should be concerned, as that is not something you want to smell. It is a bad sign, and it usually means that your transmission fluid is overheating. The gearbox fluid can overheat very easily, especially if it has been in the system for a long time. If you sense something is burning, stop your car immediately and allow it to cool down.

Once the vehicle has cooled down, open the bonnet and check the transmission fluid levels. The fluid measuring stick is located somewhere in the front of the engine or on its side, depending on the type of car you drive. If the levels are low, you should re-fill the transmission with a top-quality fluid, so that such an incident doesn’t repeat.

Slipping Gears

Woman Changing Gear

Perhaps the most common issue with both types of transmissions is a slipping gear. What happens is, when you engage a gear, it does not stay in place, and it either slips into neutral or into a lower gear. This can be very inconvenient while you are driving, and in some cases, like when driving on the highway, the issue can prove to be life-threatening.

Therefore, you must get your car checked before you put yourself and others in harm’s way. If you have a manual transmission, gear slipping could be due to clutch failure, so get that inspected as soon as possible. In the case of an automatic transmission, the ECU is the main culprit. A thorough ECU refresh can solve the problem in a jiffy.

Check Engine Light Illuminates

The Check Engine Light can come one due to several reasons, one of which can be transmission failure. The light is activated by the ECU when it senses a problem in the gearbox. Do not take the Check Engine light for granted because if you ignore it now, you might end up paying a lot more in repair costs later.

Leaking Fluid

Transmission fluid can leak due to many reasons. A rock might have hit the gearbox and damaged it, or you might have badly scraped the transmission on the ground while off-roading. No matter the case, if there is a leak, a warning light will illuminate in your dash, indicating low levels of transmission fluid. You will also see a pink-ish red liquid dripping down under your car. If you spot the leak, make haste and visit a mechanic.

Final Thoughts

You don’t have anything under your control when it comes to transmission problems. They can come and go but what is important is that you should never ignore these faults or put them off for later.

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