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When is the Right Time to Replace My Transmission?

Modern vehicles are designed for maximum durability, and with the right care and routine maintenance, they can serve you for many miles. Yet, like virtually all the machines we use, they will eventually need some significant repairs as they age. 

One of the issues you might experience at one point, or the other might involve your car’s entire transmission. 

A vehicle’s transmission is intricate machinery with many moving components. It is responsible for transferring power from the engine to the wheels through gears. 

transmission repair

Each time you shift gears when driving, bands and clutches from within your transmission system must apply and release for the shift to happen. It happens sooner for some cars than others, but the transmission will wear out from the strain over time, often leading to major transmission problems. 

With most parts of the car, it is usually quite easy to know when you need to do repairs or replacements. But despite the transmission being one of the most critical components of the car, many car owners don’t know how to tell when their car’s transmission is telling them that it’s about to fail. 

To help determine if your car might need transmission replacement, here are a few signs that you need to look out for. 

Check Engine Light

Although many drivers tend to ignore the chronic check engine light, it is always a good idea to take it with a bit of seriousness. The check engine light is there to alert you to an urgent problem that needs your attention. 

Your car comes equipped with sensors meant to trigger the warning system. Even something as non-threatening as a loose gas cap can set off the light. 

Your transmission also has sensors that detect jerks and tremors that you would not otherwise notice during your drive. Therefore, when the transmission sensors trigger the check engine light, you need to look at the problem urgently. Don’t wait until you notice the check engine light when a simple diagnostic scan from Mike’s Transmissions could shed some light on the issue. 

The Transmission's Repair History

You also need to factor in your car’s transmission history to determine if it’s time to replace your transmission. 

If there is a certain problem plaguing your transmission or it seems to have numerous different transmission issues now and then. It would make little sense dumping money into a transmission that might only end up taking you back to the garage after a while to have your car fixed. 

The best course of action would be to replace it altogether. 

Consider the Transmission's Mileage

Another important factor to consider is the age and mileage of the transmission. Automatic transmissions often start to fail after covering between 100,000 and 150,000 miles. Manual transmissions can fail even sooner, especially if you ignore regular maintenance and service. 

If you have clocked in more than 100,000 miles and your transmission seems to have a persistent issue, it will be in your best financial interests to invest in a new transmission rather than spend hundreds of dollars every few weeks or months on transmission repairs. 

Leaking ATF (Auto Transmission Fluid)

Perhaps the most obvious indication that there could be trouble with your transmission is a red fluid dripping from beneath your engine bay. 

Your transmission uses Automatic Transmission Fluid to reduce the friction as the car changes gears, thus preventing the car from overheating. If your car’s ATF is leaking, it won’t perform as smoothly or efficiently, so always try to watch out for stains or puddles underneath your vehicle. 

Another surefire way of finding out if you have a transmission fluid leak is looking out for the smell of a fluid burning. Extremely hot ATF has a distinct scent that smells more like burning rubber than burning oil. The smell of burnt transmission fluid could indicate a leak dripping onto hot vehicle components or worn-out ATF

If you happen to spot a leak, make sure you find out where it is coming from. It can be challenging to find the leak source because the fluid could have traveled across various car components. For this reason, make sure you take it to a good mechanic service who can troubleshoot and diagnose the problem.

While on the subject of ATF, it is important to point out that burnt, cloudy ATF is a sign of trouble. ATF usually has a bright red color, so if it appears dark and opaque, you might need to have the transmission looked at by professional transmission services like Mike’s Transmission

Difficulties With Shifting Gears

The gears on your car are a crucial component of your transmission. As such, problems when shifting gears are a strong sign that your transmission fails. Possible symptoms may include:

  • Shifting gears for no reason at all
  • The car jerks when you shift gears
  • Delays when the car is put into gear
  • A metal on metal grinding noise as you shift gears. However, this could be because of a worn-out clutch on a manual transmission. But you can never be too sure, so try and take the car for a check-up.  

The Bottom Line

Whether you drive an automatic transmission, semi-automatic, or manual car, you need to take good care of your transmission by providing it with regular service to serve you for miles on end. 

If the transmission needs servicing, rebuilding, or replacing will depend on the car’s total mileage and how damaged the whole system is. Sometimes, it could be that only a few parts need replacing. It could even be that the transmission fluid needs replacing. 

However, your car will often tell you when the transmission is failing so, try to keep an ear out for the symptoms listed above and reach out to us at 408-629-4205 for the best transmission repair in case you suspect your transmission might be failing. 

The quicker you bring the car to Mike’s Transmissions, the higher your chances of avoiding the trouble of a full transmission rebuild. 

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