10 Most Common Transmission Problems & How to Fix Them

  1. Lack of Response
  2. Whining, Clunking and Humming
  3. Leaking/Low Fluid
  4. Grinding or Shaking
  5. Burning Smell
  6. Refuses to Go Into Gear
  7. Check Engine Light
  8. Transmission Noisy in Neutral
  9. Gears Slipping
  10. Dragging Clutch
  11. Problems by Make & Model
  12. OBD2 Trouble Codes
  13. Get the Problem Diagnosed

Your car’s transmission is a complex mechanical system that controls the application of power from the engine to the driveshaft. It experiences more wear and tear over time than most other parts of your vehicle due to the heat and friction produced by their many moving and interacting components. At the bottom of this page you can find a Fair Replacement Cost Guide on popular models of transmission.

Need a replacement transmission? Quality transmission suppliers can be hard to find. Have your 17-digit vehicle VIN# ready. Free estimates sent via text and email.

Transmission repairs or replacements are inconvenient, stressful and typically quite expensive, so it’s a good idea to pay attention to any activity that seems unusual. Adhering to the recommended maintenance procedures and schedule intended to prevent problems will help your transmission last longer, perform better and require fewer repairs over its lifespan.

Major issues are bound to arise if your transmission is not well maintained and/or symptoms of a problem are not checked by a professional soon after they develop.

How to Diagnose the Problem

Automatic Transmission Cut AwayDetermining what problem(s) your car has may seem like an impossible task, especially to the untrained eyes and ears of the average driver. It may be helpful to think of your car’s inner workings as similar to that of the human body.

To diagnose car problems yourself, try to think of it in terms of your own body. For instance, if your stomach begins to hurt without warning, you’ll probably start thinking of the last thing you ate in order to figure out why you are in pain.

A similar type of thinking goes into diagnosing car trouble. Problems that involve mechanical systems typically exhibit distinct sensations and sounds that act as indicators that a certain process isn’t working the way it is intended to.

As soon as you recognize that something seems a bit “off” with your vehicle’s functionality, it’s time to start considering the problem and finding a way to fix it.

That said, if you’re having some car trouble, it is important to know what the most common types of transmission problems are so that you can easily diagnose them and get them fixed. Here is a list of 10 symptoms of transmission trouble and what signs you should look for.

Lack of Response or Shifting Delay

Ever notice that while driving that the car hesitates or refuses to go into gear? If you have, then there is definitely something wrong. The moment a driver shifts from park to drive the car should immediately go into the proper gear. For automatic transmissions, you might notice that when shifting into drive or park that there is a delay before you feel the gear engage. This is usually a transmission-based concern.

Manual transmissions can have the same lacking response issue, but after shifting into gear the engine’s RPMs will surge, but the car won’t move as fast as the engine sounds like it’s going. This is usually caused by a clutch that needs to be replaced, but may sometimes point to a more severe problem.

Related:

Whining, Clunking and Humming

It’s impossible to say exactly what your car will sound like when there is trouble with your transmission, but one thing is for sure, you’ll get a “I haven’t heard that sound before” feeling when you notice it. The sounds that are produced vary widely between different makes and models, but the best way to describe them is that you’ll probably hear a humming, buzzing or whining noise.

Manual transmissions will emit sounds that can be described as being slightly more mechanical, louder and abrupt sounding. A clunking sounds when you shift gears almost always lies within a transmission, while constant velocity joins or the differential may be the source if the clunking is coming from the underside of your car.

As mentioned already, it is always best to get the problem diagnosed and repaired as soon as possible and not wait until later when you “find the time” or “have the money”. If you wait until later what would have been a relatively inexpensive repair can easily become a much more costly one.

Leaking/Low Fluid

New Automatic Transmission FluidA leak is probably the most recognizable symptom and should be repaired as soon as possible. Letting the fluid leak is one of the most common causes transmission break down. Automatic transmission fluid (ATF) is the life-blood of a transmission as it lubricates, cleans and conditions the seals and acts as hydraulic fluid. Without it (or even if it gets too low), the engine will seize up and stop working completely.

ATF is bright red in color, clear and smells somewhat sweet if everything is working correctly. If this is what you find on your driveway, then all that needs to be fixed is the hole. If the fluid is dark and/or has a burnt smell then it’s time to get the fluid changed or flushed and repairs might be required.

To check if you’re running low on fluid, take your car for a short drive to warm it up and then lift the hood and read the dipstick (be sure the vehicle is on level ground). Unlike motor oil, transmission fluid is not burned off or consumed by a car so if the level is low then there is a leak somewhere that must be patched. It is recommended to top up the fluid anyway even if the leak still exists to make sure there is enough fluid for the transmission to function properly until you get it fixed.

Complete Guide: Transmission Fluid Leak Causes & Repair Cost.

To check the fluid level for a manual transmission, you must check at the transmission case (usually through the fill plug) – not with a dipstick under the hood.

Grinding or Shaking

A car is supposed to run smoothly and without any shaking, or jerking, and there is not supposed to be any grinding sounds. These all suggest that there is a problem with the gears. Manual transmissions commonly indicate problems by making a grinding noise or feeling when you shift into a gear. If the grinding occurs after engaging the clutch and shifting, this can be sign that the clutch may need to be replaced or adjusted. That said, it can also point towards several other issues including damaged or worn out gear synchronizes.

Automatic transmissions act a little differently. Instead of making a grinding noise, you will likely feel it take some time to wiggle into gear at first instead of the typical smooth transitions. As the problem gets worse, the transitions into the next gear become more jarring and involve more shaking. There are a few other reasons for grinding or shaking, but the appropriate course of action is still to have it inspected and serviced.

Burning Smell

Sign of Transmission ProblemsAny burning smell coming from your car is a cause for concern. Overheating transmission fluid is one of the causes of a burning smell. Transmission fluid helps keep the parts lubricated and cooled so that they don’t get worn out and damaged.

If the fluid breaks down, the system runs too hot which it results in increased friction and corrosive activity as well as the build up of additional sludge and debris. If this is not taken care of, the transmission will eventually damage itself enough to break down completely. The end result is an expensive replacement. Common causes include low fluid level or using the incorrect brand/type of fluid. To check for these, see the instructions in the section on Low/Leaking Fluid above.

Refuses to Go Into Gear

If the car will not shift after engaging the clutch and trying to move the stick, take a look at the fluid to make sure that it is at the right level. Other causes include using the incorrect thickness (type) of fluid and the clutch linkage or shift cables needing adjustment. The source of the problem could also be the vehicle’s computer system.

If you’ve already inspected the fluid, you can try resetting it. To do this, detach the battery and let it stand for thirty minutes. Then, reattach and allow the system to reset itself. This usually takes around thirty minutes. If this doesn’t work either, then it’s time to take it to a mechanic.

Check Engine Light

Check Engine LightThe check engine light located on your car’s dashboard is a great early indicator that something is about to go wrong (or already has) with your car, and in particular with your transmission. While the light turns on for a number of reasons other than transmission issues, it very important not to ignore this helpful warning sign.

There are sensors placed in many areas of a car’s engine that alert the computer if it senses unusual activity coming from a particular process. The sensors on a transmission can pick up on the slightest jerks and vibrations than you are not able to see or feel.

Take the vehicle in and have it inspected. They can take look and immediately tell what is happening through the use of similar diagnostic tools and the car’s computer.

If you’d like to diagnose the problem yourself (and possibly save yourself a trip to the mechanic’s) you can buy a diagnostic scan tool that is plugged into the instrument panel on the driver’s side and return a code that corresponds to the part that needs attention. Whatever you do, do not assume that the check engine light can wait because it might be warning you of a serious problem in the near future.

Related:
O/D Off Light Flashing On and Off

Transmission Noisy in Neutral

Luckily, a transmission that is noisy (goes “bump”) when it is in neutral could have an inexpensive, simple solution such as adding some fluid or changing it. This could do the trick, as it does for several other issues on this list. If that doesn’t work, the transmission may require professional attention to replace worn out parts, most commonly the bearings, worn gear teeth or the reverse idler gear.

Gears Slipping

A transmission stays in a designated gear until a shift is performed by the driver (manual) or the computer (automatic). If the transmission is spontaneously slipping in an out of gear (or simply popping into neutral) while driving, I don’t need to tell you that this is a serious safety risk. When you need to step on the gas to avoid a dangerous situation, you need power delivered to the wheels, end of story. The cause can be the link that holds the gears is worn or broken. Get your car inspected and repaired as soon as possible.

Dragging Clutch

A dragging clutch describes the symptom experienced by manual transmissions that involves the clutch disk failing to disengage the flywheel when the clutch pedal is pressed. The clutch is still spinning with the engine which makes it anywhere from difficult to impossible to change gears. This difficulty is accompanied by a grinding noise each time you try to change gears.

Fortunately, this problem is considerably less expensive to repair than many other issues. More often than not, the cause of this is too much slack in the clutch pedal. With too much slack available, the linkage between the clutch disk and pedal can’t pull the clutch disk away from the flywheel.

Has your transmission completely failed? Here are your 8 options to repair, replace, junk it, etc.

How Much Does a Remanufactured Transmission Cost?

On average, a remanufactured transmission will cost between $1,300 and $3,400, depending on the make and model of your vehicle. The cost of labor to install it is in addition to the price of the unit and will typically run between $400 and $800.

It is more expensive to replace your transmission with a reman than to have your transmission rebuilt for almost all makes & models.

However, if there is significant internal damage, the additional components and time required to get it back on the road may cause the final price of a transmission rebuild to be higher than a remanufactured transmission.

Here are the other differences between rebuilt vs. remanufactured transmissions.

Conclusion

It is important to keep up a regular maintenance schedule for your car. Many times major expensive repairs can be avoided if the vehicle is properly maintained. This is especially true if you notice something unusual. The car should be taken in immediately for service.

Brushing up on your knowledge of transmissions (at least the basics) is highly recommended as it can help you save money by avoiding costly inspections and doing simple procedures such as changing transmission fluid yourself as well as making you knowledgeable enough to avoid being over-repaired, over charged or simply ripped off.

Fair Replacement Transmission Cost by Vehicle

  1. Use the Year / Make / Model lookup tool to determine what transmission your vehicle has.

  2. Find your transmission model in the table below for fair prices from reputable suppliers. Also fair labor cost for local installation at a local auto repair shop.

  3. Get a free estimate on a remanufactured transmission by email.

Fair Remanufactured Transmission Price Ranges by Transmission Model Updated May 1, 2018

transmission repair cost
Download Replacement Transmission Cost Guide PDF

More Information by Transmission Type

GMFordChryslerImport / Pre 1995
4L60E4R75E / 4R75W42RLEMercedes 722.6
4L65E4F27EA604 / 41TENissan RE5R05A
4L80E4R10046RENissan CVT
4T45E4R44E47REAisin AW55-50SN
4T405R55E / 5R55N48REAOD
4T65E5R55S / 5R55W45RFEA4LD
4T65E-HD5R110W545RFETH400
4T80E6F3562TETH350
5L40E6F5065RFEC6
6L806R6065RFET56
6L906R8068RFE700R4
6T40AX4N / AX4SW5A580 / NAG1AODE
6T45AWF21E4OD
6T70CD4E
6T75EFNR5
Allison 1000TF-80SC

Reman Transmission Pricing Table

TransmissionStreet Smart TransmissionAutozoneAdvance Auto Parts
4L60E / 4L65E148015071599
4L80E184017891799
4T45E / 4T40E146014001400
4T65E157015001500
5L40E (Exc. BMW)208021002100
6T40 / 6T45222025802580
6T75E / 6T70222024002400
6L80 / 6L90232024502480
Allison 1000184027802800
4R75E/W 4R70W168016001700
4R100 / E4OD188018001799
4F27E153018561650
5R55S/N/W/E187018701850
5R110W249032503250
AX4N / AX4S156015001500
CD4E183017901800
FNR5 / AWTF-80188019802000
6F50 / 6F35232025602550
6R60229022842280
6R80249030123200
AWF21228024282500
6R140n/an/an/a
41TE (A604)143014501450
46RE (A518)166016001600
47RE (A618)204019902000
48RE261028002800
42RLE184017001700
545RFE188018501900
62TE248028002800
65RFE244024372550
68RFE342040004000
W5A580 / NAG1249045103000
Nissan RE5R05A282032993329
Nissan CVT266032823674
AW55-50SNCall29002900
722.6262028003000

Problems by Make & Model

Model
Acura CL
Acura MDX
Acura TL
BMW X5
Buick Enclave
Buick Lacrosse
Buick Lucerne
Buick Rendezvous
Buick Rainier
Buick Regal
Buick Terraza
Cadillac CTS
Cadillac DTS
Cadillac Escalade
Cadillac SRX
Cadillac STS
Cadillac XTS
Chevy Avalanche
Chevy Blazer
Chevy C1500
Chevy C2500 HD
Chevy C2500 HD
Chevy Camaro
Chevy Cavalier
Chevy Cobalt
Chevy Colorado
Chevy Equinox
Chevy Express 1500
Chevy Express 2500
Chevy Express 3500
Chevy Express 4500
Chevy HHR
Chevy Impala
Chevy K1500
Chevy K2500 Suburban
Chevy Malibu
Chevy Monte Carlo
Chevy S10
Chevy Silverado 1500
Chevy Silverado 2500 HD
Chevy Silverado 3500 HD
Chevy SSR
Chevy Suburban
Chevy Tahoe
Chevy Trailblazer
Chevy Traverse
Chevy Uplander
Chevy Venture
Chevy W3500
Chevy W4500
Chrysler 200
Chrysler 300 - 300M
Chrysler Aspen
Chrysler Pacifica
Chrysler PT Cruiser
Chrysler Sebring
Chrysler Town & Country
Dodge Avenger
Dodge B1500
Dodge B2500
Dodge B3500
Dodge Challenger
Dodge Charger
Dodge Dakota
Dodge Durango
Dodge Journey
Dodge Magnum
Dodge Grand Caravan
Dodge Nitro
Dodge Ram 1500
Dodge Ram 2500
Dodge Ram 3500
Dodge Sprinter 2500
Dodge Sprinter 3500
Ford Crown Victoria
Ford E-150
Ford E-250
Ford E-350
Ford E-450
Ford Edge
Ford Escape
Ford Excursion
Ford Expedition
Ford Explorer
Ford F150
Ford F250
Ford F350
Ford F450
Ford F550
Ford F53 Chassis
Ford Five Hundred
Ford Flex
Ford Focus
Ford Freestar
Ford Fusion
Ford Mustang
Ford Police Interceptor
Ford Ranger
Ford Taurus
Ford Thunderbird
Ford Windstar
GMC Acadia
GMC C1500
GMC C2500
GMC C3500
GMC Canyon
GMC Envoy
GMC G1500
GMC G2500
GMC G3500
GMC K1500
GMC K2500
GMC Savanna 1500
GMC Savanna 2500
GMC Savanna 3500
GMC Sierra 1500
GMC Sierra 2500 HD
GMC Sierra 3500 HD
GMC Sonoma
GMC Suburban
GMC Terrain
GMC W3500
GMC W4500
GMC Yukon
Honda Accord
Honda Civic
Honda Odyssey
Hummer H2
Hummer H3
Hyundai Santa Fe
Hyundai Elantra
Jeep Commander
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Jeep Liberty
Jeep Wrangler
Lexus RX300
Lincoln Aviator
Lincoln LS
Lincoln Mark LT
Lincoln MKC
Lincoln MKS
Lincoln MKT
Lincoln MKX
Lincoln MKZ
Lincoln Town Car
Lincoln Zephyr
Mazda 2
Mazda 3
Mazda 5
Mazda 6
Mazda 626
Mazda CX-7
Mazda CX-9
Mazda Tribute
Mercury Grand Marquis
Mercury Marauder
Mercury Mariner
Mercury Milan
Mercury Montego
Mercury Mountaineer
Mercury Sable
Mini Cooper
Nissan Altima
Nissan Armada
Nissan Frontier
Nissan Maxima
Nissan Murano
Nissan Pathfinder
Nissan Quest
Nissan Rogue
Nissan Sentra
Nissan Titan
Nissan Versa
Nissan Xterra
Pontiac Aztek
Pontiac Bonneville
Pontiac Firebird
Pontiac G5
Pontiac G6
Pontiac G8
Pontiac Grand Am
Pontiac Grand Prix
Pontiac GTO
Pontiac Montana
Pontiac Torrent
Pontiac Vibe
Ram 1500
Ram 2500
Ram 3500
Ram C/V
Ram Dakota
Saturn Aura
Saturn Ion
Saturn Outlook
Saturn Relay
Saturn Vue
Toyota Camry
Toyota Corolla
Volkswagen Jetta
Volkswagen Routan

 

OBD2 Transmission Trouble Codes

DTC Code
P0218
P0702
P0705
P0730
P0740

Over to You

Which of these problems are you experiencing?

133 thoughts on “10 Most Common Transmission Problems & How to Fix Them

  1. I have a 2004 silverado 2500hd 6.0 sometimes it will go into drive sometimes it won’t. If I go from drive back to neutral then back to drive it will go into gear then there times it goes right into gear and I wont have the problem all the time but It doesnt snap right into drive like it does in reverse. Thank you hopefully you can help me figure this out

  2. I just had a cvaxel shaft replaced on the front right side of my 2004 Chevy Cavalier. The 1-1/2 hr job took 2-1/2 days. When I got it back it was in worse shape then before it was worked on. I had someone else look at it and he mentioned a small part next to the axel shaft that actually goes to the inside of the transmission. Sorry can’t recall the name. Do you know what part he’s talking about and can it fixed. My trans slipped, my breaks went out, and my starter is messing up because this little part is very loose. Please help… I’m desperate!!!

  3. I have a 98 Honda accord automatic 2.3l lx. I took my car to have my transmission replaced with a low milaged used one and the car moves in reverse but in drive it locks up at 15 mph. They have replaced it 3 times with exact same results and can’t figure out what it’s causing it. I am out of time and money, can someone please help?

  4. I have a 2004 Lexus GX470 and the issue I have is that at times, which I notice it most often occurring is if I’m zipping around downtown streets and come up on stoplight, while I’m sitting at a stop the car will jerk, enough that it almost feels like someone has hit my bumper. I get the feeling that it may be something like the trannys downshifting is delayed but I’m not sure. Any thoughts?? I liken it to a klunking sound but it only happens at a stop, usually a quick stop. Thanks in advance!

  5. I have a 2004 Kia Sorento automatic it has suddenly stopped driving in the forward gear, but is ok in reverse what could be the problem Dave

  6. my ford escape xlt 2008 is on the recall list. every time I start it, it moves for about 1minute or two up until it hits 20 to 30 rpm. for a few minutes. I stop it and start it again and it moves again

  7. I have a 1993 Toyota Camry it goes forward when in drive but when in reverse it won’t move. What’s wrong with my car?

  8. Everything works fine for about 1/2 mile and then the car stops going forward. I turn off the car, wait a minute, start up and it is good for another 4-6 blocks. (repeat & repeat) After I turn off the car, I have to unlock the door to get out. If I start it and let the car idle for a bit, it won’t move after shifting gears. Turn it off, wait a minute, and it will move. HELP. It’s a 2004 Impala with over 250,000 miles. How can I fix it ??

  9. I have a 2009 jeep patriot that wont drive on the highway because if i gets up to about 60mph it will over heat and then only go 20mph and I can barley get it home been thinking it is the transmission or the fluid but have no clue where to start. It also makes tons of noise when I accelerate just want to maybe get a quote or know where to start.

  10. My 06 jeep cherokee Laredo was just bought off a used lot and was driving great no signs of any transmission issue’s untill…the next morning i went out to go somewhere and it wozld not move at all? The esc says its in the correct gear and even though it says that this modle doesn’t have a dipstick, that its sealed it does and when checked its reading way above the cold mark’s, hell way above the hot mark’s and i didnt think that this dipstick went to this trans but i measured from the bottom of the pan to top of fill level with a super long zip tie and its 77mm up from the bottom cold becouse it wont move to warm the fluid up, my buddy came over with a scanner and got these codes p0700 po841 so it dont say exactly what it is vould anyone help with the diagnoses and what can i do at home to fix, could it be a fluid level problem? If it was ti high would it act like it was low on fluid? My wife was so mad she at the guy qho sold us the jeep will not lift one of anything to help us,but she got in and reved the engine to about 4thousand r’s and it moved and after doing that against my objections it did ho up and down the ally one time but slipped and wouldnt come out off first im sure it was probably in limp mode and that was days ago and will not move again ??? Frustrated with everything amd myself gor buying this in tfp????

  11. I have a 1998 Oldsmobile 88 W/ a 3800 series2 V6 an a 4T65E transmission. Which sensors should I check first , that the computer reads. That would make transmission go into limp mode!!! I’ve read plenty of info on this subject an model, but still can’t seem to fix the issue. I don’t want to tear apart the trans until last resort.

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