7 most common car gearbox problems

7 common gear box problems

7 most common car gearbox problems

7 common transmission problems
Vehicle Drive Train (Roseautorepair.com)

The car’s transmission is called so because it transfers/transmits the engine’s kinetic energy into the wheels therefore allowing the car to move smoothly. This mainly happens because the engine and the wheels usually move at different speeds hence it is necessary for the car to have an intermediary that helps transfer the right amount of engine speed to the wheels.

Due to this intervention, the gearbox or the transmission is the fastest wearing part of the car due to friction and heat. This wear leads to the cars transmission issues. Today we will look into some of the top issues and symptoms that could lead to a breakdown in you car’s the transmission.

1.Shaking or grinding noises

When the gear box is ok it usually does not produce any sound when you change gears however if the car shakes or shudders while you drive this could be an issue with your car missing a gear. This is especially true for automatic transmissions where by the car can move from gear 1 to 3 missing our gear 2. In this case very little can  be done to salvage the gearbox. Some CVT and automatic gearboxes can be reprogrammed to remedy the problem  so that the progression of gears is sequential. You may also need to have the solenoids in the transmission checked. Not sure anybody sells spares for these transmission solenoids here.

For manual gearboxes the grinding sound produced will mainly be an indicator that the clutch may need to be replaced or adjusted. However you may also need to ask the mechanic to check out the gearbox synchronizes which may  be worn.

2. Burning smell from the transmission

The transmission oil is as important as the engine oil for any car out there however there is a point of caution with this. If you use the wrong brand or type of transmission fluid other the one advised by the manufacturer of your vehicle you may be looking at very expensive repairs later on. The burning smell will usually be as a result of either low levels of transmission fluid or worn out fluid that easily breaks down as the parts move within the transmission housing. This greatly increases the amount of metal chippings in the fluid that exacerbate gear wear as you continue driving your car. Just check it every 3000 kms and replace the transmission fluid every 15,000 kms.

7 common gearbox problems
ATF fluid (Pixels1.com)

3. Car not going into gear

If the car is not shifting into gear have a look at the level of the fluid. Some cars can automatically detect problems with the fluid and disengage as a safe mode measure of avoiding gearbox damage.

For manual cars you can look at the clutch linkages and shift cables. Sometimes these things just need to be adjusted .

In some cases you may also need to check the car’s computer system, this is because softwares develops bugs that may need to be removed by resetting it. To do this you just need to disconnect the battery and reconnect after 15 minutes or so . If the problem persists you may need to run the computer through a diagnostics program to identify what is wrong.

4. Noise at Neutral

This can be a simple indicator of low transmission fluids or a  need to change your transmission fluid. However it could also be a sign that some of your transmission bearings require some attention as they may be worn out.

5. Slipping gears

Slipping gears can be about the worst fault your transmission can have. This is because slipping gears make the car unpredictable especially when the car spontaneously goes back to the neutral gear  while in an emergency situation.If your car moves from one gear to another without your intervention or the computer’s intervention (in the case of a manual gearbox) you need to have the gearbox links inspected, in the case of a CVT there is very little that can be done…well at least locally.

7 common gear box problems6. 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.

7. Turbo like sound coming from the transmission on acceleration

If your car produces a turbo like/supercharge like sound while accelerating yet the car is not a turbo , you will be required to change the transmission fluid. This is usually a simple solution to a very annoying little problem. This sound is usually accompanied by slight loss in power  and sluggishness in the car accelerating.


The simplest way to ensure that your car’s transmission runs fine for years to come is to change the oil as required. Use the recommended oil never use alternatives. Most manufacturers engineer specific transmission characteristics that go all the way to the oil’s viscosity mineral content etc. You need to ensure that you follow the recommendations to the latter.



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