Transmission slipping cost

Transmission slipping cost DEFAULT

Is Your Transmission Slipping?

Signs Your Transmission is Slipping

If your car’s automatic transmission is showing signs of slipping, then you should have it checked right away.

image of transmission open, cross-section so you can see internal workings.

What might seem to be a minor annoyance can turn into a bigger, more expensive problem down the road. Transmission slipping does not always mean your transmission is going to fail, but it is a signal that maintenance is required. Because your car’s transmission is one of its most complicated systems, it is important to accurately diagnose the cause of the symptoms.

If your transmission is slipping, be aware of the signs.

There are some common signs that you can look for. Signs of slipping can appear in a number of forms when you are driving, or even sitting at idle. Signs include:

  • Engine revs or chugs
  • Slow, weak or delayed acceleration
  • Difficulty shifting gears or hard shifting
  • Grinding, whining or other strange noises
  • Won’t go in reverse
  • Burned or strange smells
  • Check engine light

What does it feel like when the transmission is slipping?

When the transmission slips, it might feel like the vehicle is slow to respond. Sometimes it doesn’t respond at all when you press the gas pedal. The noticeable change in the transmission’s performance might be accompanied by a noise or change in pitch as it changes gears. If your car changes gears suddenly without any reason or action on your part, it’s time to take it to a mechanic, because this situation can be dangerous.

Is it safe to drive with a slipping transmission?

If your vehicle unexpectedly shifts gears while you’re driving, you should get to a mechanic as soon as possible. This is a potentially dangerous situation because the vehicle has become unreliable. If it starts to shake or become difficult to control, please pull over and get to safety. Many AAMCO Utah service centers will assist with towing.

If you experience any of these issues, your car is probably showing signs of a transmission problem. Knowing the signs is half the solution. Your next step is to book an appointment with your local Utah AAMCO transmission and total car care service center. Have a technician inspect your vehicle (usually a free diagnosis). This way you avoid causing more damage to the transmission and possibly costing a lot more money.

Here are some reasons your transmission is slipping.

If your transmission is slipping, grinding, making loud sounds that you know are just bad, chances are it needs a thorough diagnosis.

  • Low, worn out or burned transmission fluid
  • Solenoid problems
  • Worn or broken transmission bands
  • Clutch problems
  • Worn out gears
  • Torque converter issues

Most transmission problems are a result of low, worn out, or burned transmission fluid.

Transmission fluid is the most important component to a healthy transmission.

image of hand pouring transmission fluid through funnel as for the good car maintenance.It is the number one thing you can easily take care of. Check and change the transmission fluid as directed by your vehicle’s manufacturer. Transmissions don’t last forever, but they can last a long time and run well if you take care of them. With minimum effort and not much maintenance you’ll probably get about 100,000 miles out of it. That might seem like a long time, but it only takes five years to put 100,000 miles on your car, at an average of driving 20,000 miles per year.

If your car seems sluggish and just doesn’t drive right, check the transmission fluid. If the fluid is low, worn out, or has burned, you should consider getting a fluid flush. Take of the transmission fluid and your transmission will operate for a really long time.

A defective solenoid can cause the transmission to slip.

What’s a transmission solenoid?

A transmission solenoid is an electro-magnetic component used to control the flow of transmission fluid in the transmission.

Every time a gear is shifted, the car’s computer – Engine Control Module (ECM) or Transmission Control Module (TCM) – actuates a transmission solenoid, which pushes transmission fluid into the valve body to engage the right gear.

Through this process the transmission solenoid regulates how much fluid is passed through the transmission. If the solenoid malfunctions, not enough fluid is pumped into the transmission, which will result in the transmission overheating and slipping.

A defective solenoid has to be replaced. A thorough diagnosis of your transmission slipping issues should be able to find the faulty solenoid, but sometimes the electrical system can be the issue. Either way, the solenoid should be checked if all other issues have been addressed and your transmission still slips.

Transmission bands can wear out and cause slipping.

What are transmission bands?

Transmission bands and clutches must engage and release in precisely regulated time for the transmission to perform optimally. Transmission bands can become worn or broken, which will cause the transmission to slip. Bands are what link the gears in the automatic transmission together. To fix this problem, the defective bands should be replaced.

Sometimes the bands are fine and only need adjustment. The clutch plates might also need to be replaced or adjusted. Bands and clutch plates throughout the transmission and in the torque converter may become worn or burned out from inadequate transmission fluid.

Here again the importance of transmission fluid becomes obvious. Take care of your transmission fluid and you’ve won half the battle against transmission wear and expensive breakdowns.

Clutch wear can cause manual and automatic transmissions to slip.

Automatic and manual transmissions both make use of clutches, but…

image of a torque converter internal.An automatic transmission has a torque converter instead of a main clutch. The engine and transmission connect at the bell housing, which contains the torque converter for automatic transmissions, as opposed to a clutch for manual transmissions. The torque converter joins the engine and the transmission so the wheels will turn. Torque converters and clutches rely on clean transmission fluid delivered on time at the right pressure to shift gears and make the transmission perform efficiently.

Transmission gears wear out and start slipping.

Low or burned out transmission fluid is a major cause of gear wear and tear.

Over time gears can wear out – especially if they have been running hot and inefficiently due to lack of or worn out transmission fluid. Slipping gears are usually due to normal wear and tear, which causes them to not engage properly and to slip in and out of sync. It is rare, but there might be a malfunctioning set of gears in the transmission, which is usually due to bad original manufacturing. Worn or rounded out gears don’t properly link together so this can cause a bumpy shift and slippage as you accelerate and drive.

Torque converter issues will cause the transmission to slip.

The torque converter changes the engine’s power into torque that the transmission can use.

It’s a hard working, important component to the overall operation of the transmission. Without the torque converter, the wheels don’t get power or turn. Torque converters, like most other parts in a slipping transmission, become worn over time. Transmission fluid must flow through the torque converter at the right times and amounts – if it fails, the transmission will not only start slipping, it might display other problems, such as just not going into gear, burning, smoking, jumping gears while driving, or blowout.

How much does it cost to fix a slipping transmission?

AAMCO Utah Transmission Repair Centers Can Help

image of AAMCO mechanic greeting with a smile, tip of the hat.Only a trained, qualified technician can really get to the root of the matter when it comes to an automatic transmission. Oftentimes your car’s transmission problems can be solved with a fluid change or our proprietary Power Purge® service, and that is what we will do. Taking the time to accurately identify the cause of the problem will save a lot of trouble in applying the right solution.

The AAMCO Transmission service centers of Utah specialize in diagnosing and fixing transmissions of all makes, models, and configurations, from manual to automatic, CVT, AWD, FWD, and 4x4. We run diagnostics and do a complete inspection to find the issues affecting your transmission. We recommend only the work that needs to be done and won’t do anything until after we’ve discussed your options with you and determined the best, most reliable course of action to fix your car and get you back on the road.

Call or book an appointment online to get started.



There is no component more complex and essential than a car’s transmission. Automatic transmissions are responsible for shifting gears without driver input to change gear ratios in an efficient manner as the vehicle moves forward, freeing the driver from having to shift gears manually.

Need a replacement transmission? Get an estimate for replacement transmissions and local installation. Look up your transmission model by vehicle make and model.

What Transmission Do I Have?

Transmissions are needed because internal combustion engines always output the greatest amount of power at a high rotational speed. At this high rotational speed, it is impossible for this high power to be driven to the wheels to be used for acceleration, low speeds or starting.

Using gear ratios, an automatic transmission reduces the engine’s rotational speed and increases the torque (or “power” to the wheels) in the process, using a torque converter as a fluid coupler.

In This Guide

Vehicles are usually described as 5 or 6 “speed” meaning then have that many gear ratios to allow the vehicle to travel at the full range of speeds required and to make use of the engine’s output power as efficiently as possible.

Due to their complexity, constant use and function within a vehicle’s operation, transmissions experience a lot of wear and tear. Add to this the fact that many owner’s forget to check and change the fluid on a regular basis and it’s easy to understand why so many people have transmission problems.

Average Cost of Rebuild, Repair, and Replace:

Transmission replacement is one of the most expensive jobs done by any mechanic. According to Transmission Repair Cost Guide readers, the average cost of transmission replacement ranges from $1800 to $3400.

A used/salvage transmission ranges from $800 to $1500, a rebuilt transmission from $1100 to $2800 and a remanufactured from $1300 to $3400.

The labor to remove and replace a transmission ranges from $500 to $1200 for 4 to 10 hours of billed time.

Differences between rebuilt vs remanufactured?Check out our complete guide.

Rebuilds can cost just as much as a replacement depending on the extent of the damage. The upper end of the range is typically for the replacement of a high end vehicle’s transmission or a complete rebuild after a major mechanical failure.

Basic repair jobs are on the lower side, from $300 to $1400. For example, fixing a manual transmission often only requires a new clutch, a $800 to $1500 job.

Ways To Save Money

-Buying a remanufactured transmission yourself and only pay a local repair shop for the labor to install it (instead of paying the markup on a unit they buy). Use the guide below.

Visit our current transmission costs page to see what people like you have paid or been quoted recently to have their transmission replaced.

What Transmission Do I Have?


Reman Transmission Pricing – Links to Supplier Transmission Prices

This table above shows how much reputable suppliers typically charge for a remanufactured transmission, with direct links to the supplier’s website for that model transmission.

More Information by Transmission Type

Factors that Affect the Cost

The cost of transmission repair varies widely based on a number of factors, the most important of which is the type and extent of the repairs being performed by the mechanic.

If the transmission needs to be completely replaced or rebuilt, drivers can expect to pay several thousand dollars for parts and skilled labor, while a few minor repairs and a fluid change will only be a couple hundred dollars.

It also depends on the make of the vehicle, with US domestic models such as GM, Ford, Chrysler generally cost less than imported vehicles such as BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagen.

Extent of the Damage
What the car has been through can also affect the price as newer cars that have been well maintained will cost less than those that have been through tough times.

Old vs New
Considerably older or rarer cars are harder to find parts for, which also increases the cost.

Manual vs Automatic
Manual transmissions generally cost less to repair/replace than automatic transmissions.

Some shops charge higher prices than others for the same work (due to brand, location, reputation, etc.)

Your Location
Finally, the driver’s location will contribute a great deal to the overall cost of the procedure. Areas with higher costs of living, higher demand of services and/or lower availability of skilled technicians will charge higher hourly labor costs, escalating the overall price.

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 $500 and $1200.

It is usually more expensive to replace your transmission with a remanufactured transmission than to have your transmission rebuilt at a transmission shop. However, if there is significant internal damage, the additional components (hard parts) required to get it back on the road can 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.

As mentioned previously, when deciding whether to rebuild or replace a transmission it is important to know that either option can be more cost effective, depending on how complex and extensive the issues are (it can take a long time to troubleshoot and repair some problems, in which case a replacement would save you money).

Making this decision is difficult for the average consumer, which is why it’s so important to find a trustworthy mechanic.

Symptoms of a Problem

There are a number of symptoms of a damaged or worn out transmission to watch for, some of which are listed below.

Many problems can be solved/avoided by regularly changing a car’s transmission fluid or getting the transmission flushed on a regular basis as recommended by the owner’s manual (recommendations are typically between every 30-50,000 miles).

A single mechanical failure can cause the car’s engine to shut down and disable it entirely, so it is important to watch for these signs and get your car inspected at the first sign of trouble.

  • Transmission is slipping between gears while driving or popping back to neutral
  • Unusual grinding/clunking/humming noises – especially when in neutral
  • Fluid smells like it is burned
  • Clutch is dragging – clutch stays engaged and causes grinding noises when trying to shift
  • Grinding or thumping when gear changes instead of smooth transitions
  • Lag/delay between gear changes and/or higher than normal RPMs for a given speed or gear change

In the event that a transmission does begin to fail in some way (or fails completely), mechanics will often recommend a replacement, a rebuilding process, or other smaller repairs to ensure that the car will function properly and reliably. Each type of repair has different procedures and costs associated with it.

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

Automatic Transmission

A full transmission replacement is one of the most expensive procedures a mechanic can perform on a vehicle. The cost of the other option – getting a transmission rebuilt – can be significantly less if the problem(s) can be fixed by simple procedures that deal with easy-to-replace parts.

However, it can also cost just as much or more than replacement in cases when there are major issues that need to be addressed. It all depends on how comprehensive the repairs are: from installing a few new parts to a complete overhaul.

Rebuilding involves removing the transmission, opening the case, inspecting and cleaning all the components and replacing the “soft” parts that are damaged or worn out. Some of these parts include seals, O-rings, bands, gaskets, valves, clutch components and filters.

Drums, shafts, pumps, converters, the casing and gears are referred to as the “hard parts” and rarely break because they are much more durable and rarely break. This process takes no more than 2-3 days in most cases.

If problems are caught early on, minor repairs are far more budget-friendly as they do not require complete removal/disassembling or replacement of “hard” parts, though the costs vary depending on the make and model of the vehicle and several other factors discussed below.

When it’s time to get a car’s transmission fixed, there are a few things to keep in mind in order to ensure high value, great work, and long-lasting results.

The Process: How a Transmission is Rebuilt

The process of rebuilding a transmission is rather lengthy and labor-intensive. Mechanics must disassemble the transmission to look for problems and replace the parts that are causing it to not function properly. Through this process, the part(s) causing the mechanical failure are eventually found and replaced instead of having to install a brand new transmission.

Generally speaking, there are three different aspects that must be checked before any transmission rebuild or replacement:

1) Changing the Fluid
The first is probably the easiest, and definitely the most affordable: changing the transmission fluid.

The cause of many problems is low or dirty transmission fluid, which can also cause the vehicle’s fuel economy decrease. This causes shifting to become noticeably “stickier” and, in some cases, the car will change gears and stay stuck in neutral. This “fix” often costs less than $100, though many vehicle owners find that they can do it themselves.

2) Checking for Trouble Codes
Next, the mechanic checks the vehicle’s computer system that controls automatic shifting (for automatics). Transmission slipping and hard shifts can actually be caused by the computer if it is not reading the RPM correctly. Sensors can be easily replaced without disassembling a transmission, so this is the second easiest (and cheapest) repair that can fix the problem(s).

3) Test Drive & Inspection
After a number of diagnostic tests including test driving the vehicle and a comprehensive inspection, the technician will remove the transmission from the vehicle and disassemble it.

Each part is inspected, cleaned and replaced if necessary (especially if it is outdated). Parts such as seals and gaskets are replaced anyway. The electrical system is tested and any required repairs are made.

If the problem was found and none of the “hard” components require attention, the unit is assembled and reinstalled into the engine. After another test drive to ensure everything is working properly, the car is returned to its owner.

Check if the Warranty is Still Valid

This might seem obvious to some, but if your vehicle is still relatively new/low mileage you should call the dealership or check the owner’s manual to see if your transmission’s problem is still covered by your powertrain warranty before calling a mechanic.

A typical powertrain warranty is for 5 years or 50K miles (whichever comes first), but they vary widely depending on the manufacturer and can range anywhere from 4-10 years and 50,000-100,000 miles. The following components are typically covered: transmission case and all internal parts, torque converter, converter housing, automatic control module, transfer case and all internal parts, seals, gaskets.

A warranty will cover the cost of repairs (parts and labor) if the damage was caused by poor workmanship or a manufacturer defect. However, if the vehicle’s maintenance schedule was not followed then the warranty might be void and not be honored.

Parts that experience significant wear-and-tear and are expected to be replaced at regular intervals such as CV joints and boots and clutches are excluded from most warranties. Certain components may or may not be covered depending upon the manufacturer of your vehicle. Refer to your owner’s manual for a complete list of what is and is not covered.

Find the Right Repair Shop

Due to their complexity and how difficult they are to service, choosing the right mechanic to handle your transmission can make the difference between a long-lasting repair and one of questionable quality.

As with any car maintenance, it’s best to get a quote from a certified technician or repair center before making an assumptions. In fact, it’s generally a good idea to gather multiple quotes and compare prices in order to make a sound decision based on quality and value.

Do some research both online and locally and to find highly rated shops that have solid reputations with online reviews and your local BBB.

The cheapest service is not always the best option as some repair shops offer unrealistically low prices in order to get you into their shop so they can add hidden/additional fees onto the final price.

Consider getting friends or family to recommend a mechanic who repaired a transmission for them and did quality work.

In fact, a warranty should be the number one thing that drivers look for when choosing a repair shop.

Looking for a shop? Try our shop finder. We typically recommend shops that are willing to install transmissions on behalf of customers.

Due to the wide range and severity of problems that can occur and the variance of costs involved, it is advised to get mechanics to explain exactly what is wrong with your transmission and what has to be done to fix it. They should also be able to give you a clear estimate as to what the price will be once they have done basic diagnostic tests.

Finally, drivers should pay attention to the appearance of the repair shop itself. Good repair shops are clean, inviting, and customer-centered. Less attractive options are dirty, poorly operated, and not as focused on the customers they’re supposed to be serving.

With careful attention to certifications, warranties, and shop conditions, it’s easy to find a low-cost, high-value transmission repair shop that can get the job done right.

More Information by Make & Model

What to Read Next

Find a Shop

A good repair shop is hard to find. We can help. Click Find a Shop and we’ll give you a step by step guide on how to find a great repair shop.

Need a replacement transmission? Get an estimate for replacement transmissions and local installation. Look up your transmission model by vehicle make and model.

What Transmission Do I Have?

Have a Question or Experience?

Had a repair, replacement or rebuild done in the past? Have a quote on a job and not sure if it’s too high? Have a question about a particular situation with your transmission? Post your comments below.

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Imagine this: you hop in your car, put it in Reverse, and back out of the driveway.

Then, when you go to put it in Drive, it hesitates, makes a loud “clunking” sound, and then starts acting normal again.

It sounds like you might have an issue with your transmission.

How much do transmission repairs cost?

The answer really depends on the severity of the damage. If all it needs is a fluid change, you’re looking at a cost between $80-$250. To repair a fluid leak, expect to spend between $150-$200, and for a solenoid shift replacement, $150-$400.

However, the cost to repair a transmission pales in comparison to how much you’ll spend on rebuilding or replacing one.

Sadly, if you forego a much-needed repair, you will eventually find this out the hard way.

Thankfully, in this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about transmission repairs. We will start by taking a closer look at how a transmission works.

Then, we will examine what causes them to fail and how to tell if yours is having issues.

Lastly, we will dive headfirst into each of the repair/replacement options available, and what they typically cost.

Let’s get started with the guide!

Use code: AUTOCHIMPS for $25 off!

Mobile Car Mechanic USAMobile Car Mechanic USA

What Does A Transmission Do?

manual vs automatic transmission

While an engine creates power, a transmission controls how much of it actually reaches the wheels at any given speed.

Using the gears of a bike as an example. When you shift between one to the other, the chain is temporarily lifted off, then put back in place.

This is similar to how a manual transmission works. By pressing the clutch in, it disconnects the engine from the transmission, allowing you to shift into a different gear. When you let off the clutch, it re-engages the two.

As for an automatic transmission, it is basically an automatic gear shifter that does the work for you. It uses what’s called a torque converter to determine when to shift so that when you speed up, it moves to a higher gear, and when you slow, it returns to a lower one.

If you start experiencing issues with your transmission, then it’s likely time to get it checked out. If you ignore it, it may eventually fail, meaning your car won’t be able to function.

Now that you understand the basics behind how a transmission works. Let’s look at what causes one to fail.

What Causes A Transmission To Fail?

vehicle transmission

Low Transmission Fluid

Just like an engine, a transmission requires fluid to function, which in this case is called transmission fluid. It not only acts as a lubricant but as a hydraulic fluid as well. This keeps it within a safe operating temp, facilitates gear shifts, and lubricates the moving parts.

As you might have guessed, if you’re low on transmission fluid, it will get hot, it won’t be able to shift smoothly, and the internal parts will eventually seize.

Thankfully, most tranny fluid lasts for between 30,000-60,000 miles, meaning if you’re an average driver, you only need to replace it every 2 ½-5 years. Not only that, but the cost of changing it is low, ranging between $80-$250.

Transmission Fluid Leak

This one is similar to the last in that it means your transmission doesn’t receive the essential fluid it needs. However, if your transmission is leaking fluid, you can’t simply add more, you need to fix the issue.

Thankfully, transmission fluid is red, so if you notice a puddle of red liquid under your car, it’s pretty apparent what it’s from. We’ll cover how to repair a leaking transmission, as well as how much it costs a little further in this article.

A Clogged Transmission Fluid Filter

If you didn’t know, your tranny has a filter that screens out harmful debris like dirt, dust, and metallic flakes before they continue on to wreak havoc. However, once the filter screens out enough debris, it can become clogged, rendering it useless.

Not only that, but it can also block the flow of fluid, meaning the same issue as the first two causes.

Thankfully, by changing your transmission fluid (and filter) every 30,000-60,000 miles, your tranny will remain healthy. Additionally, doing so will also allow you to catch small problems before they get worse.

Now that you know what causes a transmission to run into issues. Let’s look at a few of the most common symptoms that suggest yours is.

Symptoms Of A Faulty Transmission

modern automatic transmission

Burning Odor

It’s never a good sign if you start noticing a burning smell coming from your car. As we mentioned earlier, a lack of fluid can cause your transmission to overheat. When there’s a small amount left, it can burn, giving off a unique, sweet-smelling burning odor.

Again, catching a failing tranny while it’s in the early stages is crucial to preventing further damage, and therefore, a higher shop bill.

Gear Slippage

This one is pretty easy to notice, it means your transmission shifts gears when it shouldn’t. This can not only cause further damage but make your car dangerous to drive as well.

A lot goes into making sure an automatic transmission shifts smoothly, but if yours is slipping gears, all of that goes out the window. This means you’ll experience a rough jerking sensation as the RPMs climb without warning.

While you might just consider this a nuisance, if you’re driving on slick roads, it can actually cause your car to lose traction. This puts yourself, your passengers, and those around you in danger.

Clunking/Whining Sound

Earlier, we mentioned how bad it is for a transmission to be without fluid. One of the reasons for this is because tranny fluid acts as a lubricant, creating a thin layer between the metal.

Without it, metal meets metal, which can produce a “clunking” or “whining” sound when the gears lock into place.

The longer these sounds continue, the more of a beating your transmission will endure, eventually leading to its failure.

Issues Shifting Gears

If your transmission hesitates, or jerks while changing gears, it’s likely low on fluid. Transmission fluid facilitates gear shifts, and without it, yours may have issues doing so.

As with the previous symptoms, taking your car in for an inspection at the first signs of a problem will help prevent the issue from worsening. Less damage equals a smaller repair bill.

Now that you better understand the symptoms to watch out for. Let’s look at how much you can expect to spend on transmission repair costs.

How Much Does Transmission Repair/Replacement Cost?

car transmission repair

Transmission Fluid Flush

This service consists of depleting the system of all of the old transmission fluid and replacing it with new fluid. Depending on where you take your vehicle, the cost can range from $80-$250. Thankfully, it’s also something you can do at home to cut these costs in half.

Related:What Does It Cost To Change Transmission Fluid?

Shift Solenoid Replacement

A shift solenoid is basically a valve that controls how much fluid flows through the transmission. Replacing a single solenoid can range anywhere from $150-$400 (including both parts and labor). Most transmissions have 2 or more solenoids, meaning the costs can rack up fairly quickly.

Transmission Fluid Leak

Transmission leaks typically occur from a worn seal, which can cost as much as $200 to replace. However, if the leak stems from the front seal, this amount will increase by a significant amount.

Thankfully, most transmission fluids carry seal swell agents, which keep them from drying out and shrinking. You can also add specific additives meant to maintain transmission seals.

Transmission Rebuild

A transmission rebuild consists of replacing any worn/broken parts and salvaging what you can. The issue is that this takes a lot of time. Because of this, the costs are close to how much it is to simply replace the tranny. How much does a transmission rebuild cost? $2,500-$4,500.

Transmission Replacement

And then, there’s transmission replacement, which is the only thing worse than finding out your engine is shot. Why? Because when all is said and done, the costs of replacing your transmission with a new one ranges between $4,000-$8,000.

Thankfully, you can reduce these costs by replacing it with a used or rebuilt transmission, which ranges between $2,500-$4,000.

Instead Of Repairing/Replacing – Maintain The Transmission You Already Have

automotive transmission

It’s that simple. Instead of staring in wonder at a sizable repair bill, avoid it altogether, by maintaining your tranny throughout its lifetime.


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Joshua Barrett
Joshua Barrett

Josh Barrett is a writer hailing from the great state of Alaska. While describing himself in the third person is not his forte, writing about any and all things automotive – is. After 13+ years hustling in the exciting world of car sales, he took off to travel the world with his dog Teemo.


Last Updated on October 5, 2021

Imagine traveling at one speed throughout your journey. It’s not an appealing thought. The transmission is the part of your vehicle that helps you change speeds smoothly.

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When a specific gear is selected, the transmission controls how much power feeds through to the engine. It doesn’t matter if it’s an automatic or manual transmission; they do the same thing.

What Does a Transmission Do?

The transmission is there to ensure that you have enough power when you need it. The principle is similar to the gears on a bike. Lower gears mean that more power is produced. Higher gears allow you to drive at a higher speed.

There are three types of transmissions in a car—manual, automatic, and CVT. Manual models have you change the gears yourself. Automatic models use the vehicle to do the shifting for you. CVT transmissions are a type of automatic with essentially one long gear.

Top 7 Signs of a Bad Transmission

How do you know that your transmission is slipping, or that you have transmission failure? Let’s go over seven of the most common blown transmission symptoms.

#1 – Stain on Garage Floor or Driveway

cost to fix transmission fluid leak

Another way to check for leaks is to place some sturdy paper or cardboard under your car when you park it for the night. If it is stained by the morning, you’ll be able to see whether it’s oil or transmission fluid.

If possible, take the paper or cardboard to your mechanic, too. They can then confirm what the leak is if you’re not sure.

See Also:  Transmission Fluid Color Chart

#2 – Unusual Noises

steering wheel makes noise when turning

If any part of your car makes a new type of noise, you must have it checked out. The transmission going out is serious, but it might be nothing more than a whining or buzzing sound at first. Get to a mechanic and have them check out the transmission. If you catch it soon enough, it may not be as bad as it could get.

#3 – Gears Are Unresponsive

symptoms of bad transmission valve body

Your gears should change easily. It is something that you shouldn’t have to think about, much less struggle with while driving. Gears that are unresponsive could point to a transmission fluid leak, a serious issue that you must address quickly.

Related:  Symptoms of a Transmission Valve Body Issue

#4 – Burning Smell

If you smell something burning, it could be that the transmission fluid has overheated or you are low on fluid. It’s not the end of the world if you notice it soon enough, just pull over and let the car cool down and/or buy a quart of automatic transmission fluid (ATF) at a nearby gas station or auto parts store and top it off.

Often this is enough to allow you to limp home or to a repair shop. You’ll want to diagnose the issue right away before a completely blown transmission requires and expensive rebuild or replacement.

#5 – Grinding Gears

manual transmission hard to shift

A manual transmission that’s grinding is easier to notice. You’ll hear the noise and feel the gears sticking. It could be a simple matter of replacing the clutch (which isn’t actually that simple but better than the alternative).

An automatic will only emit a noticeable sound—a grating sound. If you’ve been driving a manual car for a while, you’ve probably grated the gears before, so you know the sound. What we’re talking about here is the grating noise that occurs regularly.

See Also: Straight Cut vs Helical Gear Comparison

#6 – Noisy in Neutral

rough idling

If your car’s making funny sounds when you’re in neutral, it’s time to have a look under the hood. You can often sort this issue out by adding new transmission fluid so it is full. If it continues after you’ve done so, consult your mechanic to see if more severe transmission damage has occurred.

#7 – Check Engine Light

check engine light

We know how annoying those warning lights are for servicing your car. They’re particularly troublesome if you’re having a bad month financially. If you don’t want things to go wrong, have it checked out earlier.

Proper maintenance can save you thousands of dollars in expensive future repairs.

Transmission Repair Cost (and Replacement Cost)

burnt transmission fluid symptoms

Brace yourself; transmission repair and replacement is going to be quite pricey. You can often get a rebuilt transmission for between $1,000 and $6,000. That price will depend on the make and model of your vehicle, and a manual transmission is cheaper than an automatic one.

If you’d like something with more of a guarantee, go for a factory-rebuilt model. You’ll pay more, but the warranty can be up to 100,000 miles or three years. It is easier for a mechanic to install vs rebuilding it and will take a day or two at most.

If the mechanic rebuilds it, the costs are lower, but the warranty period is shorter. It can take three or four days minimum because the damaged module must be removed, stripped, and repaired. Costs vary because you never know what problems might be lurking inside.

Your alternative is to salvage a transmission. If you’re lucky, you’ll pay $200 to $600, but the problem is that you don’t know what you’re getting. Who’s to say that the salvaged model will work for your vehicle?

Speak to the repair shop upfront—some won’t offer this service at all because of the potential risks. Steer clear of used parts, too, unless you know something about the way the other vehicle was maintained.

You’ll also need to be guided by your budget, so when working out if this repair is affordable, factor in towing fees. You could risk driving the car if it’s only a short distance away from the garage. If it’s a fair distance away, call a tow truck instead.

See Also: 6 Types of Car Title Brands

Can You Drive with a Bad Transmission?

We don’t advise it under normal conditions. If you’ve identified a leak, you could get away with it by topping up the transmission fluid regularly. It is a pain because it means checking the fluid every time you climb into the vehicle.

You’ll always need a bottle of transmission fluid with you. If you’re going to try this, be sure that you have the right type of fluid for your vehicle.

If the gears are grating, or you’re not sure what the problem is, rather park the car and have it towed. The potential for damage is high. If the metal in the transmission starts to flake off, and falls into the coolant, you can expect an extremely expensive repair.

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Slipping cost transmission

Did you know that a third of U.S. motorists can't afford to pay a car repair bill unless they take out a loan?

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE

That's right.

After all, the average car repair bill ranges anywhere from $500 to $600.

This is in line with a recent study showing how 40% of Americans don't have $400 saved up for emergency expenses. So, it's easy to see why a car repair bill will force them to borrow money.

Things could get even pricier if we're talking about transmission repair cost. We're talking hundreds, even thousands of dollars if you need a rebuilt. Even simple issues, like fluid leaks, can already cost you a couple of hundred dollars.

How much you'll spend will depend on the specific type of transmission problem you have. Don't worry though, as we've rounded up everything you need to know, so be sure to keep reading!

What Does Your Car’s Transmission Do, Anyway?

A car's transmission provides a way to change the speed ratio between the wheels and the engine. It “modulates” the high amount of power that comes from the engine. This then enables the driver to enjoy a controlled source of power, so they can speed up the car or slow it down.

Without this crucial part, cars would only have one gear, which would be the top speed that they can travel. Without it, there's no way to convert the power from the engine into torque. And without torque, nothing will rotate the wheels.

So, without a transmission, a car could only travel at one speed, which is pretty much how a fixed-gear bike works. Worse, the lack of transmission of power to the wheels won't allow it to travel at all.

That's a basic definition of car transmission systems, but you get the gist: it plays a role in your car's mobility. If one of its many (literal) gears and parts stop working, the transmission will start slipping. From there, it will continue to slip and fail, until your car will stop responding to any gear change.

Why Transmission Repair Cost Can Get Really Pricey

The valve body, pump, solenoids, clutches, torque converters, and transmission fluid are just some of the main components of a car's transmission system. All these parts work together to deliver power to your car's wheels, allowing them to turn in the first place.

Moreover, there are numerous other parts inside each of these main components.

With so many parts and functions, it's no wonder that a transmission system can cost a fortune to repair. But it's also why the transmission is one of the most valuable car parts that you can sell.

When any of your transmission’s internal parts wear out or goes bad, you should get them fixed or replaced ASAP. Otherwise, you'll start smelling foul, burning odors, which is always an unpleasant experience. Worse, you'll have a hard time changing and maintaining gears.

The longer you put off repairs or part replacements, the bigger the damage will get. In the long run, your transmission will fail, and you'll need a new transmission system.

So, how much you can expect to spend on transmission repairs? This depends on the part that's become defective, the specific type of car you drive, and your location.

To give you an idea though, we've listed some of the most common transmission problems below. Take a look at how much their repairs cost on average.

Transmission Leak Repairs

Driving a vehicle with a transmission fluid leak may not be especially dangerous. However, it could make it more difficult to change gears or maneuver your car.

Also, the longer you delay repairs, the bigger the leaks would get. Ultimately, this would cause your transmission to fail.

A solid sign that you have a transmission fluid leak is seeing a green or red fluid where you usually park your car. This can mean that you have a leaky pan gasket, a punctured fluid line, or a faulty seal. The exact cause could be difficult to pin down, so it's best to get a mechanic to check it for you.

Transmission leak repair costs could run you anywhere from $150 to $200. With this, you'll get a new pan gasket, a fluid line change, a new seal, and even drain plug replacements.

If the leak affects the transmission's front seal, however, you can expect higher costs. That's because the mechanic would need to get the transmission out of the car first. It's a complex and laborious job, so it'll warrant a higher repair cost.

Clutch Repairs and Part Replacements

While manual transmissions are no longer that common, they still accounted for 3.5% of new car sales in 2018. If your car is one of these, or it's an older make, then a problem that you're likely to face is a worn clutch.

In a manual transmission car, the clutch sends power from the engine to the transmission. When you stomp on the clutch pedal, you're telling your transmission to turn the wheels.

Over time, clutch components, like the clutch disc and pressure plate, will wear out. When this happens, the clutch could either slip, shudder, or make whining noises. You'd also have a hard time changing gears, or you may not even be able to move the car at all.

Almost all problems with clutches require part replacement. For instance, you may have to get a new pressure plate or a replacement clutch disc. Since you need new parts, the cost of transmission repair for faulty clutches can range from $1,225 to $1,416.

Solenoid Replacement

If a clutch is to manual transmissions, a solenoid is to automatic transmissions. A solenoid, in general, is a coil of wire that functions as an electromagnet. In automobiles, these are electro-hydraulic valves that control fluid flow throughout the transmission.

Your car's computer directs the solenoids as to what they should do, such as when they should open or close. Their actions, such as when to shift and the speed they should shift at, are also based on these computer signals.

Like everything else in your car, transmission solenoids will age and wear out over time. When this occurs, you'll experience delays in gear shifting and problems with downshifting. You'll also feel roughness and choppiness whenever you attempt to shift gears.

Replacing the defective solenoid is often the only choice when these issues arise. The cost will depend on which solenoid you have a problem with. For instance, replacing a shift solenoid costs an average of $271, parts and labor included.

Transmission Fluid Flush

Over time, dirt, debris, grease, and sludge will build up in your car's transmission system. When this happens, you might hear strange grinding noises whenever you shift gears. You might also have problems shifting gears or the gears may slip.

Eventually, these contaminants can cause severe damage to the transmission gears. From there, your transmission will completely fail.

Before any of these happens, have your car undergo a transmission fluid flush. For most cars, a transmission flush after every two years or 30,000 miles will do the trick.

How much you'll spend for this service depends on your car's make, model, and year. But you can expect to spend anywhere from $130 to $430.

Transmission Valve Body Replacement

The transmission valve body is like the main control panel of a transmission system. It directs transmission fluid to each valve, which then activates the appropriate clutch. This “activation” is what allows you to shift to the right gear for your driving situation.

Problems with the valve body can occur due to metal debris causing damage to fluid passages. Metal contaminants can also damage the O-rings in the valve body, leading to fluid leaks.

Incorrect lubrication, which allows metal to metal contact, is another possible culprit. This can also cause the valve body to overheat, leading to premature wear and tear.

If your car gets flooded, water could quickly seep into the valve body. This can lead to corrosion that can cause permanent damage to the transmission valve.

In any case, a bad transmission valve body can cause gear slippage, harsh shifts, or delay in shifting. You may also hear banging sounds, which can mean this part of your transmission is going bad.

Since the valve body is a core part of the transmission, a replacement is often the best choice once it goes bad. Expect your costs to run anywhere from $390 up to $860.

The Cost of Rebuilding a Transmission

If your transmission is completely dead, a replacement can cost you up to a whopping $6,000. Of course, this still depends on the kind of car you drive and your location. You'll also pay less if you have a manual transmission.

Transmission Repairs Can Be Unjustifiably Costly

There you have it, your complete guide on transmission repair cost ranges and how high they could get. As you can see, it could be very expensive, especially if you need a transmission rebuilt.

If your car is too old or if it's been in the shop a lot lately, it may not make sense to spend more on repairs. You might want to consider selling the entire thing instead.

In this case, know that we can help. Give us a call now so we can start discussing your options! You can also request a free estimate of your car's worth so you'll have an idea of how much you can get from it.

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Can Changing your Transmission Fluid Cause Damage?

Transmission Repair Cost Guide – Pros, Cons & More!

Your car’s transmission is one of the most critical and complex components to your entire vehicle. Without a working transmission, your engine might run, but the car would just sit and not move. That’s not going to do you much good, and it certainly won’t get you where you need to go!

Due to the complexity of these parts, repairing a transmission can be an extremely costly job. If your transmission is starting to give you problems, then you need to quickly determine your next steps. How bad is the damage? Should you repair or replace it? Is this a job that you can perform yourself? Or, should you just sell your car and get a new one that doesn’t have problems? We’ll help you answer all those questions plus a few more – just keep reading!

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What Does It Cost to Repair/Replace or Rebuild Your Transmission?

There are many factors that go into answering this question, and we’ll try to cover them all here so that you can make the most informed decision about what to do with your car. First, let’s take a look at the average cost for some very basic repairs. If your vehicle’s transmission has just started having some minor issues like slight transmission slipping, then it’s possible that the fix might be as simple as a fluid change.

Let’s start out with the basics for automatic transmissions – we’ll take a look at manual transmission costs later in this section. When it comes to an automatic transmission fluid change, you have a couple of options:

There are pros and cons to each, and people often argue over a fluid change versus a fluid flush. The traditional fluid change is usually the cheapest option, and it can often fix minor transmission problems. Like other automotive fluids, transmission fluid breaks down over time and no longer provides the cooling and lubricating properties that it once did. Just like your engine oil, this fluid must be changed on a regular interval to keep your transmission in proper working order.

Most mechanics recommend changing your transmission fluid every 40,000 – 50,000 miles. Of course, this can vary based on your specific driving habits and the make and model of your vehicle. You should always consult your owner’s manual for your manufacturer’s recommendation.

Now, let’s discuss the first option – the traditional fluid change. This works much like an oil change in that the transmission fluid is drained from the transmission and replaced with new fluid. Some transmissions even have drain plugs that allow for easy draining of the old fluid.

For cars without a drain plug, the transmission pan must be removed for draining of the fluid. This can be quite a messy procedure, so make sure that you know what you’re doing before attempting this on your own! If you’re willing to get a little messy, you can change the fluid in your car yourself for around $50-$60. This is just the cost of the new fluid plus a new filter and pan gasket.

If you take your vehicle to a shop to have the work performed, you can expect to pay around $100 – $125 for the job. You’ll obviously still need to pay for the same materials, but you can expect about an hour of labor to be added as well.

Another option for changing the fluid is the fluid flush. In the traditional drain and fill method, all the old fluid does not get removed from the transmission. As much as 30% of the old fluid still remains in the torque converter and other components of the transmission. The flushing method solves this problem. This method allows the old fluid to cycle out of the transmission as fresh fluid is pumped in. Some people believe that this method is not good for older transmissions because it can dislodge tiny particles and push them into places they should not be inside the transmission.

If you opt for the transmission flush, then you can expect to pay around $150 – $250. While you can perform this yourself, it can be a little complicated and messy, so the low cost of a fluid flush usually prompts most people to have it performed at a mechanic. Also, you can destroy your transmission if you allow it to run without fluid, so this can be a dangerous procedure for beginners.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s talk about your options if you have bigger problems that fresh fluid won’t solve. Perhaps you’re having severe slipping or bad shifting problems. Unfortunately, these larger repairs are going to require you to get out your wallet. Some of them will likely be in the thousands of dollars.

If you’re lucky, the mechanic might tell you that your shift solenoid is bad and needs replacing. This is much better news than a complete rebuild or replacement. Replacing the solenoid is still a complex job, but it will only set you back around $200 – $400 in most cases. This might sound like a lot, but it’s relatively low compared to a transmission rebuild or replacement.

Let’s continue our discussion as we go from bad to worse…the mechanic might tell you that your transmission needs rebuilding. In this case, you’re probably going to spend anywhere from $600 – $1800 for the repair. Automatic transmissions are very complex, and they require time and expertise to get right. They have numerous internal parts that must be precisely repaired to function properly.

Modern automatic transmissions have as many as 9 gears or more, which only adds to the complexity of today’s cars. Internal clutches and bands must be checked and repaired, and everything must be put back together perfectly to avoid future problems. This causes the labor costs associated with a rebuild to be quite high.

Thankfully, a rebuilt transmission is usually almost as good as new. Most repair shops even provide a warranty on their work, so they guarantee that the transmission will last for a certain period of time or number of miles. We understand that most people cannot pay thousands of dollars for a repair like this, so you should consider selling your car to Auto Wranglers instead to put some cash in your pocket and just buy yourself a new car.

You might be wondering how to rebuild a transmission because you want to do the job yourself. You should know that is not something you should attempt unless you are a highly experienced mechanic. You will likely end up getting stuck part of the way through and paying even more for a mechanic to fix what you messed up!

Finally, we’re getting to the worst and most expensive of them all. Entire transmission replacement. This may be necessary if your old transmission is ruined so bad that it cannot be rebuilt. If there is major damage to the internal parts, then it’s often not possible to rebuild it.

A new transmission ranges anywhere from $2,000 – $4,500 for most cars today plus labor costs associated with the work for removing the old one and replacing it! High end cars like a BMW or Mercedes can cost you over $8,000 to have the transmission replaced.

As you can see, transmission replacement costs at an auto repair shop are expensive due to the cost of new transmissions plus the labor! Average prices run several thousand dollars, so some people opt to install a remanufactured transmission instead of a new one. This can save you a little money on the transmission itself because remanned transmission prices are a little lower than new, but the cost of labor will be about the same. Purchasing a remanufactured transmission can save you anywhere from $500 – $1500 over a new one, and most of them also include a warranty.

While it is possible to install a used transmission instead of a new one, finding the correct one is usually the problem. Many transmission repair shops will buy used transmissions from old cars that are still in good shape because they can resell them to people who need their transmission replaced. Transmissions in good condition are quite valuable, so that’s why it can be tough to find them sometimes.

If you’ve experienced a transmission failure, then deciding the best route forward can be difficult. Pricing on the different repair options is obviously a big factor, but there are other considerations as well. If you only need minor repairs and your car is in otherwise good shape, then it’s probably worth spending a few hundred dollars to keep your car going.

However, if your car is constantly in the shop or is already on its last leg, then it doesn’t make sense to sink thousands of dollars for transmission rebuild costs into it at the dealership. You would be better off selling your car for cash to Auto Wranglers. We will buy it regardless of its condition and put cash in your pocket. This will let you buy yourself a new car instead of worrying about how you’re going to repair that old one.

So far, we’ve only discussed automatic transmission, but what if you have a manual tranny? Lucky for you, they’re not quite as complicated! Which also means that they are not quite as expensive to repair. Manual transmissions tend to have catastrophic failures less often, and the repair is not usually as difficult.

A manual transmission can often be repaired by simply replacing the clutch. This job can usually be done by your local mechanic for around $150 – $300. Even if you have to do a total replacement of your transmission, you still will be thankful for the lower price of the manual. You are likely to pay somewhere between $1,500 – $3,000 for the replacement, which is still less than replacement of its automatic counterpart.

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Symptoms of a Failing Transmission

If you suspect your transmission may be on its last leg, there are things you can look for that will give it away! Some of the most common symptoms include:

If it feels like your car is going in and out of gear as you drive, this is your transmission slipping. This can happen when the bands inside your tranny are no longer tight. When the bands become loose, they no longer grip the clutches and gears constantly as they should. This causes them to lose their grip and the gears stop spinning until the band re-grips again. Slipping is a sure sign of problems, and you should have it checked right away.

It is important to always keep a close eye on all your vehicle’s fluid levels, but especially your engine oil and transmission fluid levels. If you notice the fluid getting low, then there are only a couple of possible causes. The first is a leak, which is a definite problem. The other is your fluid actually burning and evaporating.

Both of these are big problems because your transmission relies on the fluid to help remove help and keep the internal parts lubricated. Heat is one of the biggest enemies of a properly running transmission, so a low fluid level can destroy a transmission quickly. You should immediately refill the fluid to the proper level and have a mechanic examine your transmission to determine the cause of the low level.

When you check your fluid level, you should also look at the color and consistency of the fluid. Your fluid should be a bright pink/reddish color and a liquid consistency like oil. If you notice your fluid is dark and/or thick and sludgy, you should have it changed right away. Old fluid no longer removes heat and lubricates internal parts, so it is not doing its job in protecting your transmission. New fluid will make a big difference in the performance of your transmission and help extend its life.

This likely points to some internal problems or damage. If you notice that you’re driving along and your car does not shift properly, then your transmission has some issues. Perhaps it skips gears or takes too long to shift out of a gear. It might be that it momentarily hangs in between gear shifts and the RPMs on your car go way up between shifts. None of those things are normal, and you should have them checked. It could be as simple as the shift solenoid, or it might be bigger problems that require a more involved fix.

  • Won’t Go Into Reverse

If your car won’t go into reverse (or drive for that matter), then this is an obvious sign of a failing transmission. Your car should gently, but firmly, shift into any gear in the range of your vehicle. Not going into gear usually signals a pretty big problem, although not always.

A burning smell coming from your transmission is never good. This usually means that your transmission is getting too hot, and internal damage has likely occurred. It could be due to old or low fluid or internal parts could be producing more friction than they should due to another problem. If you notice this smell, then check your fluid right away to determine whether it’s low or old. If so, then start with a fluid change at a minimum. If you notice any other symptoms, then you might have to do additional repairs.

A bad transmission is usually something that is pretty obvious as you’re driving your car. If you notice any of the symptoms above, then you should have things checked out to avoid doing any further damage. If it’s already too late, then you’re probably better off selling your car altogether. We buy cars throughout the country, and we would love to buy yours too. We’ll make you an instant cash offer and provide free towing even if your transmission is completely shot!



We all know that your transmission is a vitally important part of your car. Depending on the severity of your transmission problem, you may have to spend a few hundred to several thousand dollars for the repair. In some cases, you might even have to completely replace the transmission to get things right again! New transmission costs are extremely high, so the cost to replace transmissions is one of the most expensive repairs you might encounter as a car owner.

Even on an old Toyota or Honda, you’re looking at thousands of dollars for a replacement. Don’t even mention high-end vehicles! You could easily pay over $8,000 for that repair on a high-end car. If you discover that your issue is not a simple fix, then don’t stress yourself over a huge repair bill! Come to Auto Wranglers and let us buy your car for cash! We’ll provide free towing and put some money in your pocket so that you can purchase a new ride.

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Now discussing:

Dealing with a slipping transmission can be a significant problem with any car; especially those with automatic transmissions. This is one of the many issues with your auto that can begin as a minor issue and then quickly worsen, becoming more expensive. You should never delay repairing a slipping transmission.

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE


There are multiple potential slipping transmission causes, and although maintenance is always required, the severity of the problem can vary greatly. Remember that the transmission slipping indicates that you need a mechanic’s assistance, regardless of the severity.


Signs of a Slipping Transmission: What Does a Slipping Transmission Feel Like?

Signs of a Slipping Transmission

If you are unsure how to tell if your transmission is slipping, be on the lookout for some of the more common transmission slipping symptoms. The following are among the most common slipping transmission signs:


  • Your check engine light is on
  • An rpm of over 3,500
  • Acceleration delays
  • Burning or unusual smells
  • Inability to reverse
  • Problems shifting gears
  • Harsh responses or strange noises when shifting gears
  • The reverse does not engage


If you’re wondering what it means when your transmission is slipping or what transmission slipping is, these transmission slipping signs should give you a good idea. There is no clear definition of exactly one thing that signifies a slipping transmission, as the problem is mostly defined by its symptoms and causes. As such, your best course of action is to watch for the above signs and, if you encounter them, begin to look at your repair options.


Any of the above signs your transmission is slipping may point to a range of problems, not limited to the transmission slipping. However, they do all require maintenance, so if you notice any of those symptoms, you will want to visit your mechanic.


You should also be on the lookout for other potential signs of transmission problems, which may or may not include slipping. Your mechanic can help you with how to tell if transmission is slipping or you have another problem.


Leaking Transmission Fluid

If you notice red fluid underneath your auto, then there is likely a transmission leak from a seal, gasket, or cooler line. This is damaging for the transmission and dangerous if the fluid happens to leak onto a hot surface. You can check the transmission fluid with the dipstick. Keep in mind that some of the other fluids in the transmission must be checked by a professional.


Burning Smell

The potential burning smell is usually the result of low fluid or a fluid leak. Catching this problem early is crucial to being able to fix the transmission.


It Won’t Stay in Gear or Engage

This type of problem may indicate issues with your automatic transmission valve, the shifter cable, the shifter, or a fluid leak. You may even need to have your mechanic check your auto’s computer system to see if there are trouble codes, since the computer lets the transmission known when it should go in gear on newer autos.


No Power for the Car

When your engine runs properly but your auto has minimal or no power, it may be from the computer limiting power, internal transmission problems, or the brakes dragging from a faulty brake hose or caliper.


Shifts Miss Gears or Delay

These problems can be due to low transmission fluid, which could be from water intrusion, lack of maintenance, contamination, or a leak. If you do not take care of this problem, it can lead to overheating that causes serious internal damage. Missing gears or delayed shifting can also be due to engine problems that make the computer prevent the transmission from shifting to a higher gear.


Odd Noises

If you hear a humming, clunking, or buzzing sound from the transmission, this usually indicates an internal problem, such as bad bearing or planetary gear damage. Buzzing might also be due to a leak causing low transmission fluid, a seal, or poor internal sealing surfaces.


Remember that anytime you are unsure of how to determine whether your transmission is slipping, you should consult your mechanic to get an evaluation as well as a fix transmission slipping cost estimate.


Slipping Transmission Causes – Why Is My Transmission Slipping?

As mentioned, there is a long list of potential reasons that your transmission is slipping. Some are more common than others, and most of these are more likely to occur in automatic transmissions.


Low Fluid

Of the various slipping transmission causes, the most common is having low fluid levels. This comes from the vast ways in which low fluid levels can negatively impact your car, from not producing enough hydraulic pressure for engaging gears to overheating.


To check whether low fluid levels are causing your problem, you can just look at the dipstick in your engine compartment. Remember that the system for the transmission is closed. As such, it should never have low levels. If there are low levels, you may be dealing with a leak.


Burnt Fluid

Sometimes, the transmission slipping is due to the fluid burning instead of being low. If the fluid is black or you notice a smell similar to burnt toast, then this is the likely culprit. Burnt fluid can happen when the transmission overheats. In this case, you will need to quickly swap out your transmission fluid. After that, you will need to have a technician inspect your transmission to ensure there is no further damage.


Clutch Problems

Both automatic and manual transmissions use clutches, and while manual transmission slipping is most likely due to clutch issues, it is also a possible cause for an automatic transmission slipping. In an automatic, the transmission and torque converter have clutch plates that can burn or become worn out due to insufficient transmission fluid.


In manuals, the clutch relies on brake pads and other friction material to grab the engine flywall, helping separate the transmission and engine as you change gears. If this material gets worn, the clutch will not fully engage or switch gears, requiring a replacement.

Worn Gears

As your car ages, your gears will begin to wear out. This is completely natural and occurs due to wear and tear. Gears can also wear out from malfunctions. If the gears are frayed or worn, they will not link together properly, leading to bumpy shifting.

Solenoid Issues

Your auto’s solenoid is an electro-hydraulic valve that is responsible for controlling fluid flow in the transmission. If this component has electronic issues or suffers damage, it will not dispense the appropriate amount of fluids, leading to issues like transmission slipping. You can use an OBD2 scanner for trouble codes to help you figure out which solenoid to replace.


Problems with the Torque Converter

The torque converter converts the engine’s power so it is torque, which is the form of power that the transmission can use. Over time, the torque converter can wear down. When functioning properly, fluid will flow through your torque converter. If the fluid does not flow properly, the transmission can misbehave in a variety of ways, including slipping.

Damage to Transmission Bands

It is also very possible for your transmission bands to become broken or worn over time, leading to the transmission slipping. The bands are responsible for connecting your automatic transmission’s gears together. You can overcome this cause by replacing or adjusting the defective band(s).


In Manuals: Grinding Gears When Shifting

If the manual transmission grinds as you shift gears, this usually indicates the clutch is not releasing, the transmission’s shift synchronizer rings are broken or worn, there is an adjustment problem, transmission fluid is low, or the shifter is worn.


In Manuals: Clutch Pedal Grabbing High or Low

Your clutch pedal engaging extremely high or low in your manual can also be transmission-related. Grabbing high may be due to worn pressure plates, worn clutch discs, or adjustments. Grabbing low is usually due to the hydraulic or linkage system experiencing problems.


Can You Drive with a Transmission Slipping?

Can You Drive with a Transmission Slipping?

It is not smart or safe to drive with a slipping transmission. Similarly, you should not drive the car at any point that the transmission does not work properly; this could lead to the auto unexpectedly changing gears as you drive. You would also likely notice acceleration problems.


Transmission Slipping Fix – How to Fix a Slipping Transmission

In the case of transmission slipping due to minor problems, such as low fluid levels, ineffective or burnt fluid, or a leak in the transmission, you may be able to fix the problem yourself. Most people should be able to check the fluid themselves and many will feel comfortable changing it as well. You would likely want help from a mechanic to fix a transmission leak.


The fix becomes significantly more complicated with the other causes. If you need to adjust or replace your clutch, adjust or replace the bands, or replace the gears, you are in for a bigger repair. In this case, you will likely need to dismantle the transmission to resolve the issue. It should come as no surprise that this is not something that a novice should take on. As such, you should expect to pay a mechanic to inspect and repair the transmission.


The key here is that the solution will depend on the cause of your slipping transmission.


From Low Fluid Levels

If the problem was due to low fluid levels, check the fluid levels and top them off if necessary. Ideally, you should check the levels at least monthly. This is a very quick-fix slipping transmission solution.


From Worn out or Burnt Fluid

In this case, you need to drain and change the fluid. This is a bit messy and requires some mechanical knowledge, although many home mechanics can do it themselves.


From Fluid Leaks

This type of problem requires finding the source of the leak and fixing it.



Transmission Slipping Prevention – How to Stop Transmission from Slipping

The best way to prevent your transmission from slipping is to stay on top of regular maintenance. At the very least, follow the transmission maintenance outlined in your owner’s manual. Ideally, you should regularly check your transmission fluid. You may also want to make sure that you flush it and install a new filter every 30,000 miles, although the recommended interval for this maintenance depends on your auto.


Are Repairs the Only Option? Consider Selling Your Car

Depending on the severity of your transmission slipping problems and their causes, you may find that it is impractical to make the necessary repairs. Sometimes, they will be very expensive, especially if the transmission needs to be disassembled and assessed. In this case, you may have to deal with a situation where:


  • You cannot afford the repairs
  • Your vehicle is worth less than the cost of repairs
  • You do not want to pay that much for repairs on an aging car
  • You do not want to pay that much for repairs on a car you were planning to replace


No matter the reasons that you do not want to proceed with repairs on your car, there are still other options available. The best choice in this scenario will likely be to sell your car.


You could try to find a private buyer who wants to buy your car with its transmission slipping, but they would likely want a discount for the price of the expected repairs. This would go against the point of selling the car instead of making the repairs in the first place.


You could also try junking the car and bringing it to a scrapyard. However, these junk yards are notorious for giving poor prices and only valuing the car based on the weight of the metal, regardless of how many functional and reusable components it has. You would also have to get the car to the scrap yard.


We Will Buy Your Car – Even with a Transmission Slipping

What is Stalling a Car? – It’s a Good Time to Sell it to CashCarsbuyers

The easiest option will likely be to sell us your car. We buy cars in any condition, even with slipping transmissions. We always offer a fair price for your car and are up front with the quotes. Once you agree to our offer, we will come pick up your vehicle quickly; this way, you do not have to keep storing a useless car in your driveway. Our efficiency also ensures you get the money for your car quickly, giving you the chance to figure out your next mode of transport.


Contact our team or fill out the form for an online quote. We will offer a fair price for your car based on its make, model, year, and condition. Once you accept our offer, we arrange to pick up your auto and give you cash in exchange for it, without hidden fees.

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