Common Car Gearbox Problems And Why They Occur
Your car has a very intriguing process of delivering power from the engine to wheels. Of all the mechanical components participating in that process, the most important one is arguably the car gearbox. While your car can transmit power successfully without the presence of the gearbox, its utility with the rapidly developing automobile technology over the years has made it an indispensable component of the powertrain. The car gearbox accomplishes its duty of transmitting the right amount of power through continuous rotation, grinding and a never-ending battle with friction. With so much at hand, it is inevitable that the gearbox incurs wear and tear and develops some form of malfunction occasionally. So, in this article, we will address some of the common car gearbox problems and understand why they are caused.
Common Car Gearbox Problems: Lack of Acceleration/Insufficient Throttle Response
The first car gearbox problem we will be addressing on this list concerns the acceleration of the car. At times while driving you will notice a slight delay in the acceleration of the car after shifting gears. But a delay not longer than a second is acceptable in the case of manual transmissions occasionally. This delay could be longer and more frequent in the case of automatic transmissions. However, if the case occurs where the RPM increases after shifting but the car’s speed barely increases, you are looking at an attention-worthy issue.
This problem occurs due to a faulty clutch component which isn’t letting it fully engage or disengage on time. Because of this, the clutch of the car stays active even after the shift is complete and stops/minimizes the transmission of power to the wheels. The primary components causing this problem are either worn out plates, clutch springs or the master cylinder. It could also be caused due to the presence of air in the fluid channel. In case there is air in the system, it can be fixed with simple bleeding of the concerned channel. In the other situations, the affected part will have to be replaced. Sometimes more than one of those parts can be the reason which might require the entire clutch housing to be changed
Common Car Gearbox Problems: Burning Smell
If you’re driving your car and sense any burning smell emanating from it, you’re looking at trouble. In case this smell is accompanied by lazy or improper gear shifts, then there is an almost certain probability that the smell is originating from your car gearbox.
Such a situation most commonly occurs when the transmission fluid overheats. Transmission fluid is used to cool down the heat generated by the rotation and friction of the gearbox components. If the fluid level is too low, the gearbox runs with more friction which in turn generates more heat. This heat loosens the transmission fluid, rendering it useless and causes even more heat build-up. Another major cause is the usage of an inappropriate fluid. Transmission fluids are created to function in heat levels corresponding to the gearbox operation. In case a wrong fluid is used, it won’t perform correctly and result in excessive heat build-up. Both these cases cause severe damage to the car gearbox so be sure to use the correct type of fluid and top it up on time in case the level is low.
Common Car Gearbox Problems: Car Shaking with Grinding Noise During Gear Shifts
In the ideal situation, your car is always supposed to devoid of any grinding or shaking during operation. If any such sensation is present then there is an issue with some component. In case you observe this grinding noise or sensation during gear shifts accompanied with the car visibly shaking, then you are looking at one of the very common car gearbox problems.
If you are able to observe this grinding sensation after fully pressing the clutch pedal, then there is an 80% possibility that it is due to worn out clutch plates. If it is happening after you have taken your foot off the clutch pedal, the issue is more likely with the gear synchronizers. In both cases, the parts will have to be replaced promptly as the more the grinding, more the damage getting transferred to your gearbox.
Common Car Gearbox Problems: Gears Slipping
Unless your car is an automatic, the gearbox is always supposed to work solely on your actions and your actions only. At times, you will be faced with the situation where you shift a gear, step on the accelerator pedal and the car jerks and falls back into the previous gear. In certain cases, it is also possible that the gear goes into neutral. This phenomenon is known as gear slipping.
Gear slipping harms the gearbox components but above that, it can also put you in a dangerous situation. Imagine the case where you are attempting an overtaking manoeuvre and the gear slips into neutral or a lower gear. God only knows how that situation will end up. Gear slipping occurs due to a variety of factors but most commonly due to a damaged shift fork. A damaged fork doesn’t move properly to lock on to the correct gear which causes the transmission to automatically shift back. Apart from that, it can be caused due to worn out gear teeth or low transmission fluid as well.
Common Car Gearbox Problems: Car Doesn’t Slot Into Gear
Like we said previously, the car gearbox is supposed to work solely on your actions. It is possible that sometimes the gearshift lever will simply refuse to budge from the position it is in. In the case of automatic transmissions, this issue will present itself as the gearbox getting stuck in one gear no matter how much throttle you apply.
Non-shifting of the gears can be attributed to several reasons. The primary reason is a dysfunctional clutch linkage. The clutch is used to take the load off the primary shaft leading to the gears such that the shift fork can slot into gear with ease. If the linkage is damaged or the clutch is extravagantly worn out, the load won’t shift and the gear will not slot properly. In automatic transmissions, it is caused mostly due to car’s electronic systems. If some error occurs with the electronic system responsible for the gear shift timing, the gear shifts won’t take place correctly. Needless to say, this will require a visit to the service centre for repair.
How Long Should a Transmission Last?
With so many moving parts inside, it’s always possible that something can go wrong. Often, it’s preventable with routine maintenance – a transmission fluid service according to your owner’s manual. Properly maintained, a transmission often outlasts the rest of your car. It’s common for transmissions to last beyond 200,000km, and some reports have transmissions lasting beyond 500,000km!
Can My Transmission Be Repaired?
In a vast number of cases, a blown transmission can be repaired. Gears, clutches, seals, and any other parts are replaceable internally. However, if the transmission case is cracked or gouged inside, a repair usually isn’t possible. A complete replacement transmission will be required.
Does your vehicle have low transmission fluid?
Transmission problems are more common than you might expect. Delays in fixing any early warning signs might be because the vehicle owner does not have any idea that there is already something wrong with his/her car or has no knowledge about transmission problems in general. As a vehicle owner, you should know the symptoms of low transmission fluid before something small turns into something bigger. Transmission problems, if left unattended, can get worse and damage crucial components of the vehicle.
- TROUBLE SHIFTING GEARS
One of the common symptoms of car problems is the abrupt hard shifting of gears. Although this symptom is very common to manual transmissions, it is not just limited to them. Even automatic cars have gears, so, if your car experiences a slight disparity when accelerating, then it is already a sign of transmission problems and low transmission fluid could be the culprit. If you experience a delay or missing response when you shift gears, this is even worse, as it can indicate a failed transmission.
- TRANSMISSION SLIPPING
Another common issue is transmission slipping. This can be determined if there is a lack of synchronization between the engine and the vehicle. This happens when the engine speeds up and the vehicle fails to respond to it. Transmission slipping is just one of many common low transmission fluid symptoms that should not be ignored. Not enough fluid means the gears cannot properly engage.
- UNUSUAL NOISE
In general, the transmission of the vehicle should be noiseless. However, in the example of a loose transmission torque converter, this can result in noise that can resemble rhythmic pounding. If you start to hear unusual sounds from your vehicle’s transmission, then it is best to have it checked. Hearing grinding clatter or experiencing hard or erratic shifts when changing gears could be the result of a low ATF.
- TRANSMISSION OVERHEATING
Too much heat is a sign that your car transmission is about to fail and can likely be attributed to low or ineffective transmission fluid. Overheating is very dangerous to your car; most transmissions fail because of too much overheating. The fluid temperature should not surpass 200 degrees for the most part.
- TRANSMISSION FLUID LEAKS
One of the most obvious signs of low fluids is leaking transmission fluid. The fluid in an automatic transmission is absolutely vital in ensuring that your vehicle’s shifting capabilities are functioning properly and will continue to do so. That’s why it’s always important to check for leaks under your car and in the engine compartment. This fluid is easily recognizable because it is a clear bright red with a sweet smell. If it smells burnt or is a dark color, you have a problem on your hand and can be the result of too little ATF working overtime to compensate.