Knowing the signs of a faulty gearbox means you can get repairs done before the damage becomes serious – potentially saving you money. It’s important to address gearbox issues early – or you’ll simply be storing up more serious problems for later.

Why is gearbox failure so significant?

Your gearbox – or transmission – is critical to the effective, safe functioning of your vehicle. Unlike a broken taillight, for example, a faulty gearbox could mean your car is put out of action, and may result in you being stranded by the roadside.

What are the signs of gearbox failure?

There are key gearbox failure symptoms to keep an eye out for – Here’s some signs of how to tell a gearbox is damaged.

Fluid leakage

Automatic transmission fluid (ATF) is present in automatic gearboxes to help reduce friction and therefore overheating. If this fluid begins to leak, you could have a serious problem on your hands. Indeed, loss of ATF is a very common cause for automatic transmission failure.

An ATF leak may result in bright red fluid pooling under your vehicle. However, if the fluid has been burnt in the gearbox due to friction, it could be brown or black – in which case a major repair to your gearbox is likely required. 

Check Engine Light

While the Check Engine Light can suggest a variety of issues, it may also mean you have a gearbox fault. Don’t be tempted to ignore this warning; your car has many sensors designed to accurately detect problems – hopefully before they become serious.

Poor response

If you’re having trouble shifting gears, your vehicle may have a faulty gearbox. Any sign of hesitation – or complete refusal – to change gears may indicate your gearbox may have a fault. These symptoms may be be a sign of electric, hydraulic or mechanical issues.

Unusual sounds

You may have a problem with your gearbox if it starts making a sound you’ve never heard before, or if you hear clunking, whining, humming or buzzing. Your gearbox comprises hundreds of moving parts. If just one ball bearing is faulty, for example, such unexpected noises may result. 

Shaking, jerking or grinding

With a vehicle with a gearbox bearing failure symptoms, you may experience shaking, jerking or grinding while behind the wheel. Automatic gearbox issues often involve hesitation, slipping, or trembling during gear changes. Engine and transmission mounts are often the source of jerking and clunking. 

Burning smell

If you notice a rubber-like burnt smell accompanied with fluid leakage, you could have a transmission issue. You may also see smoke. Burnt fluid means that your transmission is not getting the lubrication it needs. These signs may suggest your transmission is nearing the end of its life. If there’s no leakage, such a smell may be caused by sludge or debris being burnt.

If you are seeing any of these signs, you need to call us at Callahan Automotive ASAP to have your car brought into the shop for repair. Our technicians are trained to help repair the problem and get you back on the road safely and quickly!