Transmission issues can be costly, and they often occur when a vehicle is older and a power train warranty is no longer in effect. Luckily, there are options that don't require the purchase of a new transmission. However, the longer a problem remains unaddressed, the more damage may occur and repair expenses mount.

What are the signs of transmission problems?

The most obvious sign is when a vehicle refuses to go into gear at all, either forward or reverse (or both). Of course, there are usually many less extreme symptoms of transmission issues of which you should be aware. These include:

  • Damaged clutch: This often occurs when drivers who are not experienced with a manual transmission "ride" the clutch. This involves leaving the left foot hovering over the clutch pedal, unaware that the foot may be slightly depressing the clutch. This wears down the teeth of the clutch and inhibits its effectiveness, eventually to the point that it must be replaced. Signs of a damaged clutch include a loose clutch pedal and progressive difficulty in changing gears.
  • Slipping gears: ​When this occurs, the transmission will hesitate before changing gears, resulting in a  hesitation followed by a sudden jolt as the transmission kicked into gear. Failure to get the transmission repaired will result in further damage and will eventually result in transmission failure.
  • Dirty or low levels of transmission fluid: Check transmission fluid while the vehicle has been running for awhile. Keep it running and check the level on the dipstick. The fluid should be pinkish, not brown or dark, and at the full level on the dipstick. Your vehicle does not normally lose transmission fluid, so if the level is low, you should take it to a transmission shop to have it inspected for leaks.

Transmission repair options

Transmission shop services from the least to most expensive include:

  • Transmission tuneups: These are often offered as service specials and may include fishing out and replacing dis colored transmission fluid, adjusting and tightening bands, and inspecting the transmission for needed repairs.
  • Rebuilding transmissions: This involves repairing your existing transmission by replacing defective parts while retaining as much of the original transmission as possible.
  • Replacing the transmission with a rebuilt transmission: This is an option when your transmission is too damaged to be rebuilt, but you don't want to buy a new transmission. Rebuilt transmissions will have a limited warranty, which are not as long as that of a new transmission.
  • Installing a new transmission: This is the most expensive option, but has a warranty period equal to that of a newly purchased vehicle. This option is usually chosen only if the owner intends to keep the vehicle for a period of time long enough to justify the expense.

For more information, contact a professional like Dominion Automatic Transmission.