The Two Types Of Transmission Problems

Transmission problems fall into two very similar categories:

  • Won’t go.
  • Won’t go smoothly

These two groups of problems are caused by the same faults in your transmission, so whichever your car is doing, the following applies.

Is your fluid level correct?
It’s important to check your transmission fluid at least twice a year. Not only can a low fluid level cause your car to shift poorly, it can eventually lead to transmission damage, and a costly repair. If your car seems to be losing fluid on a regular basis, you may have a leak.

Is your transmission leaking?
Checking for leaks isn’t as trying as it may seem. The transmission is a closed system, so there are only a few places that can spring a leak. Unless it’s been changed to a non-dyed fluid, your car will have red transmission fluid. Here are a few places to check for leaks:

  • At the filler tube base.
  • At the drain hole underneath the transmission.
  • Between the transmission and the engine.
  • At the selector shaft – the rod that connects your gear shift to the transmission.
  • Speed sensor mounting point. This will either be your cable screwing into the transmission housing or an electronic sensor bolted to the housing.
  • The radiator. If your car has a transmission cooler, it’s possible that a leak will cause transmission fluid to leak into the radiator fluid. They don’t mix well, so you’ll see it floating around in there.

Is your filter clogged?
Your transmission’s filter is vital to its performance. If you haven’t replaced your filter in a while (or ever for a lot of us), be sure to do this before you start talking about rebuilds or replacements.


Most transmission problems can’t be fixed by the average do-it-yourselfer. There are just too many specialized tools and pieces of equipment you’ll need, and buying this expensive gear just to screw up your first three tries at fixing the thing just doesn’t make too much sense.

Now that you’re in front of the firing squad, it’s time to drop some knowledge on your fix-it guy. Tell him what the car’s doing. Then tell him what you found out when you inspected the transmission. If there’s a leak, let him know where and how much is leaking.

9 replies
  1. John
    John says:

    My wife’s car has been having trouble lately shifting smoothly. The article says that this is a common sign your need a transmission repair. Is having your transmission fluid flushed the same thing as a repair? Or would you suggest having the fluid flushed anyways? Any info would be appreciated since I don’t know much about transmissions anyways.

    • satucker
      satucker says:

      Thank you for the questions! Transmission repair is typically something that’s a simple fix, or a serious fix. A flush is a maintenance item, which is changing the fluid in the transmission. We have a free diagnostic service that will help us identify if we have something simple, something serious, or a fluid change to correct the condition. What day and which location works for you?

  2. Tomas Killington
    Tomas Killington says:

    My wife’s car has been having some issues. I was driving it yesterday when it wouldn’t shift for a really long time, and then it would change gears very abruptly. I didn’t realize that you should check the transmission fluid at least twice a year to ensure no transmission damage is occurring. That’s something I’ll definitely remember for the future.

  3. Mike Hammer
    Mike Hammer says:

    So, my moms car has been recently have transmission problems, But I think that its not the transmission because it goes into every gear except it will jump up the rpms then shift. Her trans fluid is brown-ish so is that he problem?

    • satucker
      satucker says:

      Great question! If I can make a suggestion, let’s begin with some diagnostics. It’s no charge, and we can determine if something simple will correct the issue, or if it may be something more serious to remedy. What’s your schedule?

      Sean Avner

  4. Derek Dewitt
    Derek Dewitt says:

    My wife and I noticed the transmission on our car has started to go out so we’ve been looking for tips on how to fix it. I had no idea that it was recommended to check your transmission at least twice a year. We’ll have to check for any red fluid leaking out and take it in for repairs if we find any damage. Thanks for sharing!

    • satucker
      satucker says:

      You’re welcome! If we can be of any additional help in diagnosing/repairing, please contact our stores. We are glad to help!!
      -Sean Avner

  5. Regina Seki
    Regina Seki says:

    My car is not moving. The gear is physically shifting but the car is not moving. My cluthch has been changed, transmission fluid has been checked and added. Please share with me whats wrong with my car – mitsubishi pajero automatic transmission.


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