Used car mini-guide: How to inspect car transmission


Posted by: Hassana Obi

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Set your eyes on a shiny old car? Don't get too excited yet, know how to examine the car transmission first.

Before you go to the bank and ready to withdraw stacks of cash to purchase the car of your dream, make sure that you've read this article thoroughly. Every car buyers, especially buyers of used ones want to know if the to-be-their car is in its mint condition before they put the money down. In this article, we'll focus on one of the most important factors in any wheeled vehicle, the transmission system.

1. Check the history of the vehicle

If you want to check the history of a vehicle, there is no better place to visit than websites that allow checking vehicle history such as Carfax. You can find all the possible details about the condition as well as the history of the car. Information such as the number of maintenance it has been through, parts that have been replaced, or accidents it has been involved in.

2. How to inspect different types of transmission

2.1 Automatic vehicle

You need to do a lot of work with this one, generally, there are 3 following problems you need to notice:

  • Gear lagging

When you switch on the key and start the car, you have to wait for 2 to 3 seconds for the car to start rolling. Some people mistook this issue with the issue of the turbocharger-equipped car (because the turbocharger only works when the engine has started for a few seconds). See more about how a turbocharger works in our previous article.

  • Harsh Shifting

Next, a harsh shift. To test for this, you also need to simply switch gears—you don’t even have to be moving. If the transmission makes a clunking/grinding sound when you switch or the car lurches, then there’s something wrong.


>>> Check out tips to maintain your car's transmission:

the gearbox in an auto transmission car

You exchange the minimal effort to shift with the issues to worry about

  • Rocky shifting

Next to lagging, you also have to look for this issue. When you accelerate and the system automatically switches gear for you, you feel a little bit rocky. When it happens, the transmission system might have a problem.

  • Gear slipping

This is used to describe the phenomenon when you floor the pedal, and the meter shows maximum RPM but it still goes at its regular speed without accelerating at all. This is called gear slipping.

2.2 Manual vehicle

There are specific parts that you need to focus on when checking a manual such as the clutch. If you're going to buy a discontinued model, the clutch might be in its last days. The symptoms of a car that has a worn-out clutch are slippery acceleration, the excessive smell of burnt fuel.

a manual stick

A stick has generally less work to do compared to an auto

2.3. With a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)

This is a moderately new kind of engine compared to the other two. Some brands have produced cars with CVT such as Audi, Nissan, or Subaru. Having said that, the model is new but the issues are still similar to its predecessors, such as delayed engagement, loud noise when driving, leaky fluid/oil, or clattering.

And here is a Youtube video on how to inspect a car's engine and transmission, check it out as well:

>>> More posts about the transmission system:

>>> Visit our Tips & Advice section for more expert's advice from!

Hassana Obi

Hassana Obi

Car prices

Hassana Obi is an automobile writer and editor at She prides herself on hundreds of informative and entertaining articles on Nigerian traffic regulations, car prices and celebrity car collections. When Hassana is not writing, she is a teacher and philanthropist.

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