What is transmission slipping?
One of the most dreaded things to happen to a driver is transmission slipping, also known as pre-transmission failure. In layman's terms, this is when your transmission or gearbox system stops engaging well enough. It either doesn't engage, engages late and too early or engages to any speed at will. It not only ruins the driving experience but can cause accidents and damage to the car engine.
This transmission slipping problem is experienced a lot by drivers of automatic cars than manual. Perhaps because they have less control over their gear engagement unlike the manual car drivers. It might start as a small issue which you'll overlook since its an automated car, it can fix itself. This can escalate and you'll have to carry out major maintenance running into hundreds of thousands it get it fixed.
But you might ask, what are the causes of transmission slipping? Before then, let's know the signs first.
Always maintain your transmission system to avoid malfunction
It's not easy to actually know that your car is showing signs of transmission slipping. However, there are certain signs to keep an eye out for. For example, your vehicle can start reving too high. Instead of the usual 1,500 revolutions per minute, your car can go as high as 3,500 rpm which makes the engine misfire. Other signs include strange noises coming from the engine, stiffness of the transmission especially for manual cars, the engine light going off and on, foul smell, difficulty in reversing your vehicle and hampered acceleration.
Once your car exhibits any of these, it's time to visit a mechanic shop for more troubleshooting.
Causes of transmission slipping/ pre-transmission failure
1. Transmission fluid problems
Your car's transmission fluid enables the gears to shift normally. If you noticed from the list of causes, difficulty in gear shifting is one. However, when the fluid level is lower than it should there will be less hydraulic pressure and the car will end up over heating. Once this happens, transmission slipping is likely to occur next. That's why it's always wise to inspect the fluid levels of your car every day before driving. Once that of the transmission is low, top it up so that the gears can be well engaged. That said, it will be weird if your transmission fluid gets lower and lower day by day. This might be as a result of transmission leakage.
Leak of transmission fluid is also another cause of transmission slipping. These leaks can be as a result of defective seals, a crack in the torque converter, worn out pan and pan gasket, leak in the pans or the fuel lines and so on. Once you notice these leaks (which usually spills to the floor of when your car is parked), kindly call your mechanic. Managing the car while driving can cause a lot of damage along with the transmission slipping including overheating. When the engine overheats, the transmission fluid can as well get burnt. Burnt fluid becomes inefficient and leads to slipping. The oil will contain a lot of debris which will cause wears and tears instead of lubricating the transmission. Once this is the case, change the fluid and also have your mechanic look at it.
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2. Worn out gears and transmission bands
When you have used your transmission for a long while, gears can wear out. This can be as a result of other factors including worn out transmission bands. These bands are like the linkage between the all the automatic transmission gears in your car. So if you drive an automatic car, never neglect the bands. Once you notice they have started doing badly, change them immediately. If the bands haven't gotten bad, there's how your mechanic can adjust it a bit so it still works fine.
Clearly your car can't operate smoothly if its gears are worn out
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3. Issues with your clutch
You might think this issue is for manual cars alone but don't forget that automatic cars have clutches too. Oh, you didn't know? Well, the clutch in the automatic transmission is located in the torque converter and around the transmission system. It is in form of a plate which can get burnt or worn out over time. If you don't have enough fluid in your transmission, the plates get bad faster. This applies to manual cars too. In fact, manual transmission cars experience transmission slipping once the clutch wear out. The clutch eventually fails and transmission slips and fails too. That's why you should always check your clutch and change or fix it immediately you notice any fault.
4. Defective solenoid and torque converter
There's an electrical and hydraulic valve in your transmission system that ensure fluid flows adequately through out the transmission. It is known as a solenoid. Once it gets bad, the fluid it controls might be too low or too high. This leads to leaks, overheating, crack of pans amongst others. Once you diagnose the problem and are certain it's the solenoid, change it as soon as you can.
Finally, your torque converter going bad is one of the causes of transmission slipping. Since it is meant to ensure that the torque and power of your car engine are well synced, it accepts the transmission fluid fit easy adaptation. When the fluid doesn't flow well enough through this converter, the transmission slips and can eventually fail. Once you notice any of these problems, visit your car technician immediately to avoid more problems on your hands.