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Common Causes of Transmission Slipping

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Common Causes of Transmission Slipping

An automatic or manual transmission should engage smoothly and firmly when the vehicle is moving, but when it hesitates or slips when up-shifting, it is not working properly. Transmission slipping can easily become a major concern with massive costs if not attended to immediately. There are several causes of slipping in automatic transmissions, though the problem is usually associated with the clutch for manual transmissions.  

Diagnosing slipping is not easy, as it can appear in a variety of forms when driving, though there are a few signs that can help you detect it, including: 

• High RPM – above 3,500  

• Inability to reverse  

• Delays in acceleration  

• Unusual or burnt smells  

• Difficulty in shifting gears  

• The check engine light going off  

• Shifting gears is rough or produces strange noises 


If you detect any of these problems, it is likely that your transmission is slipping.
Some of the common causes of slipping include:
1. Low fluid levels  

This is the most common and easily fixed cause of transmission slipping. If your transmission does not have sufficient fluid, it could create several problems, including overheating and lack of sufficient hydraulic pressure to engage the gears. If this is the cause of slipping, you can easily tell by checking the fluid level using a dipstick, while the engine is idling. If the level is below the FULL mark, add one pint at a time while rechecking the dipstick reading.  

2. Low fluid pressure  

Internal pressure is necessary to shift and engage normally, but it can reduce significantly if the pump is worn, or the pickup tube or fluid filter is plugged. 

3. Transmission fluid leak  

Leakages can occur anywhere, like a worn pan gasket, ruptured fluid lines, hole in the pan, faulty seals, or crack in the torque converter, leading to low fluid levels. Leaks are easy to diagnose if you spot some oil under your car or on the driveway. Leaks should be fixed immediately to avoid serious internal damage.  

4. Burnt or ineffective fluid  

It can be distinguished by its burnt smell or black col or, often due to overheating, and should be diagnosed by a specialist for further damage, and then replaced.  

5. Faulty pressure regulation  

Pressure inside an automatic transmission is controlled by pressure solenoid valves or a pressure regulator. Any damage or electronic faults in the solenoid, control valves, or sensors can cause the wrong amounts of fluid to be dispersed. The problem is easily diagnosed by plugging a scanner in the car’s computer. 

6. Worn/broken transmission bands 

Bands link the gears together in automatic transmissions, and wear or breakage can cause the transmission to slip, as well as other gear wear and engine problems. Damaged bands should be replaced. 

7. Worn out gears  

Gears wear out with time, though some sort of malfunction can also damage them, preventing them from linking together properly. If this is the cause of slipping, the gears should be replaced. 

8. Clutch problems

The clutch in automatic transmissions can become worn or burnt from insufficient ATF. Worn clutches are the cause of slipping in 90 percent of cases in manual transmissions. They have to be replaced every 20, 000 to 200,000 miles. 

You can solve some of the causes of transmission slipping that don’t require much experience yourself. For complex procedures that involve bands, clutches, solenoids or dismantling the transmission, it is important that you bring your car to Pro-Tech Transmissions so a specialist can fix it.

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