Slipping Transmission: What Does It Mean?

6 March 2015
 Categories: , Blog


The transmission of your car is what turns the explosive power of your engine into tire-turning speed. Sometimes though, you press on the gas and your car just sputters. You feel a strange shudder through the car and you wonder what exactly is happening. This is transmission slippage. When transmission slippage occurs, the gears in your car are not meshing correctly, which can cause your RPMs to spike or a delay in shifting. Before you call for emergency transmission repair, check a few things first.  

Fluids Make the Transmission go 'Round

The first thing to do if you notice your transmission behaving like this is to check the fluid. You are not just checking the fluid level, although that is important. Use a clean, white cloth or paper towel and look at the color as well. Smell the fluid. If the transmission fluid smells burnt or smoky, this is a sign of a problem. When you look at the fluid on the paper towel, check its color. It should be a red or pink color, but if it has black bits or any sort of gritty residue, this is another indication that you need transmission repair.

Sometimes the Problem is Inside

If there is no problems indicated by the color or smell of the fluid and the level is full, then the slippage is being caused by the clutch itself. This can be due to worn clutch plates. When the clutch plates are worn, the gear teeth cannot engage and lock to each other, causing slippage.

Another cause can be the transmission bands. In your automatic transmission there are bands that wrap around each gear and shift the gears in and out in tandem. If the gear bands are worn or have been adjusted incorrectly, the gears will fail to disengage or engage correctly. The wear in the bands makes them loose, which can allow the gears to slip out of place instead of staying where they should.

Other Things That Can Happen

In rare cases, the torque converter can fail. The torque converter is a pump that is used to pressurize transmission fluid. This pressure pushes the transmission gears and the transmission bands, keeping the gears in place. Without proper pressurization, the gears can slip, causing loss of power transfer. The torque converter's fins can wear out and flatten, slowly reducing the effectiveness of the pump. Working hand in hand with the torque converter is the transmission solenoid. This valve controls the ebb and flow of fluid through your transmission. It is an electrohydraulic valve and if it goes bad, it will need to be replaced.

The transmission of your car is complicated, and if it goes bad can cause you a headache. Thankfully, keeping on top of any issues can usually prevent expensive transmission repairs. For any questions, consult a professional like Pro Transmission.