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Transmission Failure 101

Transmission Failure 101

Reading Time: 2 minutes

So far, we’ve discussed the maintenance of transmission systems and what different types of automatic transmission are commonly available. This has brought us to the ultimate topic of how a transmission fails, why it does this and what can be done when it actually happens.

Your transmission should be the never seen, never heard part of your car. They are expensive to replace and absolutely critical to the smooth-running, efficiency, and performance of your vehicle.

The good news is that most transmissions don’t simply fail from one day to the next – they usually give you ample warning. First, we’ll discuss some common warnings of transmission failure and what to do about them.

Whining Sound During The Drive

If your vehicle makes a loud whining noise while moving up through the gears or at a particular speed, there is likely to be wear in the differential.

On some cars, this is housed along with the gears and on others, (such as most BMWs) it has its own enclosure. The first port of call is to get your differential oil changed. Foreign Affairs Motorsport only uses the model-specific oil of the highest quality.

If after an oil change the noise remains, it is most likely to be worn roller bearings on the side or propeller shafts. Depending on the severity of the situation, these may need to be replaced. Our ASE Certified team will be able to give you advice on this for your specific model.

Grating Into And Out Of Gears

Ironically, this is most commonly a clutch-fault.

In the case of a manual transmission, the clutch usually just needs adjusting, but on some high mileage heroes, it may need to be completely replaced along with the release bearing. The same is true for dual-clutch systems on Volkswagen Audi Group cars and Porsches. Failing to do this will result in permanent damage to the gearbox and/or engine flywheel.

On the older automatics with fluid couplings, this could be a torque converter fault, which is often rectified by doing an ATF change. In extreme cases, the torque converter may need to be rebuilt.

It could also be linked to a computer sensor failure for all types of automatic transmission.

Difficulty Finding Gears Or Grating On A Specific Shift

For stick-shift, this is usually a selector fork or linkage problem, or can often be traced to worn synchro-mesh. In this case, the linkage or gearbox usually needs to be rebuilt and the worn components replaced.

Shaking When Taking Off

Commonly misinterpreted as a transmission problem, this is usually due to slip in the clutch or worn engine mounts or transmission mounts.

If your car has overheated recently, it may cause degradation to the transmission oil and this could lead to gear shift problems—If you suspect this get your transmission oil changed as soon as possible.

Total transmission failure rarely occurs. However, if there is a pool of oil under your car and you are unable to select any gears, cannot take-off, or remain stuck in one gear it’s best to seek expert advice.

Remember the cardinal rule for all transmission types: DO NOT TOW the car! Call a pick-up service and bring your problem to our expert team at Foreign Affairs Motorsport.

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