Automatic Transmission Slipping Symptoms

Last Updated on January 16, 2019

Automatic Transmission Slipping in your car can leave you stuck unexpectedly and can even lead to the preventable rebuilding of a new transmission. However, with some basic knowledge about the warning signs and symptoms of automatic transmission slipping, you completely avoid the high expenses towards repairing your cars transmission. A vehicle’s transmission helps to control the pressure that the engine produces at different times. With automatic gear vehicles, the transmission functions to ensure the smooth transition between gears without the driver manually shifting the vehicle.

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Even though transmission slipping is one of the common problems with cars, sometimes it becomes tricky while identifying the major cause before resolving the problem. The following common automatic transmission slipping symptoms always affect the entire transmission system, and identifying the right one can save your wallet from incurring avoidable costs.

Leakage of Transmission Fluid

Most occurrences of transmission slipping take place when the car has low levels of fluids due to leakages. You can find the leakages in one or different places due to a punctured pan, damaged pan gaskets, burst fluid lines, broken seals or even fissures in the torque converter. If you insist on driving your vehicle without attending to such leakages, it could result in severe internal impairment of the entire transmission system. Therefore, you need to take precautionary measures and seal them immediately. You can check the base of your car to identify the exact leaking locations and seal them using special friction modifier additives.

Unusual Smells

A burning smell from the engine or ever under your car means that either the transmission has overheated or its fluids have started leaking into the exhaust. The transmission fluid has a huge responsibility when it comes to keeping the transmission system working effectively. It constantly lubricates the system to prevent overheating. Any leakages causes the fluids to sip into the engine making it hot. The produced smell from the burning fluid is an indication of transmission slipping.

Check Engine Light

Check engine light warns a car owner of many things, including problems with the transmission. However, a combination of the above symptoms with the constant warnings from the “check engine light” should prompt you to have your transmission system diagnosed by a professional mechanic. The mechanic can use a special diagnostic tool to ascertain the reasons behind the warning light, along with the error code that the computer generates.

Rough shifts

As you drive your car, you might feel like it repeatedly refuses to change gears smoothly or normally, meaning that every time you will experience an unusually rough shift. In certain occasions, you might hear or feel a sudden “thud” or “clunk” while shifting gears. If you eventually notice the car having difficulties to pick up speed, that is a clear indication of automatic transmission slipping.

Delays in Engaging Shifts

Symptoms of delayed shift engagements means that your car takes a few more seconds before it actually engages into drive to accelerative forward. When shifting the vehicle from Parking” (P) to Drive (D), you will notice a long break in which the vehicle revs the engine while you press the gas pedal. It will not accelerate forward as usual.

The above symptoms require the professional services of a qualified mechanic. Any need for transmission repair, such as replacing parts need monitoring. You should also ask about the warranty of the parts, especially when the automatic transmission needs rebuilding.

Read Also: Clogged Fuel Filter Symptoms in Your Vehicle



  1. It’s good to know that leakages can come from a punctured pan or a burst fluid line. Last night, I noticed that my car was dripping fluid that looks like transmission fluid, and I’m worried that something is wrong. I’ll have to take it to an auto shop to get it fixed right away.

    • A slow leak makes a mess but probably won’t hurt anything, provided the oil level stays above the “low” line. It’s best to get it fixed anyway so the leak doesn’t damage the road or your driveway.


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