Last Updated on January 4, 2022
In this article we are going to talk about the part of the automatic transmission called the torque converter. After reading, you will know how a torque converter works, symptoms of a bad torque converter, and its average replacement cost.
How a Torque Converter Works
Basically, the rotational power of engine torque is transferred to the transmission from the engine using a torque converter. This converter is installed and mounted onto a flex plate in between the transmission and engine. The crankshaft spins the flex plate to create the conversion effect.
Underneath the cover of the torque converter is a pump which contains a bunch of blades. These blades spin like a propeller in sync with the engine crankshaft. This causes fluid from the transmission to flow onto the blades of the impeller.
This particular blade assembly is attached to the input shaft of the transmission. The speed and gear of the vehicle is determined by how much hydraulic pressure is generated inside of the transmission through this process.
Symptoms of a Bad Torque Converter
Problems with the torque converter create symptoms that are often misconstrued as being a transmission that’s failing. As a result, people will end up paying thousands of dollars just to replace their transmission or have it rebuilt.
What they don’t realize is that it may be the torque converter malfunctioning instead. The cost of replacing the torque converter is much less than replacing the transmission.
When the torque converter becomes faulty, there is more work required to be done by the vehicle just to sustain the same speed levels. The operation of the engine will require more revolutions to take place per minute, which will decrease the transmission fluid pressure and fuel economy.
Worst of all, the system generates more heat which could create even more problems in other areas too. Here’s a list of the typical symptoms you’ll find with a faulty torque converter:
#1 – Slipping of the Transmission
When a torque converter has problems, they will show themselves quickly because it won’t be able to manage the fluid properly. Either too much fluid or not enough fluid will go into the transmission, causing the gears to become slippery which results in a decrease in acceleration.
The fuel economy of the vehicle will decrease as well. There could be a low amount of transmission fluid too, so you should first inspect the fluid as soon as you notice slipping taking place.
#2 – Problems with Gear Shifts
Any delayed or soft shifts could be the symptom of the torque converter’s lowered pressure output. Instead of the transmission shifts feeling nice and crisp, they will be rough and won’t engage the way they’re supposed to.
The best way to assist the transmission so it can shift its gears properly is to increase the torque converter’s output pressure. The only way to do that is to increase the RPM of the engine.
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#3 – Vehicle Speed Problems
When the torque converter’s output is not consistent, it can result in the transmission decreasing or increasing the speed of the vehicle. Meanwhile, the throttle won’t have any concurrent changes because there will be varying hydraulic pressure.
Driving conditions could become dangerous when this happens, so don’t operate your vehicle on the road until the issue has been repaired. Having your engine stall in the middle of the road is not something you want to have happen.
The variation experienced may have a shudder feeling, but it is still a good idea to have the transmission mounts inspected and to tighten or repair these mounts if need be prior to inspecting the torque converter.
#4 – Shuddering
If you drive at around 30 mph to 45 mph and you start to feel shudders, shakes, or vibrations, the reason might have to do with problems with the torque converter. The feeling will usually resemble that of moving over a bumpy road, so it should be easy to notice.
The act of shuddering will happen suddenly without warning and then go away suddenly. But you should definitely get your transmission inspected by a professional after the very first time you experience these vibrations.
#5 – Noise
When a torque converter goes bad, there are many different kinds of noises that can be made. First, there may be a whining noise that sounds like a power-steering pump with little fluid in it.
The assembly’s motor contains a mechanism that has clutches. When this mechanism goes bad, a rattling noise can be heard. This noise might not be so loud when the vehicle’s in park.
However, once the transmission is put into gear, the frequency and volume of the rattling noise will increase, which spells trouble for your converter.
Torque Converter Replacement Cost
If you have experienced any of the symptoms mentioned above, then your torque converter possibly is at fault. The cost of getting your torque converter repaired will actually be more than just replacing the converter. However, have a mechanic or auto expert look at it first before making any decisions.
Most auto repair shops will charge someone anywhere from $600 to $1000 for a torque converter replacement job. If you would rather do the replacement job yourself, then a new torque converter will cost anywhere from $150 to $500.
The exact cost depends on the make and model of your vehicle. At least you’ll be cutting out the labor costs if you do it yourself.
It is a big job though because the transmission will have to be removed so that the torque converter can be inspected and then replaced so if you’re a beginner, it’s not something you probably want to tackle.
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53 thoughts on “5 Symptoms of a Bad Torque Converter (and Replacement Cost)”
My chevy 2011 truck out of no where almost broke down.now I’m told iT needs a torque converter..how much will.this cost..shall.i sell.the truck asap after rubbish fixed
A new torque converter will require dropping the transmission. Could be around $1500 give or take. A couple shops in the area should be able to give you a reasonable estimate.
I have a 2018 Chevy Silverado 1500 which all of this symptoms, I went to a mechanic and he pointed that the problem is the torque converter and he is charging me for replacement 800 of labor (which I think it’s affordable) however he cannot do the job till 3 weeks from now and it’s the same with all of transmission mechanics in my area. I’m very skilled and I have the tools to do it myself but I can’t find any info about what’s parts do I need to replace such as gasket, filter or seals. Any advise?
That’s a tough one. I would wait if you can, but if you want to take a crack at it yourself you should be able to find parts data and a factory service manual from Chevrolet. Check on their website at the following links:
Hope this helps, and good luck.
I noticed a whining noise and slipping in my 2015 3.2 Auto Ford Ranger only done 110,000km light work. I’ve taken it to the auto transmission shop and they quoted me $8500 to replace the converter, now they are having trouble getting converters and said for an extra $1200 they can get a heavy duty converter.
Does this sound right too you?
Is the heavy duty converter made for a different transmission or trim level?
I just had the transmission rebuilt in my 1996 Toyota Tacoma about 2 years ago….not sure of miles,but not many because of the Pandemic…started about a week ago,the gear shift was difficult to put into park….then yesterday when in gear,it started to rattle. No noise in park or neutral but in all the gears….I had it towed home and plan on getting it to mechanic tomorrow (Monday) Just to have a heads up,does it sound like the torques converter? and when the trannny was rebuilt,should that not have been replaced along with the job?
I’m not sure. It’s also possible something wasn’t torqued to spec and rattled loose.
After reading comments I felt that I was taken advantage of just replaced torque converter on 2015 Ford Escape SE AWD with 75000 miles for $2700+tax
They charged like 20 hours labor at $120 per hour. Explanation was we have to take everything out replace converter and do full transmission check up to make sure nothing wrong with it.
Does it make any sense to you guys?
Yes, it sounds right but maybe you should have got different quotes for prices. When getting something fixed (car, house, etc) always get multiple quote. That way you won’t have to second guess if you got the best deal or not.
What ya think? 2004 Ford f150 xlt 4 wd 5.4 heavy duty 3/4 ton 7 lug.
Shifts smooth up and down…no noise…but shudders on any incline release fuel or mash on it and it stops…no codes but acts like a bad coil which I’ve experienced 4 or5 times. Just did all coils and plugs 4 mos ago ( very expensive ) @ 189,000. Returned to shop and since it was not coding I was told it was the TC. Is it possible or probable one of the new coils has failed or weak and will not code. I have a hard time believing it’s the TC as every thing is heavy duty bigger suspension, radiator, tranny cooler towing package. Tranny has been maintained…….help!
Ford just replaced my torque converter on 2013 Edge it cost me $1607.00 Only had 39000 miles and was out of years warranty. 12/5/2019
I thought I lucked out on 2013 Ford Edge with 27,000 miles. No warranty. Putting in shop tomorrow to replace torque converter. Did replacing the TC fix your Edge?
I have a 2007 Ford expedition. Have been experiencing a sound and vibrations like going over a Rumble strip. We replaced the wheel bearing, biy after reading this. I am thinking torque converter. The car is paid off and has 172,000 miles on it. Would it be better to fix it and get a few more yrs out of it? We have a 2012 dodge Longhorns that we r paying on, and I really dont want/need another car payment especially at the holidays. So fix it or get ride of it..what would u do?
I have a 2006 Dodge 2500 diesel 2 wd. I pull a lot of trailers 10-12000#. On a recent trip home I came to a stop and the engine wanted to rev up and the car shuddered – as soon as I put it in neutral it rev’d a little and then the rpm went back down to normal. The trans shifted fine on the rest of my trip but every time I came to a stop it shuddered as before. Is the torque converter going bad or ????
Have a 2011 chevy cruse, with 109,000. Just had the whole transmission rebuilt, cost 3000.00. Got the car back and it shudders while stopped at stop lights on occasion, and takes it longer and a higher rpm to go into 3rd or 4th. Power is just not there anymore. Gave the car back to the mechanic who had it for 2 months , called me yesterday to pick car up saying they had to get a new computer for car and now it’s fixed. After driving it for 30 minutes it’s doing the same crap again! Is it the torque converter? I’m so confused.
I have a 2007 Pontiac g6 3.5 liter auto trans I have 300879 miles I payed 500 dollars for the car 3 years ago runs great. But it needs a t /c will I get one hell ya
Got a 2013 Hyundai Sonata limited, car stalls when you put it in drive or reverse. Engine runs fine, but soon as you put the car in drive, it stalls. Dealer is telling me the torque converter has locked up and the whole transmission needs to be replaced. I am trying to do the research but does the whole transmission have to be replaced when this happens? I have a 2011 Hyundai Elantra, that we had a problem with the Torque converter that went bad, didn’t lock up, but was under warranty back then, so they replaced the whole transmission since they said it was easier to just replace the transmission instead of replacing the torque converter, but my Sonata is not under warranty anymore. So trying to get some advice from anyone if they know anything about this kind of issue.
What was the fix? Transmission fix it?
seems to me by the prices people are paying for converter replacement or a rebuild you may as well buy another transmission if you are gonna keep the vehicle!
My 2013 Yukon xl Started making that whining noise I thought I was the steering Pump, Days later the Yukon will go only in drive or reverse for about half block and then stops then it won’t go forward or reverse till I turn it off turn it back on and then goes for another half Block, I tracked the sound to be coming from underneath the Transmission, at this point I’m not sure of the transmission is shot or I can only change that torque converter
I agree with everything that is written. Now it’s time to look at it from a shop perspective. Not that they want to take your money which I’m sure they do. But from a return perspective. Liability. Because the torque converter problems can cause or be caused by other problems. Leave a faulty torque converter in place too long you’re going to wear out the clutches. Or vice versa. So this is why you won’t find too many transmission shops willing to just swap out the converter and not do a complete rebuild. Because they don’t want the customer coming back. Gives them a bad reputation because people don’t understand. So they shotgun the whole unit to cover themselves.
My 2013 Tahoe has all the above symptoms. The Chevy dealership has the torque converter on order but it will take a week (quoted at 1350.00). In the mean time, they told me i could drive it that the damage was already done. My question is: If i drive it for another week won’t that hurt my transmission more?
I own a 1990 Buick Regal LE. It’s been stalling on me, after driving for 3 miles or so, when I come to a stop or slow down to make a turn. Im having the transmission control seleniod replaced. What should I expect the cost to be?
I had a 1967 Chevy Nova that did that and it drove me crazy. I’m not sure what you mean by “stalling” tho. My motor simply quit running. It drove me crazy until a friend thought the spark fire looked weak. We put a new coil on it and it ran like a top from there on. With weak fire, when I let off the accelerator to stop or slow down, extra fuel would get into the system. With a weak spark it would flood out and the only solution was to let it set for an hour or so. Your problem sounds strange for a transmission. Have you tried a transmission filter in case you have low flow in the tranny?
A friend had a car that did that and it was only a fuse. I on the other hand had similar problems but was not so lucky. I had to replace the fuel pump. Guess I was so lucky.
My 16 yr old son worked all summer to save his money to buy his 1st car. 5 days ago he brought a 2009 Nissan Altima for $3300 and today we find out that it needs a torque converter. They want to charge $3200 to rebuild the transmission and replace converter😡. The owner of the used car lot has declined to return his money, fix or exchange it do to it being sold as is
I feel bad for your son. Unfortunately used cars are almost always sold in as-is condition. Not knowing the miles or condition, that price seemed a bit too good to be true. It’s always a good idea to have a used car inspected by an independent mechanic but not many people do so. Obviously, that doesn’t help now. I’d recommend getting a second opinion to make sure the entire tranny needs replacement. But, you can also push a bit more on the owner of the car lot to at least contribute some money toward repairs. As a business, online reviews are important. If you were to tell him you’re going to post negative reviews about your experience, it might make him reconsider. I prefer to avoid that route but it’s likely that he knew about the issue.
Did the dealer offer your son an extended warranty? Usually they offer it to you or if you decline, they make you sign that you decline. Cox if the dealer did not offer an extended warranty coverage, you may be entitled under Lemon law. It may vary between states.
I’ve been having issues with my 2002 Ford F150 for at least a year. First the gear shift BROKE, I bought the part and had a town mechanic install it for $150. He said there was a hole in the hydraulic line so he replaced the hose. After I fixed all that the abs light and check engine light came on. I took to O’reillys in Temple to read the codes and they said exhaust system issue so I put some gum out and got it to Dallas. Then it died in the middle of the road! I called Triple A for a tow and got a shop referral to a shop next to my parents house in Dallas. They charged me $800 during the holidays, ouch! Then I had a medical evaluation in February so I drove to Temple, when it started choking again. O’reillys read the codes again and cyl #6 was misfiring so I bought the coil there and took it back to the shop in Dallas. I had to buy more gumout. When the shop said the same thing, I told them the coil is on the seat. They only charged me $30 to install $35 part? I wasn’t complaining! But that was February and by April my truck started choking again so I took it to the dealership between Temple and Belton, The Johnson Bros. I asked them to look at my truck and tell me WTH is wrong with it?! I know I need to replace the tires, but what will fix the abs and check engine lights? I told the dealership that the overdrive light was flashing on the gear shift, that was a first! They said the torque valve and seal needs replaced so they quoted $3k to replace the transmission. I’ve called my old shop in Cedar Park (Eagle Transmission) and they haven’t seen it yet but over the phone they’ve said $1500 to $2k. OMG! 😱 my truck barely has 130k miles on it, I thought Ford trucks were supposed to go a million miles and keep on going! I know the sway bar needs attn but will this fix my truck? I’m not a mechanic but I need my truck for building a ranch. Help? I’m thinking about getting a 2nd vehicle for backup. But I’m trying to avoid a truck payment so I can pay for the ranch and animals.
I’m sorry you’re having to deal with all the issues. Sounds like you’ve done everything right as far as going to multiple mechanics, having the truck scanned for codes, etc. Since you’re dealing with a variety of issues including a possible tranny replacement, you really need to consider replacing it before sinking a ton of money into it. We’re talking about a truck that’s almost 20 years old. Sure it should last longer, but unfortunately that’s not the case every time. I hear you about avoiding a truck payment but you should be able to get something comparable and even newer for only a little more than the cost of all the repairs needed.
Thanks for the article!! Clearly knowledgeable! I have a Honda accord 2007 auto. The box shifts fine, nothing seems to be having issues at all other than a rather loud whining sound in second and third gear only. No whine in neutral, or other gears. Now the reason i am suspecting the converter, is this whining sound is almost like fan blades hitting the edge of something. For me to describe this whine is almost impossible, but its not really like a standard bearing whine at all.. Of course as its 2nd and 3rd, it would likely eliminate the TC (but that is my question) as i would expect it be all gears. The whining started about 10 000 km’s ago, barely noticeable but is building up to pretty noisy. Could the TC be the culprit? Or am i dreaming here! Thanks very much
youa re basically better off gettung rid of any car thats has any type of transmission failure
they can never be replaired thouroughly properly or competently unless they are replaced totally as one complete new unit from the dealer
sorry but sometimes the truth hurts
Hi. I have a 2003 Ford F250 5.4 I had a transmission line brake while driving and draining the Transmission. I didn’t realize it BROKE until the truck stopped. Iri replaced the line filled the transmission. When I put it in gear it won’t move. And dosen’t make a sound.
Prolly killed the input pump
My co-worker was just quoted around CDN$5000 (US$4000) to have his 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee’s torque converter replaced. This sounds outlandish to me, but he’s very trusting of the referral he got to this mechanic. I’m wondering if there’s more wrong than he’s told me. Any thoughts?
If it’s just replacing the torque converter, that price is ridiculous. The cost of labor is not cheap though since they have to pull the tranny. They might also be rebuilding the tranny though. I’d recommend taking it to a transmission shop for quote.
I have a mercedes c270 cdi 2001 how much would is cost to replace a torque converter plz
The torque converter itself new costs about $800, so that’s an awful lot of labor to drop the box and swap it out. Oh, plus some trans fluid. Imho.
What is the cost to replace the torque converter on 2005 Chrysler 300
I have a 2013 ford escape and its vibrating when i drive, im about to have the torque converter replaced, am i wrong or not i was also told to have the transmission flushed since i have over 100,000 miles on it
Stay away from your escape. run fast. I replaced the transmission twice in two years and it was a 2013 with under 100k
If you haven’t had your transmission fluid changed at all, don’t risk doing it , you’ll only make the transmission worst. Just change the filter and add the fluid back in that was lost changing the filter and add some trans max or Lucas slip fix, because after so long , that funk in the fluid may be what it’s holding it together
You’re definitely wrong sir, no matter the mileage you should have trans serviced, the fluid actually becomes acidic to the clutch’s. NEVER, let me repeat NEVER put that crap in your transmission Lucas or any of it!!! It’s trash and will “gum up” your transmission and destroy it!! I have been building transmissions for over 20 years actually got masters through Ford and I would have to say out of all the manufacturers Ford has the best training. Most people choose not to follow what manufacture recommended services because people like you who tells them not to! I am not a “mechanic” I am a technician who is actually factory trained. So please stop giving poor advice and do some more research before telling people not to do things the factory recommends, they are the engineers who designed it and know what it needs. Like I said I have been doing this over 20 years and I am constantly going for training.
Acura charged me $1234.43 plus tax and said that was 1/2 price. I think it should have been under warranty for a 2005 MDX
Warranty after 13 yrs and who know how many miles? I don’t think you are supposed to smoke the glue. Then again what do I know …. I’m just a dumb grease monkey.
—–Old post I know. Just couldn’t help myself
2014 Ford Escape – 56,000 miles-bought new – was it defective or? Seems like not too much mileage for this part to be replaced? Will the car be the same – or will I continue to have problems with the transmission going forward – should I get rid of this car? What do you think? Dealership will be doing the repair which fortunately is covered till 60,000 but not far from getting to that mileage where the transmission will no longer be covered. What do you think?
Depends how much you’re in it for. If you’re deep underwater on your loan, which you almost certainly are with a Ford, you have no choice but to keep it on the road until it’s paid off. If you have to go into more high-interest debt for the repair bills, but can’t afford to pay it off, park the car in the backyard and get a late-model Honda Fit or Kia Soul, though avoid the infamous Theta engine on the Soul. No bank will finance an LTV that high without a way to hide the negative eqity in rebates. The only cars that meet that criteria are the Nissan Rogue, Mitsubishi Outlander, and Dodge Journey, all of which make your Ford look like a Toyota by comparison. You’d probably end up paying double the car’s value in interest too, if a high LTV forces you to go with the dealer’s financing.
If the car’s paid off though, then yeah get rid of it ASAP. Consider this a lesson learned about the big 3: they can make great cars, but they do it inconsistently, and because the NHTSA for protectionist reasons avoids issuing recalls on American cars until PR pressure gets too high to avoid it, if anything goes wrong you’re on the hook. We’ve all owned a Ford, Chrysler, or GM at one point, but unless it’s one of their famous performance bargains or fairly solid full-size trucks, most people don’t buy a second. You’re very fortunate that the Ford didn’t destroy your finances, so take advantage of that to get a good interest rate on something else. A torque converter should last the life of the car, and the life of a well-built modern car is a bare minimum of 200k miles. Anything you take care of should easily go over 250k, though it might need a new transmission on the way. Imports can be dicey sometimes too, but as long as you avoid Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, and VW it ought to work out. Plenty of Hondas, Kia/Hyndais and Toyotas are made in America.
Hi i took my car to the main dealer to be checked out and i was told my gear box is gone (need replacing it) which cost a lot of money so i decided to take it to All gear specialist who advised me it needs torque converter, so i gave him a go ahead to replace it costing nearly £1000 but a few weeks later the car developed some kind of vibration when i am driving at speed of 30-50 mph, is it to do with the replacement of torque converter or could be something else, please advise.
It is called “shudder”. If you can find Lubeguard 2 oz. Shudder Fixx it should fix your problem.
Where do you get this?