In the world of engineering, it is very unusual for a component to fail without any warning. Often, impending disaster will be foreshadowed by strange behaviour, an unusual sound, weird smell or the odd leak. As a car or truck owner, this is good to know as it can help you to avoid some of the more expensive repairs associated with a major failure. It does mean that you need to have your wits about you, however, and be very aware if some of these warning signs seem to relate to your transmission. What should you be on the lookout for?
If your car is fitted with an automatic transmission, this may be a godsend for you as you simply sit behind the wheel and steer it, rather than worrying about manual operation. As you may imagine, this system is very complicated and comes under a great deal of pressure, and this is why manufacturers recommend that you maintain it according to a proper schedule.
Nevertheless, you may not have been so attentive, and now something appears to be going wrong. Pinpoint your symptoms, and this will give you a clue as you move towards a diagnosis.
Inside the transmission system are several independent clutches that engage or disengage specific gears. As they have to deal with friction on a consistent basis, they will degrade with time, which means that you may notice that the vehicle appears to hesitate whenever you first shift the lever into "drive." One or more of these clutch mechanisms may need to be adjusted or replaced as appropriate.
Joints or Linkage?
You may also notice a new noise whenever the vehicle shifts between gears. First, you need to determine where this noise is coming from. If it seems to originate at the road wheel, then it could be associated with a failed constant velocity joint, but if it appears to be beneath your seat, then it's an internal failure within the transmission.
Sometimes the vehicle will rattle whenever stationary, and this could indicate that the bearings are worn within the transmission casing. Alternatively, the teeth on the primary gear may have seen their better days.
All Going Wrong
If the car appears to change into the wrong gear for the road conditions ahead, or if it seems to slip out of gear at any time, you may need to get the linkage adjusted. You may also need to look at this device if the car refuses to move at all whenever you instruct it to.
Eye to the Floor
Finally, keep an eye on the floor of your garage, to look for any tell-tale signs of an issue. Automatic transmission fluid is usually clear and has a sweet-smelling consistency, but if you notice some darker red spots with a tinge of brown or black, then you need to call your mechanic as soon as possible for further advice.