11 Symptoms Of Transmission Problems Every Driver Should Be Aware Of

The transmission is an integral part of a vehicle’s drivetrain. In a nutshell, transmissions select (or in the case of a manual, allow you to select) the most efficient gear ratio for the speed of your car and the RPM of the engine. Automatic and manual transmissions use gears and clutches to change between gear ratios. With so many moving parts in constant motion, transmission issues are not uncommon.

That being said, unless you know exactly what you are looking for it can be difficult to know for certain if that noise, shake, or smell you notice while driving is the result of transmission problems or another issue. The best way to know for certain if you are having transmission problems is to bring your car to a qualified mechanic, but knowing some of the symptoms of common transmission issues can help you decide whether or not it’s time to schedule an appointment.

BMW gear shifter

Slipping Transmission

If you step on the gas and the engine revs high but your car barely moves, your transmission might be slipping. A slipping transmission can produce an audible whining noise and can feel as if the transmission suddenly changed gears at a time it shouldn’t have. If you drive a car with a manual transmission, you may notice the clutch slipping when going up a hill in too high of a gear.

Hard Shifting

A rough, clunky shift can be an indication of transmission issues. A rough shift can feel as if the transmission is “dropping” into the next gear and may be accompanied by an audible clunking sound.

Unfamiliar Sounds

A grinding, humming, whirring, or howling noise while you drive is a solid indicator that your transmission is experiencing problems.

Delayed engagement when shifting

Delayed engagement occurs when you shift out of park and notice a long delay before the transmission “engages” and the car begins to move.

Burning smell

If you notice a burning smell while you drive, your transmission may be overheating. There are many possible causes for a burning smell coming from the engine bay, but if you are noticing a smell in addition to other transmission issues, it could be the culprit.

Transmission is not shifting gears

Struggling or outright refusing to change gears can indicate low or incorrect transmission fluid.

Check engine light

A check engine light can come on for countless reasons. If you are noticing other issues with your transmission and the check engine light comes on, it’s time to see a mechanic.

Transmission not engaging

If you shift from park to drive or reverse and nothing happens, your transmission is most likely having issues.

Leaking transmission fluid

A puddle of red or pink fluid beneath your car means your transmission is leaking. Get your car to a mechanic as soon as possible to stop the leak and prevent permanently damaging your transmission.

Clutch drag (manual)

In manual transmission vehicles, the clutch is operated by the driver. If you depress the clutch fully but your vehicle continues to move after you have stopped or stall, an issue is preventing the clutch from fully disengaging.


Many different components can cause your vehicle to shake. If you notice shaking in addition to other symptoms of transmission problems, they may be related.

    When to see a mechanic

    If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s time to schedule an appointment with a mechanic. Some of these symptoms can be indicative of other issues not related to your transmission. It’s important to have a professional take a look to prevent more serious and expensive damage from occurring.

    Let us help!

    The technicians at Becker Service Center have the skills and experience to diagnose and repair your transmission. If you are having issues with your transmission, don’t wait. Give us a call or schedule an appointment at our Naperville repair shop today!