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 its time to schedule an appointment.

  1. 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 clutch slipping when going up a hill in too high of a gear.
  2. 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.
  3. Unfamiliar Sounds: A grinding, humming, whirring, or howling noise while you drive is a solid indicator that your transmission is experiencing problems.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Transmission not shifting gears: Struggling or outright refusing to change gears can indicate low or incorrect transmission fluid.
  7. 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.
  8. Transmission not engaging: If you shift from park to drive or reverse and nothing happens, your transmission is most likely having issues.
  9. 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.
  10. Clutch drag (manual): On 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 stalls, an issue is preventing the clutch from fully disengaging.
  11. Shaking: 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!

What Does It Mean When The Brake Light Comes On?

Any time a dash warning light comes on in your vehicle is anxiety-inducing. Most drivers worry when they see a check engine light, but the brake warning light is arguably more concerning. Brakes keep you safe on the road, and if they are having issues, you should not delay getting them inspected.

The braking system amplifies the force of your foot on the pedal with a system of lines filled with hydraulic brake fluid. This amplified force clamps down on brake discs or activates a brake drum, converting your car’s kinetic energy to heat, slowing it down.

While it is unlikely that your brakes have completely failed when the light comes on, it’s better to err on the side of caution. The light can come on for reasons ranging from benign to dangerous.

 What causes the brake light to come on?

The brake warning light comes on when there is a fault in the braking system, just like the check engine light comes on when there is an engine malfunction. The light warns the driver of an issue, but further investigation is needed to determine the cause of the problem. Learn the most common causes for an illuminated brake warning light:

The emergency brake is still on

Emergency brakes vary by vehicle, but when a conventional lever or pedal E-brake is not released entirely, the brake warning light can come on. Some modern vehicles will beep if you are driving with the emergency brake engaged. To turn off the light, just fully release the E-brake.

Low brake fluid

The brake fluid reservoir sits on top of the master cylinder. The reservoir has a sensor that triggers the brake warning light when the fluid level falls too low. On most cars, it is found directly in front of the driver’s side of the car. Low brake fluid indicates a leak in the system, which can impact the effectiveness of the brakes.

Sensor failure

A car’s braking system has sensors monitoring fluid level, E -brake position, and in some cases brake pad life. A failed sensor can trigger the brake warning light. A technician will need to look at your vehicle to determine whether the light is caused by a failed sensor or an actual issue with the braking system.

Brake pad life 

This cause is highly vehicle dependent. Some cars have sensors that monitor the wear levels of your brake pads. If the pads wear out, the brake warning light can come on. Replacing your pads will turn off the lights.

ABS issues

Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) often have dedicated warning lights. However, troubles in the ABS can trigger a brake warning light too. To diagnose an ABS issue, a mechanic will need to read the codes from the on-board computer.

My brake light came on when I was driving, what should I do?

If you happen to be driving when the brake warning light first comes on, carefully pull over in a safe area and turn your car off. The first and easiest thing to check is your emergency brake. If the E-brake is fully released, get out of the car and check your brake fluid level. Add brake fluid to the reservoir if it’s low. If the light turns off, continue driving, and get your car to a shop to check for a fluid leak.

If both the e-brake is released and the fluid level is normal, call a tow truck and get your vehicle to a shop as soon as possible. Information from the computer and professional examination is needed to determine the cause of the problem.

Let the brake experts at Becker Service Center help!

Our technicians will quickly get to the bottom of your brake warning light and fix the problem, whether it’s a faulty sensor or a severe fluid leak. If you are having brake issues, give us a call or schedule an appointment today!

Why Is My Car Going Through Coolant So Quickly?

Coolant is an essential fluid in your vehicle. Without it, components will overheat and destroy your engine, leading to expensive repairs. If you notice coolant on the ground where you park or are constantly needing to add additional coolant to the engine, there is a good chance you have a coolant leak.

The cooling system in your car is complex and travels throughout the engine. There are many different places a leak can occur, and diagnosing it can be tricky. Continue reading to learn about the most common causes of a coolant leak, and how to address them.

The experienced technicians at Becker Service Center can quickly locate and repair a coolant leak in your car, protecting your engine and keeping you on the road.

Coolant is important

You’ve seen it before. A car is pulled over on the side of the road, hood open, with white smoke billowing everywhere. A blown coolant hose or similar catastrophe will keep a car parked until it gets repaired. These situations are certainly dramatic and will render your vehicle undrivable. A slow coolant leak may not leave you stranded, but without addressing the leak you still run the risk of overheating your engine.

Coolant is essential when it comes to keeping your engine cool. Any time your coolant system is compromised, it is crucial to get it checked out.

How does a car’s cooling system work?

The cooling system in modern vehicles cycles coolant through the engine, absorbing some of the heat created while it’s running. The coolant travels through the engine, heater core (supplying heat to the passengers), thermostat, and radiator with the help of a water pump driven by the engine.

What can cause a coolant leak?

Coolant consumption or leaks can be the result of many different issues. Generally, any area with a gasket, seal, plastic, or rubber runs the risk of degrading, cracking, and wearing out:

Cracked or broken coolant hoses

Rubber hoses connect various elements of the cooling system, and the rubber can deteriorate in the extreme temperatures and conditions of the engine bay.

Head gasket(s) leaking

Coolant comes in contact with the gasket separating the cylinder head from the bottom end of the engine. If this gasket starts leaking, coolant can escape the system and enter the combustion chamber of the cylinders, or leak out to the outside of the engine block.  

A head gasket leak is a serious issue. If you notice excessive white smoke coming out of your exhaust, coolant may be entering the cylinders. Avoid driving and get your car to a technician immediately.

Punctured radiator

The radiator is a heat exchanger, removing heat from coolant coming back from the engine. When the radiator is punctured, coolant will escape, leaking out on to the ground. A severe puncture will be very noticeable, while a smaller one will drip slower like a cracked or damaged coolant hose.

Worn water pump seals

Coolant can leak from your vehicle’s water pump if the seals inside begin to wear out.

Leaking heater core

The heater core uses the hot coolantto heat the cabin of your vehicle. If the heater core is leaking. A leaking heater core can have several noticeable symptoms depending on the severity.

Where is the leaking coolant going?

If you are regularly topping off your coolant, you have a coolant leak somewhere in the system. It can be difficult to identify where the leak is coming from. Often it is best to have a professional diagnose a coolant leak, but there are a few things you can check before bringing your car into a shop.

Check where you park

Look on the ground under where you park your car. Wet spots or puddles of liquid can indicate an external coolant leak.

Check the exhaust

If you don’t notice any drips or puddles under where you park, the coolant may be leaking internally. If the leak is the result of a failing head gasket, look to the exhaust. White smoke in the tailpipe can indicate coolant entering the combustion chamber of the engine.

Visually inspect the engine

Open the hood of your vehicle and take a look around. ALLOW YOUR VEHICLE TO COOL DOWN BEFORE INSPECTING THE ENGINE. COMPONENTS CAN BE VERY HOT AND PRESSURIZED. If the leak is bad enough, you may notice green, blue, or orange liquid dripping or coating engine components. Examine hoses and the engine block itself. Pull the oil dipstick and look at the oil. Oil contaminated with coolant from a head gasket leak can have a cloudy or milky appearance.

Check under the dashboard

The heater core resides behind the dash on the passenger side of your car. If there is a coolant leak coming from the heater core, the floor beneath the dashboard may be wet.

Does the cabin smell like coolant?

If you notice the sweet smell of coolant when you are driving your car, this can be another indication of a leaking heater core.

Contact a mechanic

Regardless of whether or not you locate the source of the coolant leak, be sure to contact a trained technician to get it fixed. If no coolant appears on the ground, a mechanic can do a pressure test to determine where the coolant is leaking internally. If the leak appears to be severe, do not drive your vehicle. If the engine overheats it can be destroyed, and your repair bill will increase significantly.

Let us help!

The ASE Certified technicians at Becker’s Service Center Diagnose and repair your coolant leak. Give us a call or schedule an appointment today!