5 Transmission Slipping Symptoms (and Common Causes)

A slipping transmission is more common in automatic transmission vehicles than manual vehicles simply because there are a lot more automatics around. But this doesn’t mean that it can’t happen with manual transmissions because it can, especially with a new or aggressive driver.

A slipping manual transmission usually has to do with a clutch problem, while a slipping automatic transmission can have a variety of causes and symptoms. It is best to get the problem fixed as soon as you identify there is one. Otherwise, the problem will only get worse and more expensive to fix.

In most cases, your transmission may just need some maintenance. Don’t assume that your transmission is shot just because it has slipping issues.

Top 5 Symptoms of Transmission Slippage

First, you need to understand what the common symptoms are for a slipping transmission. Below are the top 5 symptoms.

1) Acceleration Delays

gas pedal hesitation when accelerating

If you step on the gas pedal and there is a slight delay before the acceleration kicks in, then you could have a slipping transmission problem. This will happen a lot when you go from park to drive and then start to accelerate from an idle position.

The delays will continue periodically as you’re driving and will only continue to get worse.

2) RPM Increases But Vehicle Speed Doesn’t

As you step on the accelerator pedal, the RPM on your tachometer go up but your vehicle speed doesn’t increase at the same rate. You may even see the tach needle go up over 3,000 or even 4,000 RPM. This is clearly a sign that you need to have your transmission checked.

3) Reverse Fails

transmission in reverse

If you shift the gear to reverse and you are unable to move in reverse, then you likely have a slipping transmission. This will be a problem that would require a tow truck because you need to reverse in order to get out of most parking lots or driveways.

4) Shifting Gears Difficulty

If you try to shift gears and it is difficult to do so, this is not a normal situation. A slipping transmission is likely the reason for this. You may even hear unusual noises too while you’re trying to shift.

5) Burning Smell

car smells

A burning smell may be present if you are shifting gears. It will fill the cabin which will make it easily noticeable.

Read Also: 5 Causes of a Car Won’t Turn Over

Top 3 Causes of Transmission Slippage

Now that you know the symptoms, below are 3 tips to identify a slipping transmission as the reason for these symptoms.

1) Low Transmission Fluid

low transmission fluid symptoms

Most transmission problems start with low levels of transmission fluid. It will cause overheating, burnt fluid, and low hydraulic pressure for starters. As a result, the gears won’t be able to get engaged fully and you will have slipping.

So, check your transmission fluid level to make sure you have enough and add more fluid if necessary. If you don’t, then check around to see if there is a transmission fluid leak in any of the relevant parts.

A leak could come from fluid lines, pan gasket, pan, seals, or torque converter. If you locate the leak, then replace the part where it is coming from because it is probably damaged or worn out.

2) Solenoid Issues

The electro-hydraulic valve known as the “solenoid” is responsible for managing the transmission’s fluid flow. But if the solenoid were to have problems, then the fluid won’t be able to flow right.

Connect your OBD2 scanner to your vehicle in order to see if this is the reason.

3) Bad Torque Converter

bad torque converter symptoms

A torque converter takes power from the engine and delivers it to the transmission. If you have a worn out or faulty torque converter, then the transmission will likely slip or do other strange things.

Repairing or replacing a torque converter may require you to have an expert handle it because the job is a bit complicated.


1 thought on “5 Transmission Slipping Symptoms (and Common Causes)”

  1. The electro-hydraulic valve known as the “solenoid” is responsible for managing the transmission’s fluid flow. But if the solenoid were to have problems, then the fluid won’t be able to flow right. Connect the computer of your vehicle to a scanner in order to see if this is the reason.
    Could a fuse interfere with Solenoid? Like a number 30?


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