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Transmission Problem Diagnosis

Abhijit Naik
Being well-versed with the basic symptoms of transmission problems can be of great help when it comes to transmission troubleshooting, as these problems, when left unattended, can snowball into major issues and make a hole in your pocket.
Unusual noise from the transmission box, odd shifting, delayed gear engagement, burning odor, etc. are symptoms which come handy when it comes to diagnosis of various transmission problems that you are likely to face. However, most of the vehicle users tend to misinterpret these symptoms as minor issues - a dangerous practice which can be attributed to ignorance on how the transmission works.
Basically, the transmission system is one of the most crucial component of the vehicle which is assigned the task of transmitting power from the engine to the live axle - via the driveshaft. Transmission problems occur when this process is hampered as a result of low transmission fluid, excessive wear and tear of transmission parts, or some other underlying reason which hinders this process.

How to Diagnose Transmission Problems?

The transmission system is one of the most active component of the vehicle when it comes to overall working mechanism, and the amount of wear and tear that it is subjected to on a regular basis explains why transmission problems are not rare as such.
These problems occur frequently regardless of whether you own a car with manual transmission or one with automatic transmission.
However, the good thing is that they are accompanied by some symptoms which make the task of diagnosing the underlying problem a lot easier. Simply put, transmission diagnosis is all about identifying the symptoms that help you understand what exactly is wrong with your car.
If your car is equipped with a check engine light or transmission overdrive light, it will start flashing when there is some problem with the transmission. In some of the recently launched models, the transmission is controlled by a computer which has to be scanned to determine whether everything is in place.
While these methods rely on technology, you can also carry out a general diagnosis on your own by relying on your observation skills and using a bit of common sense.

Transmission Fluid Problems

One of the foremost thing to do when you suspect transmission problem is to check the transmission fluid levels in the vehicle, as most of these problems are attributed to low transmission fluid.
The transmission fluid acts as a lubricant as well as coolant in the vehicles, thus making sure that problems like overheating and excessive wear and tear of transmission parts don't occur.
You can check for the fluid level in the vehicle using a dipstick. As transmission fluid functions as a coolant, one of the basic symptoms of low transmission fluid will be overheating of transmission.
If the transmission fluid is low, you should also check for possible signs of leakage. If there is any leakage, you are bound to see puddles of fluid in the driveway or garage wherein you park your car.
Other than low levels, at times you may also notice that the fluid has turned dark and a burning odor is emanating from the same. Some experts are of the opinion that bad transmission fluid is as harmful for the vehicle as no transmission fluid.
If the problem is about low transmission fluid or bad transmission fluid, opting for a fluid change can help you do away with the same.

Diagnosing Other Transmission Problems

If overuse of vehicle has resulted in excessive wear and tear of transmission parts, it will reflect in form of grinding noise when you try shifting gear. You will also experience a lag when you opt for gear shift alongside the problem of delayed shift.
A few jolts here and there, some wobbling when you start your vehicle, whining noise from the transmission when the vehicle is moving also hint at transmission problem - which is most often attributed to wear and tear of transmission parts. At times, you will also experience that the engine will rev up, but the car won't respond accordingly.
In cars with manual transmission, the problem most often lies with linkage or shift mechanisms which get worn out with time. More importantly, any damage to the shift rod or worn-out linkage can also make the manual transmission get stuck into a particular gear.
When it comes to automatic transmission, one of the simplest methods is to park the vehicle on a slight incline and put the gear selector in 'P' drive which is meant for parking it. If the vehicle rolls down the incline when you do so, it's a sign of transmission problem - again excessive wear and tear of transmission parts.
While these symptoms do come handy in preliminary diagnosis, some things are best left to the experts. When you realize that something is wrong with the vehicle, you should promptly take your vehicle to the workshop wherein the experts will help you figure out what exactly is wrong with your vehicle.
On the basis of their diagnosis, he will be able to tell you how to go about with transmission repair process.