Gearbox Failing? The Signs To Look Out For

At North West Transmissions, we work solely with gearboxes and transmissions, repairing all types of units and also supplying reconditioned units.

And, working with gearboxes day in, day out for decades, means we know all there is to know about them – it can even get to the stage where it takes over your life, hearing a car going down the road, thinking ‘that gearbox hasn’t got long left…’

Putting that expertise to good use, here are a few common signs to look out for, indicators that your gearbox might be failing or in danger of failing.


Strange noises

The saying in films is to beware of things that go bump in the night, in a car it might be to beware of things that go bump in the engine.

A banging or clanking sound when the car moves into neutral can be an indicator that that there are loose gears or that the clutch is loose.

Whistling and clicking noises can suggest the gearbox bearings are worn and might require replacing. A more sudden, grinding sort of noise often an indicator of clutch wear or that synchronisers are damaged.

With an automatic transmission, a buzzing, humming noise can be a clear indication that the torque converter has a problem.

As you would expect, it is often the case that the louder, more jarring the noise, the more serious the problem.


Warning Lights

An obvious one – dashboard lights exist for a reason, so when you see one illuminated don’t ignore it!

The transmission temperature light is one to watch out for, an issue here could mean coolant levels are not sufficiently topped up, similarly transmission levels could be a problem.

Many drivers are guilty of not actually knowing what the lights relate to – it is worth taking five minutes at some stage to read that part of the manual, get a clear understanding of what each light means.


Issues with Fluid Levels

Leaks can be a common problem, but they are easy to check for. Opening the bonnet might be enough to show that fluid has visibly leaked, while putting old paper or cloths under the car and leaving will show if any fluid leaks over time (over night for example).

And transmission fluid, possibly red in colour, can be a sign of problems relating to the transmission – this fluid also has a slightly sweet smell.

Transmission fluid levels should stay constant and so any signs of this fluid under the car will be indicative of a leak.

If fluid levels are lower than expected, there is likely to a problem with a leaking system – this can have many causes which vary in severity. Common issues include clogged filter, worn seals a damaged bell housing, problems with engine and transmission mounts and more besides.

Although you can perhaps identify that there is a leak, identifying the precise cause and fixing is likely to require professional help.


Slow Response

If engagement seems delayed, the car taking time before responding to gear changes, the biting point not seeming to lead to immediate response then this can be a sign that parts are on their way out.

This problem can get steadily worse, to the point that there is a noticeable lag between gear change and any response from the car and as such is worth having checked out as a priority.


Changed Driving Experience

If your car feels different to drive then this is a clear sign that something is not quite right. Does acceleration seem more sluggish? There might appear to a lack of power.

A more obvious sign can be the gear changing for no reason, or dropping into neutral.

As the driver, you are likely to have been in control of your vehicle for many thousands of miles, you will have an innate sense of what is normal behaviour for your car, it might even have little quirks you are well used to.

However, things that are different are a concern. The noise that’s new, the slow response or the difficultly making gear shifts.


The Sweet Smell of Failure

If there is a smell best described as burning but with a sweet note (at the risk of sounding like a bad wine taster), then your transmission fluid might be in need of a change.

However, if upon checking the fluid this too has a burnt smell then it could be a sign that the gearbox itself is in need or repair or replacement.

Timely action could be essential here – speedy resolution a lot cheaper than a major gearbox failure that then also damages other parts of the engine.


About North West Transmissions

A family-run business serving there north west of England, we have a truly superb reputation, this shown by our 4.9 out of 5 average rating from dozens of reviews on Google.

All reconditioned gearboxes come with guarantees for 12 months or 12,000 miles while reconditioned automatic units come with a re-manufactured torque converter that has a lifetime guarantee.

Our technicians are all highly skilled with vast experience in reconditioning and repairing all units – importantly their efficiency helps cut down the price of repairs and so too the cost.

Major recalls are rare, but gearbox problems are all-too common. If you find yourself in need of a repair or reconditioned unit, that often being the more economical option in the long term, please contact us.

Call us on 0151 933 0257 or use our Contact Form.