Auto Repair

Is Your Car’s Transmission Overheating?

Like a multi-speed bicycle, your car or truck’s transmission gets the right amount of power going to its wheels according to the speed you’re driving at. Unfortunately, like most complex components of a vehicle, the transmission can overheat, starting a spiral of escalating troubles if left unchecked.

What Should You Do if You Suspect Overheating?

If you feel your transmission is overheating, you should act quickly. A hot transmission can quickly escalate to full transmission failure. While transmission bills are never fun, it’s a better deal to repair a transmission than to completely replace one.

  • Try to avoid driving if you suspect that your transmission is overheating.
  • If on the road, pull over immediately and wait for it to cool.
  • If a mechanic is nearby, you might be able to make the quick trip there.
  • Make sure you drive slowly if you have to drive at all.
  • The best practice is to have your vehicle towed to a repair shop.

Remember not to wait, or you could find yourself with a completely shot transmission.

What Are the Signs That Your Transmission Is Overheating?

There are four major signs that can signal a problem with the transmission. Some of them can be easy to overlook, so make sure you pay attention to how your vehicle is running. Small things that are amiss can quickly catapult into a costly repair.

1. Difficulty Shifting Gears

If you’re having trouble shifting gears, this is a sign that something is wrong with the transmission. Overheating can cause slipping or delays when changing gears, so be on the lookout. This can also signal that the transmission is failing, which can be a dangerous situation if it occurs while driving and also leads to a major repair bill.

2. Your Transmission Fluid is Leaking

If you notice any fluid leaks, you have a problem. Transmission fluid is red, so any red drops on the garage floor or parking lot can signal a problem with the transmission. Dirty transmission fluid is darker, but some dirt will be inevitable.

The transmission fluid lubricates the moving components of the transmission, so losing it leads to the parts grinding. The wear and tear lead to overheating and failure, so keeping tabs on this fluid is important.

3. Burning Smell

You shouldn’t ever smell burning coming from your automobile. It can point to several things, including the belts, but if you smell it while driving or just after parking, the transmission could be the source. When your transmission overheats, it burns the fluid. This can leave your transmission lacking the fluid it needs to stay lubricated.

4. The Engine is Hot

The engine and transmission work together, both of them moderated by your vehicle’s cooling system. If the engine temperature is running hotter than normal, then it’s likely your transmission’s temperature is, too.

What Causes Your Transmission to Overheat

Many things can cause your car or truck’s transmission to overheat, making maintenance an important part of prevention. Some of them are:

  • Hot weather
  • Heavy hauling
  • Stop-and-go traffic
  • Leaks
  • Defective solenoid

One of the most important things you can keep your eye out for is fluid leaks. When the transmission fluid leaks or becomes dirty, the moving parts of the transmission will grind, causing overheating and failure. Your transmission fluid should therefore be checked regularly by either a mechanic during routine maintenance (you’re keeping up with that, right?) or by using a dipstick at home.

Maintenance is Important

Remember to bring your vehicle to a mechanic for regular maintenance. Also, don’t overlook certain problems or put them off for too long, or the bill could be more substantial later.

Photo by Aleksandr Potashev from Getty Images via Canva Pro