What Causes a Transmission to Slip?

Transmission Cross Section Close-Up

Your internal combustion vehicle’s transmission is a complex device filled with gears that need precise movements to work properly. It transfers power from the pistons to the drivetrain, which turns the wheels and moves your vehicle forward. When something goes awry with the transmission, it can be an expensive repair to pay for.



One of the first signs of something that could turn into a major problem is transmission slipping. While transmission slipping isn’t necessarily a sign of a failing transmission, sometimes it just means you need to flush and replace your transmission fluid to keep it running properly.

Your car’s transmission is a complex machine as well as one of the most important. Accurately identifying the cause of transmission slipping represents one way to keep your car running at its best.

See the causes of transmission slipping, as well as indicators of a transmission problem with our guide from Five Star Ford Warner Robins.

Transmission Slipping Signs

You’ll need to know transmission slipping signs that can appear when you’re driving on Macon roads, or even as your engine idles. Transmission slipping usually just means you need to switch your old transmission fluid with a new batch.

Pay attention to the following red flags for a slipping transmission:

  • Your internal combustion engine chugs or revs
  • You notice weak or slow acceleration
  • Difficulty shifting gears
  • Strange noises like grinding or whining
  • Strange burning smell
  • Check engine light comes on and stays on

If the transmission is slipping, your vehicle may feel slow to respond when you hit the accelerator. In fact, the car may not respond at all when you try to speed up. This could present problems on the highway if you’re trying to pass someone. As gears change, you might hear strange noises. The gears may also change without warning. If any gear slips without warning, schedule a service visitas soon as possible.

What Causes a Transmission to Slip?

To find out what causes a transmission to slip, we’ve covered five main issues to be aware of:

  • Transmission Fluid Needs to Be Changed: Your transmission needs transmission fluid, which is a red-colored hydraulic fluid, to operate at its best because it prevents friction in the transmission. So, if your transmission is sluggish, the fluid is the first component you’ll want to check. Fluid that’s dark red and opaque might need to be changed for your transmission to work properly. Fresh transmission fluid is red and translucent.
  • Defective Solenoid: The transmission solenoid is an electromagnetic component that controls the transmission fluid’s flow throughout the device. If the solenoid is defective, the transmission may not be receiving enough fluid. Fixing the solenoid will make things work better.
  • Damaged Transmission Bands: Transmission bands link the gears together. If the bands wear out, it may be due to not enough transmission fluid. In any case, the bands will need to be replaced when this happens. However, maintaining the right transmission fluid levels and cleanliness can prevent the brands from getting damaged in the first place. That’s why you need to check the transmission fluid first and foremost when you detect transmission slippage.
  • Clutch Issues in a Manual Transmission: Like transmission bands, the clutch relies on fresh transmission fluid to operate properly. Automatic transmissions have a torque converter instead of a main clutch. But if you have a manual transmission, you’ll want to keep an eye on the clutch.
  • Worn Gears: Transmissions don’t last forever. Gears can wear out over time just because they have many moving parts. Transmission fluid is highly important to prolong the life of the gears, and we can’t stress enough about checking the transmission fluid and replacing it within the right interval.
  • Torque Converter Problems: The torque converter changes engine power into torque used by the transmission. In addition to slipping, other issues with the torque converter can include burning, smoking, gears jumping, failing to go into gear, or a complete blowout.

Choose Five Star Ford Warner Robins for Expert Transmission Service

Now that you know what causes a transmission to slip, do you think you need to bring your vehicle in for service? Don’t hesitate to contact us or call 833-576-4280 for professional auto service! A simple transmission fix can turn into an expensive, major problem if you let it go too long without fixing it.

Meanwhile, browse our service specials before scheduling service with us to save money on your next vehicle maintenance. We even have a mobile service if you need minor maintenance, and you can’t come to us!


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