How to Fix a Hard Shifting Automatic Transmission

transmission slipping

Automatic transmissions are built to make driving a lot easier. However, when they aren’t working properly, automatic transmissions can be extremely frustrating. A slipping transmission is undeniably a nuisance, but it can also lead to further complications if left untreated. Luckily, it’s also a relatively easy fix. If you feel like your car jerks or you hear a clunking sound when you’re shifting gears, there are a few simple ways to get things back in working order. Continue reading below to find out how to deal with your hard shifting automatic transmission and stop it from happening in the future! If you’re looking for a quick solution to any problem you have when shifting gears, try BlueDevil Transmission Sealer. Our expertly crafted solution is designed to restore seals and gaskets to their factory condition without putting your car in the shop! 

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Fixing a Hard Shifting Transmission

The Symptoms

If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, it might be worth taking a look at your transmission:

  • Dark or discolored fluid
  • Strange Noises
  • Erratic shifting or hard to shift gears
  • Low fluid level

Dark Fluid

Transmission fluid, like your engine oil, gets dirty over time from wear and foreign matter. If your transmission fluid is getting dark more quickly than usual it could indicate that there is an abnormal amount of wear happening in your transmission. This accelerated erosion could be due to a bearing going bad or a clutch/band on it’s last leg  If you find dark fluid, consider changing your transmission fluid more often than your owner’s manual recommends.

Strange Noises

The noisiest part of your transmission is actually the fluid pump. The fluid pump is what creates the high pressures in your transmission that affects the shifts can get noisy much like your power steering pump if fluid gets low or dirty.  The pump can also get noisy if the pump is failing or if there is a clog somewhere in the system causing unusually high pressures. If you’ve got a noisy pump, try changing the fluid and listen for the sounds to change.  Another noise to listen for is a bad bearing.  Much like a bad wheel bearing, bad transmission bearings can cause humming and vibrations that change with vehicle speed or gear changes.

Transmission Jerks When Shifting

If your vehicle has a hard time shifting gears, jerks when shifting, or otherwise shifts in ways you don’t expect (especially from first to second or second to third), it could indicate something is either wearing out or starting to fail. In today’s computer-controlled transmissions, an erratic shift could also be due to a bad sensor or shift solenoid. These types of problems can often be checked using a transmission or factory scan tool that can check pressures and solenoid operation when plugged into your car..

Why Your Transmission Is Hard Shifting and What to Do

Hard shifting is a common problem with automatic transmissions. There could be a few different causes at the root of the issue, however. Each requires slightly different solutions. 

  • A Worn-Out Transmission
  • Old/Wrong Transmission Fluid
  • Low Fluid Levels
  • Faulty Torque Converter 

Your Transmission Is Worn-Out

Worst case scenario, your transmission may simply be worn out. The bands and clutches that cause gear changes wear down over time. As a result, their surfaces become smooth and no longer hold things together. Unfortunately, you’ll have to remove your transmission to test this. At that point, you might as well replace your transmission. 

Transmission repairs can be very costly. Be sure to completely diagnose the symptoms of your problem before you take your car in for a transmission service. It’s also always useful to get a second opinion before you get major work done. 

Old Transmission Fluid

Another thing that may cause a hard shifting automatic transmission is old, incorrect, or worn out transmission fluid. The materials used to build a transmission are chosen due to the way they interact with the transmission fluid. The wrong materials and fluids together will cause too much friction, resulting in hard shifts. It could also cause low friction and sloppy shifts.

Over time your transmission fluid will lose some of its lubrication and friction modifying properties. As these properties change, so will the shifting in your transmission. Lead to the problem you’re having.

Low Fluid Levels

Lastly, a low transmission fluid level might be the cause of your hard shifting automatic transmission. Besides lubricating things, the fluid in your transmission provides hydraulic pressure to move the clutches and bands responsible for facilitating shifts. If you’ve got a low fluid level due to a leak, it can create a low pressure situation and lead to shifting problems.

If you find a low fluid level in your transmission make sure to top it off with the manufacturer’s recommended type of transmission fluid, or you could end up right where you started. Also, adding BlueDevil Transmission Sealer with your fluid will restore the seals and gaskets in your transmission to stop any leaks and prevent low transmission fluid levels from occurring again.

Faulty Torque Converter

A torque converter may also be the root problem for why your car is slipping. This part connects the car’s engine to the transmission serving the same purpose as a clutch in a manual transmission car. You may be having torque converter issues if your car’s transmission begins to slip, which means that the fluid is not being managed correctly. A bad torque converter can cause a similar feeling as slipping gears.

Fix Your Hard Shifting Automatic Transmission With BlueDevil Transmission Sealer

If you notice slipping when you are shifting gears, it may not always require expensive maintenance. BlueDevil Transmission Sealer is designed to restore small cracks and leaks in your transmission with almost no effort from you. All you have to do is add our sealer to your transmission fluid, and your car will be back to its old self without ever seeing time in the shop. 

Seal Your Transmission!

BlueDevil Transmission Sealer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pictures Provided By:

transmission_slipping.jpg – By Loraks – Licensed by Getty Images – Original Link

19 responses to “How to Fix a Hard Shifting Automatic Transmission

  1. A bit doubtful at first,but used blue devil trans fix in my 87 vw vanagon auto trans and then drove it 7 yrs with no problem(warm up required of course).I’m a believer now.

  2. 19995 Mercedes Benz SL500, car must run about a 1/4 mile to warm up before shifting into 2nd gear. The transmission then stall’s between 1st and 2 gear, what’s the likely problem?

    1. Fitzpatrick-

      Thanks for your question about your ’95 Mercedes. With any transmission problem, the first thing to do is make sure you have been keeping up with changing your transmission fluid and filter. If it has been more than a year since you have changed those, try that first and see if it fixes your problem. When refilling the transmission fluid you should make sure it is filled to the proper level.

      Thank You!

      -BDP

      1. So if your experiencing slipping all of a sudden, its a good idea to try to change filter and fluid to see if that does anything?

        1. Matt-

          Yes, it would be wise to change the transmission fluid and filter just in case you are experiencing the symptoms from dirty or old fluid.

          Thank You!

          -BDP

  3. Thanks for sharing this advice on getting your car’s transmission problems fixed. I had no idea that a slipping transmission occurs when the gears become too worn. However, that could explain why my car has a little trouble decelerating. It feels like my car takes an extra moment to shift into the right gear. Either way, I should probably have my car inspected before I go and buy a new part immediately.

  4. I have a 2004 chevy impala ss with a 3.8 super charge motor…. my question is when I first start driving my car it shifts fine but after warming up my car does not wanna shift and my rpm just go higher while I’m driving…. it accelerates but it doesn’t want to kick in gear so the rpm can go down… I checked my fluid and it’s reading fine on the dip stick…. any suggestions would really help if I can find a cheap way to fix this…. thanks

    1. Christopher,

      Thanks for your question about your 2004 Chevy Impala. It sounds like your transmission is having trouble building enough line pressure to shift once it gets warm. You can check this if you have a performance shift option. If shifts work better with that performance shift option switched on then this may be the case for you. This may be due to a clog somewhere in your system so you could try having your transmission flushed and the filter changed to try and see if that helps.

      If that doesn’t help then you may have to go as far as changing one or more of the shift solenoids. Getting to these in your transmission can be quite the job so usually a whole “valve kit” will be installed replacing all the solenoids while you’re in there.

  5. My 1999 Ford exploer takes about 15 min in drive before it will go into gear with a jerk. I have to rev to get it into gear. Can I do anything other then buying new tranny I can’t afford. Out of work.

    1. Penny,

      Thanks for your question about your 99 Explorer! Unfortunately, when it comes to automatic transmissions, there isn’t much you can do besides checking the fluid to make sure it is at the proper level and is clean and bright. On your Explorer, that dipstick is at the back on the engine bay on the passenger side with a black handle. You need to check the level while your truck is running and in park. If you find a low fluid level, use BlueDevil Transmission Sealer (available here: http://store.gobdp.com/transmission-sealer-00236/) to stop the leak. Then add the correct type of automatic transmission fluid to the proper level and you should be back on the road!

      If your fluid level is good and the fluid is red and bright then your problem probably runs deeper in your transmission and your only option would be to take it to a transmission specialist.

  6. Hi there,
    I recently change my transmission fluid and filter 3days ago. Before the change there was an issue on shifting the car is jerking, after I change the fluids the jerking issue but now its slipping when changing from the 3rd to 4th gear which I’m not experiencing before. Any idea what is the issue and how van I fix it. My car is corolla 2010 automatic trans.
    Thanks and regards.

  7. A slipping transmission can be dangerous if you try to shift gears and your car doesn’t respond how you expect. My car is an automatic, so I didn’t even know it could get a problem like this. I’ll have to tell my husband to look for discount transmission parts so we can fix it soon.

  8. I have a 2002 chevy cavalier with an automatic transmission. When I pull off at a stop light the transmission starts sticking then the rpm goes high. Then it stalls the car. I start the car back up and then it works fine. It does this randomly. Please help

    1. Sid-

      Thank you for your question about your Cavalier. Sabrina-

      The best place to start would be to change your transmission fluid and filter and then double check to make sure the fluid level is correct. If you are still experiencing the hard shift and stalling after changing the fluid and filter then you may want to have your Chevy looked at by a transmission specialist.

      Thanks!

      -BDP

  9. Hey hope all is well. I have a 2005 Chevy Silverado 5.3L and I am having transmission problem back in march I had my transmission rebuild and in July I had my transmission line came lose and lost fluid. Now when I was coming from work yesterday the transmission starting acting up whenerver I get to 40 or 50 mile per hour it start rev up so I pull on the side on the road check the fluid and it was empty. I put a quart of fluid in the truck got up this morning and checked it still full of fluid and still doing the same thing. Please help me out.

    1. Henry,

      Thanks for your question about your Chevy Silverado. If your transmission is full of clean fluid and is still slipping at 40 or 50 mpg, then it is most likely that you have some sort of internal damage in your transmission, possibly from running low on fluid. Without pulling the transmission apart, it can be hard to tell the extent of the damage or wear so you may consider bringing your track back to the shop that originally rebuilt it to see if they’ll take a look under warranty for their rebuild.

      Thanks again for your question,
      -BD Auto Pro

  10. Hi I have a 2001 Pontiac grandprix and I recently just started having problems with my transmission when I get in my car I can go into reverse but my car Won’t shift into drive I have to put it down to the lower gears to get it to go I can’t afford a new tranny so if you could help me that would be nice

    1. Dante,

      Thanks for your question about your Grand Prix. Unfortunately with automatic transmissions, all you can do is check the transmission fluid color and level. If the fluid is clean and bright and at the proper level you most likely have a bigger issue with your transmission and will need a GM dealer or a transmission specialist take a look at it.

      Thanks again for your question!
      -BD Auto Pro

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