Having a slipping transmission can be a frustrating thing. You’ve been driving your car for a while now and you’ve come to expect it to shift a certain way. It’s comfortable and you’re a better driver because you can predict when your car will shift and how it will feel. It’s a very strange feeling when you go to pass someone on the freeway or take off from a stop light and when your car shifts you feel your engine rev up but your vehicle doesn’t accelerate like it usually does. This can be caused by a slipping transmission.
Automatic transmissions work very differently than manual transmissions and not just because they are automatic, but because they use an entirely different system to create different gear ratios. To help understand why your transmission might be slipping, we would recommend looking through Jalopnik’s in-depth article about automatic transmissions specifically, the section on planetary gear sets.
What causes transmission slipping?
This planetary gear set is the reason why automatic transmissions can start slipping. The design of the gear set requires multiple clutches and bands to effect gear changes. The bands in an automatic transmission are the usual culprit when it comes to slipping as a worn band can allow parts of the transmission to continue to rotate for a few seconds after the gear change. This will allow the gear change to feel sloppy, your engine to rev up during a gear change and the feeling of slipping as your car loses speed.
Besides a worn band, there are some other reasons your transmission might start slipping. The gear changes in a computer transmission are actuated by shift solenoids to allow transmission fluid to pressurize different components in your transmission causing things to move and the clutches and bands to disengage. Besides the clutches or bands being worn out, there could be a problem with the solenoid or a low or high pressure in the system causing things to shift strangely.
The trouble with having a slipping transmission in your car is that it’s very difficult to tell what is going on inside without special tools or without tearing the transmission apart to look for worn or damaged components. Computer controlled transmissions have error codes just like your engine does when the check engine light is on, but you often need specialized equipment to connect to the transmission to read the error codes or check sensor data to try and diagnose the problem.
As the owner of a vehicle, the only thing you can do to diagnose why you have a slipping transmission is to check the transmission fluid level and condition.
How to check your transmission fluid level?
On many vehicles, you can check your transmission fluid level through a dipstick in your engine bay. Your transmission dipstick will look a lot like your oil dipstick but should be marked as “TRANS” or be red in color. The transmission dipstick is often at the rear of the engine bay near the firewall. The transmission fluid level should be checked on level ground with the engine running and warm. When you pull out the dipstick, check the fluid condition. What color is it? What color should it be? You can use a white cloth to clean the dipstick to help you get a better idea of the color. You can also hold the fluid up to a bright light and look for suspended particles and metal shavings in your transmission which would indicate internal transmission damage and might help point you in the direction of a rebuild.
Can low transmission fluid level cause my transition to slip?
In short, yes. You should also check the transmission level as a low fluid level can cause low pressures in your transmission leading to a slipping transmission. If you discover your transmission fluid is low you should top it off with the manufacturer’s recommended type of transmission fluid. Also, the only way your transmission fluid level is low is due to a leak which should be fixed before you lose any more transmission fluid. You can quickly and easily seal any transmission fluid leak by adding BlueDevil Transmission Sealer to your transmission Fluid. BlueDevil Transmission Sealer will quickly and permanently seal the leaks in your transmission by restoring the seals and gaskets to their original condition.
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transmission_slipping.jpg – By Loraks – Licensed by Getty Images – Original Link