Signs Your Transmission May Be Going Bad

If you’re experiencing the early warning signs of transmission failure, you may be in for some hefty transmission repair costs. Find out what to watch out for, and what you could expect to pay.

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Of all vehicle components, the transmission is one of the most important. Without this part, your car would not be able to move even if your engine was in perfect condition.

Keep reading below to learn more about your car’s transmission, the warning signs of a damaged transmission, and the cost of transmission repair.

What Does Your Transmission Do?

A transmission is responsible for transferring engine power to the wheels. A complex system of gears and pulleys converts and directs energy to make sure that you are driving at the right speed.

In general, a transmission uses gear ratios to determine how much power the wheels need. Each ratio corresponds to a different speed and load combination and these ratios change during your drive as needed.

There are two primary types of transmission: manual and automatic.

Under automatic transmissions, you can also have a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) and Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT). While they have different mechanisms for adjusting your speed, they all perform the same function.

With an automatic transmission, you don’t have to worry about changing gears or thinking about ratios: your car does this automatically.

With a manual transmission, on the other hand, you need to switch gears yourself by using a clutch.

How Long Should A Transmission Last?


Transmissions are built to last. While many car parts begin needing repairs around the 80,000 to 100,000-mile mark, transmissions do not.

They are designed to last more than 120,000 miles before wearing out. With regular maintenance and care, your transmission could last up to 300,000 miles.

However, certain factors can cause your transmission to wear out faster including:

  • Aggressive driving

  • Using the wrong fluids

  • Overheating

  • Shifting gears while moving

Collisions and poor maintenance can also cause premature damage to your transmission, requiring repair as soon as possible.

What Are The Signs Of Transmission Failure?

Warning signs of transmission damage or failure include:

  • Slipping gears: When your vehicle switches gear when a gear switch is not necessary, or the gear slips, then there may be an issue with your transmission.

  • Fluid leaks: Your transmission might act up if you have a transmission fluid leak. This liquid has a bright color and smells sweet. A burnt smell can indicate bad transmission fluid as well.

  • Grinding sounds: Hearing grinding sounds while driving and especially during gear shifts is a signal that your transmission needs an inspection.

  • Shaking: Shaking during gear changes is one clue that your transmission is going out.

  • Unresponsive gears: Your transmission can have an issue if your gears are not changing, especially when you’re slowing down or speeding up abruptly.

  • Noises when in neutral: Because your vehicle should be relatively quiet in neutral, unusual noises when you’re in neutral can signal a problem with your transmission.

For the most part, you’re supposed to have a smooth ride and your transmission is one of the key parts responsible for that. So, if your drive starts feeling rough, especially during gear changes, you might be looking at a failing transmission.

Transmission Repair Costs

The transmission is one of the most costly car repairs. Starting prices for transmissions are around $1,000. In many cases, you need to replace one or a few parts rather than the whole system.

Here’s what you can expect to pay for these various parts:

  • Fluid: $80 - $250

  • Solenoid shift: $150 - $400

  • Transmission linkage: $150 – $250

  • Reverse gear: $300 - $1,000

  • Torque converter: $300 - $1,300

What if you have to replace the entire transmission? You’ll be looking at a much bigger price tag. Here’s a breakdown of total replacement costs:

  • OEM transmission: $4,000 - $8,000+

  • Rebuilt transmission: $2,500 - $4,000

  • Used transmission: $2,500 - $4,000

Is It Worth Replacing A Transmission?

Blown engine

Deciding to replace a transmission is a personal financial decision. Usually, it’s not worth it to complete a repair or replacement if it costs more than the value of your car.

So, if your transmission replacement service costs $5,000, but your old, damaged car is only worth about $3,500, then you might want to consider other options.

Even if your car is worth more than your transmission repair, you might still want to consider selling it as the price of a transmission can easily be equal to a new car down payment.

Sell A Car With Transmission Failure

If you’ve realized that selling your car with a failed transmission is the best route for you, Junk Car Masters is here to help.

Our free service can help get your broken car off your lawn and put money in your pocket. Here’s how it works:

  1. Enter vehicle details into our calculator.

  2. Review our offer and accept.

  3. Schedule a pick-up truck to arrive in 24 to 48 hours.

  4. Collect your check!

When calculating your offer, we look at a variety of factors outside of your car’s year, make, model, and mileage. As a result, you get a great deal no matter the condition your car is in. Get your quote today!

What are the early signs of transmission problems?

When your transmission starts failing, you’ll notice signs like gear slipping, rough shifting, and strange noises like grinding or clunking. Depending on the severity of the issue, these signs might be intermittent or constant.

Either way, you can’t drive very long with a damaged transmission.

How much does it cost to replace a transmission?

Transmissions require costly repairs whether you need a few parts replaced or a full rebuild. Even replacing a few parts can leave you with a $3,000 bill—which is the same price as some used transmissions.

Depending on the type of car you have, you might have to spend upwards of $8,000 for the transmission and labor.

It’s a Quick and Easy Process

Step 1: Vehicle Details

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Step 2: Offer


Request your guaranteed offer from us online.

Step 3: Accept


Accept the offer if you’re happy with it.

Step 4: Get Paid

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