New Transmission in Miami, FL

Your car just hit 100,000 miles a few months ago, and you haven’t noticed anything wrong with it (knock on wood).

One morning, you start the car and shift into reverse. The car jumps and shakes, just slightly, and the rest of your work commute goes off without a hitch (knock on wood, again).

A few days later, your transmission slips when down-shifting at a highway exit. A bit worrisome, you think, but you don’t feel any other problems (knock on wood, yet again).

It’s a week before Christmas, and you’re heading out to get some last-minute shopping done. The car shakes when you shift into reverse. It jumps when you shift into drive. It stutters when you shift into any gear. Seems like knocking on wood didn’t help, and your transmission is shot.

If this situation rings true, or you’ve noticed any of these other 10 symptoms of transmission failure, your best bet is to get your car to a qualified auto service center near you.

10 Classic Signs & Causes of Transmission Failure

1. Transmission fluid is dark

Check your automatic transmission fluid (ATF). Is it pink? That’s probably a good sign. But if it appears dark brown or even black, it could mean it’s burnt, which is the opposite of a good sign. It’s time to bring your vehicle to a mechanic or car service center you trust for an inspection. They may simply be able to replace the transmission fluid, filter, and give your vehicle a Transmission Fix additive to help your engine run smoother.

If your ATF is very dark, however, and you’re noticing your gears slipping, it’s more likely that the damage has already been done to your gearbox or clutch. Your service technician should be able to provide you with more details after a thorough look under the hood.

2. Gears slipping

If your vehicle continues to slip out of gear randomly, it’s a good indication that the transmission will fail soon. This video explains how to tell if your transmission is slipping based on feel and sound (which also includes whining noises when accelerating).

Once gears begin slipping, it may be time for an overhaul, as fluid service only solves the problem if it was caused by low transmission fluid. It’s typically not advised to flush your transmission fluid unless absolutely necessary to remove contaminants, like water or chemicals.

3. Transmission fluid leaks

Sometimes your car can leak transmission fluid, which will cause your vehicle to slip gears. This isn’t due to a worn or dead transmission, but rather a low amount of fuel. Oil changes and fluid service usually solve this problem, as will reseal service to find any loose or bad pan gaskets, deteriorated cooler lines, or holes.

4. Slow down-shifting

Electrical issues can sometimes result in transmission issues that mimic gear slipping, especially when down-shifting at lower gears. Faulty shift solenoids and transmission control modules should be inspected before making the decision to replace your entire transmission or buy a new car. Replacing these can be a fraction of the cost of either alternative.

5. Hot climate

Hot, humid areas can cause transmissions to fail faster. That’s because transmission fluid, just like many other automotive fluids, can oxidize at high temperatures. Regular fluid changes and storing your vehicle out of the sun can minimize those risks. An auxiliary transmission cooler can also help, though always speak with your service technician to see if it’s advised.

6. Lots of towing

Like driving in a hotter region, towing excessively, especially in hilly or mountainous areas, can make short work of an automatic CVT.

7. Squealing or humming sound

Sounds like squealing or humming after start-up can sometimes be due to old transmission fluid. Clutch debris can clog other components, such as power steering pumps, and cause them to fail or work less efficiently. Seized pumps and belts notoriously cause those squealing sounds, but they aren’t usually the result of transmission failure. It's best to ask for a professional to check.

8. Burning smells

If your pump gets clogged, it won’t be able to circulate fluid to the rest of your engine and critical components. This will cause your transmission to overheat and start burning whatever ATF is in the reservoir. When this happens, you’ll smell it—trust us.

9. Delays going to first gear

A cold start can cause old transmissions to slip or be less responsive going into first gear. Many people will notice this type of issue when starting their car for work, which is why it’s sometimes called “morning sickness” in the mechanic world.

This is usually a result of a hardened, leaky piston seal that can’t compress the clutch fully. As pressure builds up when you change gears, that leak is sealed, which makes the problem go away. Of course, it hasn’t gone away; it’s just been masked. 

10. Hasn’t been serviced in ages

Whether you’ve been the only owner or you purchased it used, your vehicle should be serviced at regular intervals. Check your service record, if available, to see when the last transmission fluid change and maintenance was performed. Cross-reference those records with the recommended service interval in your owner’s manual. If you’re due, make an appointment ASAP.

MINI Mechanic in Miami, FL
If you’re noticing any of these signs of transmission failure, don’t attempt to change your own ATF! It’s risky since doing so can worsen your problems. Instead, schedule a service appointment at our Miami auto service center. We’ll identify the issue, give you a quote for repairs, and get you started on a vehicle maintenance program.

Contact Braman MINI of Miami at (786) 374-2201 to speak with a specialist.

Categories: Service, Parts