8 Telltale Signs That Your Transmission Is Going Out

Call us now (855) 547-1550
or email us to support@junkcarsus.com

Receive a guaranteed highest price quote for your junk car from the best junk car buyer by filling out the form online.

We’re open Mon-Fri: 8 am - 8 pm, Sat: 8 am - 3 pm
Edgar Moulton.


Edgar Moulton. Car Expert

If you have an older car, you may experience any number of transmission problems that range from a simple and cheap repair all the way up to requiring an expensive replacement. Read on to discover what some transmission problems are and how to decide if it’s worth fixing or junking.

Common Symptoms of a Bad Transmission

Early detection of transmission problems can save you hundreds of dollars and keep your vehicle from suffering further, more severe damage. This is why it's critical to understand the warning signs of transmission trouble and what to do if you notice any of them. Below is a list of reliable ways to detect if your vehicle's transmission has problems or is soon to fail:

  • Strange noises;
  • Weird smells;
  • Difficulty getting it into gear;
  • Leaking fluids;
  • Car jolting during shifts;
  • Gears are slipping;
  • Shifting is delayed;
  • Lit-up Check Engine light on your dashboard.

Sign #1 Strange noises

You know what your car sounds like when it’s running well, so if you begin hearing new noises, it could be one of many warning signs your transmission is going out. A faulty transmission may make buzzing, humming, clunking, or whirring noises while driving or in park or neutral. When you shift from park to drive, if there’s a noise (or a jolt in the car) that you haven’t heard before, it may be a sign your automatic transmission is going out. 

If you begin to hear strange noises coming from your engine/transmission area, you don’t want to ignore these. They will only get worse if you continue to drive your car. 

Sign #2 Weird Smells 

All cars have smells — it might be gasoline, exhaust fumes, or the rubber from the tires. But if there’s an unusual one — like the smell of burning or friction — it’s definitely worth getting looked at. 

If you smell a faint smell of burning, it may be your clutch and is one of a few signs your manual transmission is going out. A friction or burning smell may indicate that your transmission fluid is low and maybe causing excess friction in the transmission. Whatever the cause is, you won’t know until you get it checked out, and if you ignore it, it’s almost certain to cause a bigger issue down the road. 

Sign #3 Difficulty getting it into gear

Call us now (855) 547-1550
or email us to support@junkcarsus.com

Receive a guaranteed highest price quote for your junk car from the best junk car buyer by filling out the form online.

We’re open Mon-Fri: 8 am - 8 pm, Sat: 8 am - 3 pm

If you have issues changing from park to drive (or reverse), that’s one of the telltale signs and symptoms your transmission is going out. This could be something as simple as low transmission fluid, or it could mean something as serious as a damaged clutch. If, when you shift from park into drive, you hear a noise (like grinding or a loud clunk), it means your transmission is having trouble getting into gear. If you don’t get it fixed, it will eventually stop going into drive altogether — not to mention, using a clearly damaged transmission will only cause more damage with more usage. 

Sign #4 Leaking fluids

Leaking transmission fluid is one of the more common signs that your transmission is going out. If your transmission is leaking fluid, it means it will need to be resealed to stop the leak. Of course, in a pinch, you can just refill it, but that won’t fix the leak, and you will need to continue refilling it over and over. The other issue is that in-between refills, your transmission will be low on fluid which greatly increases wear and tear. Transmission fluid is red and smells almost sweet. If you have any drops (or a puddle) of this on the ground where you usually park your car, you likely have a transmission fluid leak. 

Sign #5 Car jolting during shifts

This is also referred to as the car “shaking,” as you will literally feel the car jolt or shake forward and back with each gear shift. A well-functioning transmission (particularly a CVT) will shift smoothly and efficiently without any vibration. If each time your car shifts, you feel the car jolt forward or back, there’s something wrong with your transmission. It could be that you have low transmission fluid, but it could be something bigger, and it’s definitely worth getting checked out because it is one of the signs your transmission is going out.

Sign #6 Gears are slipping

If you are just driving along and your car slips out of gear, not only is it a sign your transmission is giving out, it can be incredibly dangerous. If you drive a manual transmission car, you give the transmission an input to change each time you hit the clutch and shift. In an automatic car, the car's computer senses the RPM range and gear number and will select the appropriate gear for you. But if your transmission doesn’t receive input to change, and yet it still does, that’s a very serious issue. So if you are driving along and your car slips out of gear (or into a lower or higher one), it’s a sign you’ll want to get the transmission checked out immediately. 

Sign #7 Shifting is delayed 

On the other side of slipping gears, if your car is taking a long time to shift to the appropriate gear (in an automatic car), it’s a sign your transmission is having issues. Like many other transmission ailments, it could be a symptom of low transmission fluid or something more serious like worn-out gears, a burned-out clutch, or a bad torque converter. This is a common sign your transmission is on its way to failing, and you will want to get it checked out before anything gets worse.

Sign #8 Lit-up Check Engine light on your dashboard

Most of the signs we mentioned above will be somewhat obvious once they start occurring, but cars built in the last 25 or so years (i.e., not classic cars) come with a check engine light. This is attached to a sophisticated computer with sensors all over the car to monitor all the systems and make sure everything is working correctly. One of these sensors is a vibration sensor mounted near the transmission that will sense when something has gone wrong, even when you don’t notice it yourself. If something is off, the check engine light will come on, signaling you to go to a mechanic and get it checked out. You will want to have your car looked at if your check engine light comes on because it knows something you don’t. It may be giving you a heads up about a low cost repair now that will eventually turn into a much bigger and much more costly repair down the road, even if it’s not your transmission.

Consider Selling Your Car with a Bad Transmission to a Junk Car Buyer 

If you notice any of the above symptoms, you may find yourself googling “How to tell if your transmission is going out?” And then, depending on your answer, you might wonder about the cost of transmission repairs. For an average vehicle, you might expect to pay between $300 and $1500 for transmission repairs. For a transmission replacement, however, you can expect to pay between $1800 and $3400. If your transmission is failing and your car isn’t even worth the cost of repairs, you’ll have to decide what to do with your car.

That’s where JunkCarsUS comes in! We have been offering cash for junk cars all across the USA for 12 years and have become the number one junk car buyer in your area for a good reason. Over the years, we have come up with a simple three-step process for turning your junk car into cash without any hassle.

  1. Contact us! We can’t buy your car unless you tell us you want to sell it. So reach out to us at (855) 547-1550 or fill out an online application to let us know you have a junk car to get rid of. After we get a little information from you — the year, the make, the model, the mileage, and the condition of your car, we’ll give you a cash offer right on the spot. (Or in 90 seconds if you go to our scrap car value calculator). 
  2. Accept our offer! Once you get our cash offer, we will never go back on it. We offer the highest price guarantee for any junk car service in your area. Once you accept, tell our team member the location of the car and the most convenient time to pick it up, and we’ll be there. We even offer same-day services! And arrange for you…
  3. FREE towing! As we said, what we offer is what you get in your pocket. There are no hidden charges or fees when you work with JunkCarsUS, and that includes free towing. One of our trusted tow truck drivers will arrive at your location with cash in hand and paperwork all filled out and ready for you to sign before safely towing it away, leaving you with nothing but cold hard cash in your hand.

It really is as easy as that. Like we mentioned, our team has been doing this so long that we’re experts at even the paperwork part of getting rid of a junk car, which means we’ll have it all taken care of for you. It really is as easy as making a call, accepting the offer, and setting up a time to get your junk car out of your hair. So contact us at (855) 547-1550 or fill out an online application and start the process of getting rid of your broken transmission car! 


Will your car notify you when the transmission is going out?

It’s very likely that your car will give you some sort of warning that your transmission is failing. It could be something as obvious as loud noises happening when you shift it into gear, or it could be something small that signaled your check engine light to come on. Either way, your car is likely to give you a warning before a major transmission problem occurs, so it’s best not to ignore any signs.

What does it sound like if your transmission is going out?

You will hear any number of noises coming from the transmission area as it begins to fail. You may hear grinding as the car switches gears, or you may hear vibrations while you’re idling. Pay attention to any buzzing, humming, clunking, or whirring noises coming from your car.

Does mileage matter when the transmission is going out?

Mileage absolutely matters when it comes to the time the transmission will fail. As a general rule, the greater the mileage, the greater the wear and tear. The more wear and tear, the larger the chance that the transmission will eventually fail. However, the quality of maintenance you provide your car’s transmission will significantly affect how long your transmission lasts, so be sure to get problems fixed while they’re still small. Your transmission will last much longer this way.

How do you know if your transmission is going out?

If you have one (or more!) of the above symptoms, it’s likely your transmission telling you it needs some attention. If the car is making sounds and smells or not driving as smoothly as it should, it may be pointing to a faulty transmission that’s on its way out.

Edgar Moulton.


Edgar Moulton. Car Expert

Rate this article:

4.73 out of 5 based on 9 votes

Write us

Contact Us

Feel free to contact us for any business, media, or personal inquiries:

Book Online

Please, submit your quote request form and we will get back to you in a minutes with our guaranted cash offer!

Enter your phone number *
Enter your email
City *
Zip code
Condition Of The Vehicle

We never share your information or spam you with our own emails or promos!