Your transmission fluid is a small but integral part of your vehicle's operation. Transmission fluid works to lubricate the moving parts of your transmission to make sure that gear changes can happen quickly and efficiently. For that reason, dirty or low levels of fluid can cause a whole host of complications not only to your transmission but to the operation of your engine and the overall performance of your vehicle as well.
Understanding some warning signs associated with inadequate levels of fluid, or fluid that simply has become too dirty to do its job, can help you figure out when you should have a mechanic flush and replace your transmission fluid.
1. Burning Smell
One of the clearest indications that your transmission is no longer properly lubricated is if you notice a strong smell of burning while driving. This points to the moving parts of your transmission creating too much friction between each other, which is causing them to overheat and is actually burning the fluid. This can cause all sorts of additional wear and damage to other components under the hood, so it's a good call to pull over straight away and head over to a mechanic at a lower speed once everything's had a chance to cool down.
2. Trouble Changing Gears
Another sign that your transmission fluid may be overdue for replacement is if you notice that you are having significant difficulties switching into another gear. Hard shifts consist of significant amounts of lag between accelerating and your vehicle switching gears, as well as odd noises coming from under the hood.
An improperly lubricated transmission can create a wide range of odd noises, including clunking and grinding, and in severe cases, high-pitched squealing, due to the increased amount of friction between the moving parts of your transmission. You may also notice a delay from when you accelerate or slow down and the corresponding shift from your transmission.
3. Surging and Slipping
If you are suffering from transmission fluid that is contaminated with dirt and other debris, you may notice that your vehicle suddenly surges when it changes gears, sending your vehicle rocketing forward with little warning. This is a serious safety concern, as it reduces your ability to handle your vehicle on the road and increases the risk of an accident. Further, the opposite effect can also occur, causing your vehicle to suddenly slip out of gear and thus slow down, representing a hazard to anyone who is driving behind you.
For more information, contact your local auto repair service.