Why Do Transmissions Fail? (11 Reasons Why)

You’re probably familiar with your vehicle. Therefore, when it begins to act strangely, you pay attention. Are you hearing unusual noises or smelling something strange from your vehicle? Is it behaving differently on the road than usual?

The most crucial thing is correctly diagnosing the underlying cause of your car’s problem. So, let’s now discover more about transmission failure!

Why Do Transmissions Fail?

1. Clogged Transmission Filter

Transmission filters clean the transmission fluid while it passes through them.

Therefore, an obstructed or dirty transmission filter indicates significant internal troubles, as it restrains the movement of transmission fluid, causing excessive heat of transmission parts.

Also, transmission fluid containing the heavy clutch substance or fine metal shavings signifies that the internal components are damaged, which should be addressed as soon as possible.

2. Delayed Shifts

Suppose your vehicle’s transmission takes a long time to shift into gear.

In that case, you may have low transmission fluid because of a leak, contamination from a lack of maintenance, or even water leakage during off-road or swamp conditions.

Further, this is a severe problem because it can cause an overheating state that can harm internal transmission components.

Another possibility is that the computer will not enable the transmission to switch into higher gears due to an engine issue.

3. Transmission Slipping

Transmission failure can also be triggered by a shortage of transmission fluid, contamination from a failure to maintain or water seepage, or premature internal wear on transmission parts.

With that, a high-revving engine is usually a sign of damaged clutches or even other components within the transmission that are failing.

Read More:  Why Is Liberty Mutual So Expensive? (9 Reasons Why)

Therefore, you should learn more about the most common causes and symptoms of a slipping transmission.

4. Transmission Fluid Leakage

Transmission fluid is the transmission’s lifeblood.

That said, transmission fluid greases all your transmission’s moving parts and gives the hydraulic qualities that enable the transmission to function smoothly and efficiently.

In addition, transmission fluid aids in the removal of heat from the transmission, which helps to prevent overheating.

Therefore, any indication that the transmission fluid is relatively low to massive leak must be taken seriously and fixed as soon as possible.

Of course, low transmission fluid is the leading cause of transmission failure and can cause severe transmission destruction if not detected quickly.

So, proper fluid upkeep, utilizing appropriate fluid for your car, noticing any leakages under your vehicle, and getting the leak fixed will guarantee a reliable transmission for several miles.

5. Worn Out Clutch

A worn clutch indicates that your vehicle’s engine and transmission are no longer properly connected.

Also, it highlights all transmission components, which can result in the clutch and your engine overheating, grinding or slipping, and transmission malfunction and failure if forced shifts are used.

6. Damaged Bearing

Damaged Bearing

A buzzing, snapping, humming, or thundering noise within the transmission is usually the result of a defective bearing, planetary gear malfunction, or another internal issue.

In addition, a buzzing sound could be caused by a faulty inner plate, a faulty seal, or poor transmission fluid resulting from leakage.

7. Engine Lack Of Power

Suppose your vehicle has no or less power and your vehicle’s engine is running correctly.

Read More:  Hyundai Sonata Won't Start? (9 Reasons Why)

In that case, it may be a result of internal transmission troubles, dragging brakes caused by a brake hose or faulty caliper, or your vehicle’s computer limiting power to defend the engine.

So, to pinpoint the problem, get your car inspected for trouble codes.

8. Overloading Transmission

Transmission failure can occur due to transmission overload, which occurs whenever the transmission is pressured to shift gears too quickly.

For example, transmission overload could be triggered by sudden acceleration, driving up hills, or overtaking a complete vehicle with a significantly lighter load than usual.

Also, transmission overload is multiplied by the vehicle’s overall weight by ten.

So, for example, if your car weighs 4,000 pounds and you’re ramping up a 20% grade slope, transmission overload happens at 800 pounds.

Therefore, understanding your vehicle’s weight can help you prevent transmission overload.

9. Grinding Gears

Once your manual transmission starts to grind when shifting gears, it’s usually due to the clutch not able to release, damaged or broken shift synchronizer rings within the transmission, or shifter wear or changes issue.

Additionally, transmission oil or fluid that is poor, dirty, or incorrect can also contribute to this issue in manual transmissions.

10. Low Or High Grab Of Clutch Pedal

A very low clutch pedal usually indicates a problem with the connection or hydraulic system that controls the clutch.

Further, a simple modification or bleeding may be sufficient if there are no hydraulic leakages.

However, a clutch pedal that grabs very hard could result from an adjustment, or it could be a damaged pressure plate and clutch disc.

Read More:  Honda VTEC Solenoid Symptoms (9 Things To Be Aware Of)

11. Worn Out Gears

When you experience a “clunk” every time your transmission switches gear, it indicates that the gears and other parts within the transmission are starting to wear.

That said, transmission sounds can clearly show the necessity for an expensive repair or even a potentially harmful issue that might result in power and torque loss.

Further, it indicates that a component within your transmission is malfunctioning.

In addition, the importance of understanding “worn parts” is recognizing that your transmission contains numerous components, such as:

  • Clutches
  • Springs
  • Metal drums
  • Valves
  • Pistons
  • Bearings
  • The planetary gear set 

To know more, you can also read our posts on why gas is leaking from the bottom of your car, why SUVs are better than cars, and why 4Runners are so expensive.


Transmission is an essential component of every vehicle. However, transmission failure could be highly inconvenient, so take preventive measures to avoid transmission problems.

That said, regular transmission upkeep is the most effective method for ensuring your car stays healthy and efficient.

Leave a Comment