Transmission trouble can't be ignored, and repairs can't be put off. Not only does a broken down transmission often leave your car immobile, trying to ignore an issue when it first starts can lead to an even more expensive repair later. The following are signs that your transmission needs to be serviced sooner rather than later.
Sign #1: Fluid leaks
Puddles under your car should always raise alarms, particularly if they appear beneath the engine compartment. Transmission fluid is usually a dull to bright red color. If you notice a fluid spot, touch it with a white paper towel as this is a better way to determine the color since many fluids just look dark on pavement. If it's red, you have a leak and you need to schedule a prompt service.
Sign #2: Hesitation
A car with an automatic transmission may hesitate when changing gears. You will notice this when you are picking up speed as a moment when the car seems to plateau or even slow down slightly before surging up again in speed. In a standard transmission, hesitation is usually felt more easily, as the car may be difficult to switch gears, or there may even be a slight grinding as you try to move into a new gear.
Sign #3: Burning odors
A burning or scorched odor when you are driving is never a good thing to smell. The odor may be consistent once the engine warms up if it is caused by leaking transmission fluid burning off on the hot engine. It may also increase in strength as you drive, particularly when the car shifts, if the burning is coming from inside the transmission. When the car is cool, try removing the cap to the transmission fluid reservoir, and give it a sniff to see if this is the source of the odor.
Sign #4: Grinding sounds
The grinding sounds in a manual transmission are obvious since you will feel them in the gear shift as well as hear them. In an automatic, you will need to listen to the other engine sounds to determine whether the grinding is occurring at the same time your car is shifting. Another way to determine this is to watch your RPM gauge – the RPMs tend to drop just as your car shifts, so if this lines up with a grinding noise, then the noise is likely from your transmission.
If you experience any of the signs above, it's time to get your car into a transmission repair shop immediately.