Grinding gears is one of the most common signs of a transmission problem. It means that the clutch isn’t completely disengaging from the engine while the gears are still rotation. However, there are numerous reasons why it could be happening. In some cases with a manual transmission, it’s actually user error. In most cases, it signifies that there may be internal damage to one or more components that you will want to get replaced. If the problem isn’t dealt with, it will likely only lead to more transmission issues.

Here are 6 of the most common reasons why transmission gears will grind, according to the Central Valley transmission repair specialists at Modesto’s own Ralph’s Transmission:

1. Clutch Problems

The most likely culprit is the clutch system. Though automatic and CVT transmissions have their own clutch system that works automatically (see reason #2 below), manual transmissions rely on the driver to press the clutch pedal when shifting. If there are any issues in the clutch assembly or damage to any clutch components, it won’t work right and it’s very common for the gears to grind when shifting.

2. Torque Converter Problems

An automatic transmission uses a torque converter and planetary gear system to automatically do the shifting for you as you accelerate or decelerate the vehicle. If you hear grinding while the car is shifting between forward gears, that is definitely a sign of transmission issues and there’s a good chance it’s the torque converter itself. You may physically hear and feel grinding when shifting into reverse, as well, so that’s another symptom to look for.

3. Low Transmission Fluid

Another cause for grinding gears is when the transmission system isn’t getting proper lubrication from the transmission fluid. You may be low on transmission fluid or the fluid itself could be old and corroded. It’s important to get your transmission fluid changed as needed in order to prevent significant internal transmission damage.

4. Gear System Damage

Between the gears themselves and the various sensitive components that control shifting between them, there is always a chance that something can become damaged. This may lead to grinding gear noises or other shifting issues. Sometimes, you may only feel it when shifting between two specific gears. In this situation, a detailed internal inspection of the transmission may be required to get to the source of the problem.

5. Other Internal Transmission Damage

An internal inspection may reveal other damaged components that are leading to your transmission concerns. A transmission specialist will be able to let you know exactly what’s wrong and what it will take to repair the transmission. Sometimes, a full custom rebuild of the transmission is recommended because it’s a more complete fix compared to just replacing one or two damaged parts.

6. Bad Driving Habits

Last but not least, grinding gears is sometimes the driver’s fault. Anyone who has driven a manual transmission vehicle will probably grind the gears when shifting every once in awhile. That’s okay. We all do it sometimes. However, if you do it all the time and really push your vehicle hard with aggressive shifting, carrying heavy loads or crazy driving, bad things will eventually happen. This is a recipe for causing clutch and transmission damage.

These are some of the most common reasons why you might be hearing those grinding gear noises and feeling resistance while shifting between gears. Whether you have a traditional automatic, CVT or manual transmission, you always want to pay attention if the vehicle isn’t shifting smoothly or you hear any strange sounds. If you are having transmission problems in the Central Valley, turn to the transmission specialists at Ralph’s Transmission. We’re here to help!

Call Ralph’s Transmission today at 209.526.1909 or schedule your free transmission inspection online.

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