Automatic vehicles feature a torque converter as part of the transmission. It’s one of the key components that allows the car or truck to shift automatically between gears. It converts power from the engine into hydraulic pressure that ultimately controls the shifting. A failing torque converter is one of the most common transmission problems we see, and when it fails it usually leads to other internal transmission damage.
The torque converter is a sensitive piece of equipment that is full of automatic transmission fluid that creates the hydraulic pressure it needs to function properly. There are several signs that you might have a torque converter issue:
1. Loss of Acceleration
If your vehicle feels more sluggish than normal or it is physically shuddering when you step on the gas pedal—as if it’s struggling to accelerate as it typically would—this is a sign that there could be a transmission problem and the torque converter is a likely culprit.
2. Slipping Between Gears
Automatic vehicles should shift smoothly between gears. You can usually feel it to some extent, especially when you accelerate or decelerate quickly. However, you may also feel the vehicle slipping as it shifts between gears or notice that it is having trouble staying in a certain gear. If the shifting feels rough or strange, there’s a good chance that you have a torque converter issue.
3. Vehicle Won’t Shift at All
A surefire sign of a failing torque converter is when the vehicle won’t shift into a specific gear at all. If you can’t get it to go into reverse or forward drive won’t engage, then it’s probably something wrong with your torque converter.
4. Transmission is Overheating
Like your engine, your transmission has a sensitive temperature gauge that will warn you if the transmission is overheating. An overheated transmission is a major concern, so you’ll want to get your vehicle looked at by a transmission specialist as soon as possible. It may be a failing torque converter or some other internal damage that needs to be addressed.
5. Transmission Fluid Leak
Transmission fluid is vital to the health and performance of the torque converter (and the transmission system as a whole). Torque converter seals can be damaged easily or get worn out with time, so they are a common source of transmission fluid leaks. Any time you see transmission fluid leaking, you don’t want to take chances. It’s an early warning sign that something is wrong and it can lead to major internal damage if left ignored.
6. Bad Transmission Fluid
If you check your transmission fluid and notice that it is dark, burnt, milky or filled with debris like metal shavings, then you’ll want to get your transmission serviced right away. That may be all you need to get fresh fluid running through the system again. It could also be the sign of internal transmission or torque converter problems, so a proper inspection from an expert transmission technician is also a good idea.
These are a few common signs of torque converter failure and other potential transmission concerns. If you are in the Central Valley area and think you might have a transmission problem, turn to Ralph’s Transmission in Modesto for the best in transmission repair and maintenance services. Call us today at 209.526.1909 or schedule your free inspection appointment online.