A man with soft, white gloves adjusts components in a vehicle.Any time you hear a strange noise coming from your vehicle, you should take notice. Odd sounds are one of your car’s ways of letting you know something might be wrong. It may be a minor problem like a loose belt or bolt that needs tightening, or it could be the sign of something more significant. Either way, it’s a good idea to get any unusual noises checked out before they develop into something much worse.

The transmission is one common culprit for bad noises. Whether you drive a manual transmission or automatic transmission vehicle, there are some sounds you won’t want to hear. Here are some transmission noises that you should look out for when driving:


This is the most common sound associated with transmission issues. Sometimes, it is user error in a manual transmission vehicle. You may grind the gears while shifting. That’s not a big deal unless you do it consistently. Then, it may lead to problems in the future. If you hear grinding every time you shift, while the vehicle is in gear or in between certain gears in an automatic transmission vehicle, it is a problem worth getting checked out soon. You may have something wrong with the gear system, torque converter and/or low transmission fluid.


A distinct whining sound is another common noise you might hear coming from your transmission. It may become more noticeable when driving at higher speeds. When it gets louder or higher-pitched as you accelerate, it is a tell-tale sign it’s probably coming from the transmission and not from something else like the wheels or brakes. It may also be more prominent when you go into reverse gear. This whining sound can be caused by any number of transmission issues. Low transmission fluid or a clogged fluid line/filter are the most likely culprits, but there could be other internal damage causing the noise.


You may feel or hear an awkward clunking noise when you are accelerating or decelerating. Again, it may be low transmission fluid or it could also be damaged gears. The gears might be slipping between shifts and this leads to those noticeable clunks.


This one may be harder to notice, but it can happen when your transmission fluid is too low and air bubbles are getting trapped in your transmission fluid lines. It’s usually a sign that you need a transmission service because the fluid is either getting low or the fluid quality is compromised.

In many cases, these noises just mean you are due for a standard transmission service. This entails replacing the transmission fluid along with the pan gasket and transmission filter. This is a routine maintenance service that is needed periodically on all transmissions. That’s why it’s good to catch any strange noises or other transmission problems early on. You might just need minor maintenance. If you ignore the problem, it could turn into something much more significant (and costly) to repair!

If you think you might have a transmission problem, call the Central Valley transmission specialists at Ralph’s Transmission in Modesto at 209.526.1909 or schedule your service appointment online.

Contact Us