It’s one of the most common repair issues we deal with every day at Ralph’s Transmission. Someone brings their car into our shop because their transmission is slipping between certain gears. It happens in all types of transmissions, including automatic, manual and modern CVT (continuously variable) transmissions. It often occurs when the car is running cold, but can still impact things when it is at regular temperatures.

The typical symptoms of a slipping transmission include:

• High RPM (more than 3,500)

• Inability to go into reverse gear

• Slow/delayed acceleration

• Check engine light is on

• Strange smells

• Grinding gears and other odd noises during shifting

• Difficulty shifting gears (manual transmission)

If you notice these symptoms in your vehicle, and especially if they are recurring, it’s worth getting your car looked at by a transmission specialist like Ralph’s Transmission who can determine the problem and recommend proper repairs. There can be any number of causes that lead to slipping transmissions. Some are very simple to explain and fix. Other problems might be internal with components that are failing/worn out. Depending on the severity of the issue and when it is recognized and dealt with, repairs can range from replacing one faulty part to major internal transmission damage that will require significant repairs, replacement or a full custom rebuild.

The most common causes for a slipping transmission include:

Low Fluid Levels — This is the most typical cause, and it is also the easiest to resolve. If you notice slipping gears, you can check your own transmission fluid level and top it off as needed. However, be absolutely sure you are putting in the correct type of transmission fluid for your particular transmission design. Also, make sure there are no leaks happening or you will just continue to lose the fluid your transmission needs to run properly.

Burnt/Dirty/Corroded Fluid — Your transmission fluid will go bad over time. It’s needs to be maintained just like engine oil, and therefore it needs to be replaced periodically (usually every 30,000-60,000 miles). This is why regular transmission services are recommended for all vehicles. If burnt, dirty or corroded fluid is causing your transmission to slip, you may just need a transmission service to replace the fluid and filter, or it could be a sign of something bigger that needs to be inspected and repaired by a professional.

Worn Transmission Bands — Transmission bands link the gears in an automatic transmission together. They can sometimes break or simply wear out with time, which will then cause the transmission to slip as the gears are shifted.

Solenoid Failure — The solenoid is a very important valve that controls the flow of transmission fluid throughout the transmission. If it isn’t working properly, it will lead to internal transmission damage.

Damaged Gears — Like most vehicle components, the gears themselves can wear out over time or get damaged in some other way. Eventually, they may start to slip.

Clutch Problems — The clutch assembly is important to any type of transmission. If something isn’t working right or damaged, it could be another cause of a slipping transmission.

Torque Converter Problems — In automatic transmissions, a torque converter controls the shifting and power disbursement from the engine to the transmission. It could be another source for transmission issues.

As you can see, a slipping transmission can be tricky to diagnose. It is often just a fluid issue, but fluid problems can easily lead to more damage inside the transmission. If you live in the Central Valley and your transmission is slipping or acting strange in any way, your best bet is to bring your vehicle into the experts at Ralph’s Transmission in Downtown Modesto. Our team of diagnosticians and transmission technicians can get to the source of the problem and get it repaired properly for you. All work we do is backed by warranties.

For all your Central Valley transmission service and repair needs, call Ralph’s Transmission at 209.526.1909. Or, you can schedule your appointment online.