If your car is not shifting properly, you could end up with very expensive transmission repairs. So, how do you know if your car isn’t shifting the way it should? Watch for these signs to avoid serious transmission trouble.

  1. Warning light comes on: A warning light alone doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a shifting problem, but if you notice it along with any of the symptoms that follow, you should get it checked out.

  2. Car is shifting hard: The car feels as if it’s reluctant to shift gears the way it usually does, or isn’t shifting smoothly. You might notice a clunking or thudding sound when the car shifts gears, or has difficulty reaching the proper speed.

  3. Gear changes for no reason: If you’re driving a manual transmission in a certain gear, and the car suddenly changes gear with no action on your part, or if it suddenly slides into neutral in an automatic, you have a shifting problem. You might notice a whining sound or a change in the usual sound from your engine when this happens.

  4. Fluid leak: If you’re having trouble shifting, it could be something as simple as a transmission fluid leak. Usually, transmission fluid shouldn’t leak, and if you see a puddle of fluid under your car, that can be a sign of a clogged filter or a loose plug. Transmission fluid is clear red, and has a slightly sweet smell.

  5. Delayed engagement: Your car waits for a bit before going into drive and moving forward. You’ve pushed the clutch pedal down, brought it up to the point where the gears should engage and move your car forward, but there’s a pause before the vehicle moves. Even if you rev the engine, there’s still a delay.

Any indication that your car is not shifting properly should be dealt with immediately. You might have a simple issue that can be repaired inexpensively, but if you wait too long you could end up with serious transmission trouble and have to pay to repair or even replace your transmission. Be sure to contact a mechanic to check your transmission fluid and other parts of the transmission system as soon as you experience any shifting problems.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as 5 Signs Your Car Isn't Shifting Correctly and was authored by Valerie Johnston.


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